December 1, 2021

Williams re-elected in Cortlandville

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Republican Tom Williams, right, hugs his wife, Jean Williams, after the announcement Tuesday that he won re-election as Cortlandville supervisor, defeating Democrat Doug Withey.

Tom Williams wrapped his arms around his wife as the applause echoed through the room of the Republican headquarters in Cortland, moments after finding out he won re-election for Cortlandville town supervisor.

Williams defeated Democrat Douglas Withey, a town board member, 987-693, according to unofficial results. The Cortland County Board of Elections has yet to count 230 absentee ballots.

“What are we going to see moving forward? It’s going to be a continuation of what we started, we’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” Williams said. “COVID got in the way of things, but we’re going to be full speed ahead.”

Withey would not concede the race. However, Withey’s 693 votes puts him 294 votes behind Williams. Only 230 absentee ballots were sent out, and not all of them have been returned — 114 as of Monday.

Williams has been supervisor since 2020 when he defeated town board member Withey for the seat. Withey has been a member of the Cortlandville Town Board since 2018.

Withey’s experience with municipal government dates back nearly 35 years. He retired in 2006 as the city of Cortland’s water superintendent and has served on the Homer Board of Education. He has also served on the board of the American Red Cross’s Southern Tier Chapter and Homer First United Church. He owns W2 Operator Training Group, Port Watson Mini-Conference Center and Starr Road Apartments.

A retired state trooper, Williams served eight years as a Cortland County legislator representing Homer from 1990 to 1994 and again from 2005 to 2010. He also spent eight years as a Cortlandville code enforcement officer from 2008 to 2016, and has worked as a home builder and business owner.

Cortlandville resident Kim Brown said he tries to vote for every election, not just for the presidential elections.

“I try to actually go out to vote for each one, and this year there’s the amendment for clean water and health and stuff, and I’ve looked into that a little before,” Brown said. “That’s obviously something I feel like everyone should have access to.”

Brown’s wife, Exley Bookamer, said she is friends with one of the candidates on the ballot but would have voted, anyway.

“It’s really important to vote in local politics because I think it can make a big difference, especially in the grand scheme of things,” Bookamer said.

A number of issues punctuated the campaign. Debate over the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex played front and center. Withey said a contract the town signed with Prep Baseball Report did not account for inflation over time, and lacked a cost-benefit analysis.

Town development was also an issue. The town last updated a comprehensive plan 43 years ago, since when much of the retail development on routes 281 and 13 came, and went. Solar development and a moratorium on it was also a topic of debate.

As supervisor, Williams hoped to see economic development. He said the town is waiting to move forward with its comprehensive plan, last updated in 1978, which looks at the town’s goals and how to make them happen.

Williams’ goal is to keep Cortlandville growing through economic development, and Withey says he wants to bring transparency and accountability to the town.