November 30, 2021

Area villages to elect officials Tuesday

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Homer Village Clerk Kristin Rocco-Petrella, right, and assistant Kalee Updyke work at a folding table inside the cramped Village Hall. Homer Mayork Genevieve Suits uses the space where Updyke is sitting for her “office.” The village’s struggle to find better accommodations for its offices is a key issue in the village elections. Voters in Homer and other area villages will be going to the polls next Tuesday to fill seats on their boards and elect mayors, in some cases.

The debate on where to put the Homer village office was the main topic of the last village election. It lingered long enough to become a talking point for the upcoming election Tuesday.

Village residents will cast their votes to fill the seats of two trustee positions and mayor.

For mayor, voters will choose between Republican nominee and incumbent Mayor Genevieve Suits — seeking her fourth term — and Democratic nominee Darren “Hal” McCabe.

Suits will also run under the Our Village Party line.

Incumbent trustees Gene Smith and Kevin Slack also seek re-election. However, Slack lost the Republican nomination and is running under the Open Government party line. Along with Smith, the other Republican nominee for trustee is Megan Williams.

Timothy Daley is the sole Democratic nominee to run for a trustee seat.

For some nominees, the village office is one of their main concerns.

The village has been debating where to put its office for more than a year as village officials say the 900-square-foot office building at 53 S. Main St. is too small. At the moment the village is considering whether to move into Town Hall, or the 3,024-square-foot building at 84 Cortland St., the Grange Building.
“We need to have the village office back into Town Hall,” McCabe said, stating that as one of his main agendas. “It is where the village belongs. I’ve toured it, it’s a great facility. Everything the village needs is there.”

He is not alone as Slack said earlier this month one reason he wants to continue to be a trustee is he believes the village offices should go back to Town Hall.

Smith did not specify where he thinks the village office should go, but said “We have to get more room for the people in the office to do their job efficiently.” However, he was in favor of moving the offices into the former Lackawanna Railroad freight house at 44 James St. — a motion that was voted down in January.

Smith said mainly the board needs to not get hung up on one issue.

“We need people who do not have an agenda,” Smith said.

Others say it is time to move on from the constant debate over the village offices and focus elsewhere.

“We have business to take care of,” Suits said. “I’m not going to be focusing on small, petty things.”

She said she in concerned about the village infrastructure and investing in the economic development of the village is important. Also, small businesses in the village are thriving, so she said it is important to continue to give them opportunities to improve.

Williams echoed Suits’ thoughts, saying the Village Board needs to get past where to put the village offices and “move forward in appropriate steps.” She also wants to work on having the board work better together.

“(The village) needs a board that is willing to work together, even when they disagree,” Williams said. “The board needs to work together to find solutions to the problems.”
Williams, who owns Prima Studio, a hair salon 19 N. Main St., said she sees new businesses coming into the village and old ones thriving, which she would like to see continue. A couple of ways of accomplishing that would be to fix up old buildings and get people to visit and move into the village.

McCabe said attracting people to Homer is another of his main goals. He wants to work toward encouraging people to move to the village, so vacant houses do not turn into rental spaces.

His third goal is to increase transparency between the community and the village government. One example he gave was creating an “alert system” through phone or text messaging, where if there is a problem, such as a water main break, residents can get alerts informing them of it.

If elected, McCabe said one of the first things he would do is have the village audited by the state Comptroller’s Office to fully understand how all of the village funds were created and what they can be used for. He said he thinks there has been questionable usage of taxpayer money in the past few years.

Daley could not be reached for comment.

Groton races contested

A Democrat who has never held elected office will face a two-term incumbent for mayor of Groton on Tuesday.

Two positions for village trustee are also contested.

Democrats nominated Faith Tyler for mayor and David Dematteo and Jeff Toolan for the two trustee positions at a party caucus in January. All three were nominated without challenge.

In January, Tyler said she had planned on running only for a trustee position but after thinking more about running decided to run for mayor. She will face incumbent Republican Mayor Christopher Neville.

This is the first time Tyler has run for mayor, but not the first time she’s run for a village position. Four years ago Tyler ran for trustee.

One of the issues Tyler said she’ll look into if elected is better food access.

“We have no grocery store in Groton,” Tyler said, adding residents need a place to go to get groceries without having to drive 10 miles.

Tyler also hopes to hold landlords more accountable for repairs to properties. “People don’t feel safe,” Tyler said. “We need to hold landlords accountable for their properties.”

Neville said holding landlords accountable is one of the reasons the village passed its nuisance properties law two years ago. The law allows the village to assess points to a property for problems found there. Once the property racks up enough points, it can be closed until the issues are addressed.

Neville also plans to address the issue of infrastructure, by having streets and sidewalks rebuilt.

Dematteo, a landlord who owns properties in Groton, agreed with Tyler. Dematteo said he tries to keep his properties maintained, but still sees absentee landlords not being held accountable for disrepair. “There has to be a willingness to talk about and make change.”

Dematteo also wants to improve sidewalk. “I would like to see positive changes.”

Toolan, who owns the historic Hotel Groton, could not be reached.

Along with Neville, who seeks his third term as mayor, incumbent trustees Betty Conger, on the board since 2001, and Michael Holl, on the board since 2013, were nominated for re-election at the Republican caucus. Conger and Holl could not be reached for comment.

Lee Shurtleff, chairman of the Republican Committee for Groton, said in January the Republican Committee was very happy about the three candidates. “It is a good, progressive board,” he said.

All registered voters living in the village can cast their ballots Tuesday to fill the two-year posts. The winners will be sworn in during the first Village Board meeting in April.

One race contested in Dryden, none in McGraw, Marathon

Dryden village election: Two trustee positions are contested in the village of Dryden on Tuesday, while the mayor’s seat is not.
Republican Mayor Reba Taylor seeks her eighth term.

Newcomers Republican Chris Gibbons and Democrat Thomas Sinclair and Democratic incumbent Michael Murphy will vie for two trustee positions.

McGraw village election: Mayor Allan Stauber is seeking his third term as mayor uncontested on Tuesday.

Village residents also will vote to fill two trustee seats.

Stauber’s name will be under the Our Village Party line.

Only two names are on the ballot for trustee, incumbent James Field and newcomer Margaret Whittington. Incumbent Matt O’Rourke did not file his application soon enough, but is campaigning for write-in votes.

Field’s name will be under the Workers line; Whittington will be under the Voters Have Pull line.

Marathon village election:

The position of mayor and two trustees will be uncontested.

Republican William McGovern is once again running for his second term as mayor.

Republicans Patricia McConnell, who is running for her fifth term, and Donna Collins, running for her first term, seek the trustee positions.