By Darryl Patteson
On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the eight candidates running for four open spots on the Town of DeWitt Board gathered in the same place for the first time this election season. A crowd of 20 citizens listened to all eight veterans of local politics outline their concerns and plans for the future of the town. Eagle Newspapers conducted the forum.
The campaign to this point has been drawn on party lines. Incumbent Republicans Jim DiStefano, Ken Andrews, Joan Schroder and Bob Faulkner sat in a row separated from the row of Democrats Ed Michalenko, Vicki Baker, Lorene McCoy Dadey and Kerry Mannion. The candidates addressed the big voting issues of taxes, the Jamesville coal plant and services.
Jim DiStefano (R-Incumbent)
Running For: Supervisor
Experience: Eight Years as Town Supervisor
The Issues: DiStefano's big issue is taxes. "You have to see to it that town residents get the most bang for their buck," DiStefano said. He added that the current Board is experienced with the inner-workings of the Town of DeWitt and its budget. What DiStefano does not see as an issue is the proposed coal plant in Jamesville, calling the project "dead." "The entire board is behind the people in that area and in any neighborhood," DiStefano said. The Board plans to have the Jamesville quarry re-zoned for high-tech projects, according to DiStefano.
Why Vote for Jim DiStefano? "Things are moving in the right direction," he said. "We have a very good, smooth-running Board and a very good, smooth-running town."
Ed Michalenko (D-Current Board Member)
Running For: Supervisor
Experience: 10 Years on Town Board
The Issues: Michalenko calls the current Town Board "complacent," saying that the group lacks foresight to see how projects will change life for all residents. "There's a failure to react to the issues," Michalenko said. "It's like, 'we're happy with what we're doing and how we're doing it.'" His goal is to develop "Smart Planning and Smart Growth" in the Town of DeWitt by thinking about what is built and its impact on the environment. He also worries that the coal plant is not a thing of the past, as the application has never been formally withdrawn from Development and Operations or the Planning Board. Also, any re-zoning, he says, is difficult because it may be challenged legally, especially with big industry having a hand in the Jamesville project.