Oct 20, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Ed Michalenko is seeking re-election after three and a half years as DeWitt town supervisor. Running against him is Art Diamond, a DeWitt native who has served on various DeWitt boards. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. To view polling places for the town of DeWitt, go to www.ongov.net/elections/pollingPlacesTowns.html.
Ed Michalenko served 11 years on the DeWitt Town Board before becoming town supervisor. He was raised in East Syracuse and graduated from ESM in 1975. Michalenko is a former high school biology and chemistry teacher, and earned his masters and doctoral degrees from ESF at Syracuse University.
His professional career has focused on identifying the fate and effects of chemicals released to the environment. He is an accomplished researcher and author, and heads the Onondaga Environmental Institute, a not-for-profit dedicated to education, research, planning and restoration of the environment in Central New York. He has held adjunct faculty positions at SUNY ESF and Syracuse University. He and his wife of 30 years have four adult children and three grandchildren. Michalenko is a lector at Holy Cross Parish in DeWitt, where he also coaches the boys varsity CYO basketball team.
Art Diamond has a bachelor of science degree in business management from Ithaca College. He owns and operates two different service businesses in DeWitt, where he has three kids in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District.
“I am a DeWitt native and have lived here most of my life,” Diamond said. “I have raised my family here, coached little league teams and met many of my fellow residents.”
Diamond is currently in his sixth year as a volunteer serving on DeWitt’s planning board. He served one year on DeWitt’s zoning board and two years on DeWitt’s Parks and Recreation commission. He has been an active DeWitt Republican committee member for more than 10 years.
DeWitt Democratic, Working Families and Veterans parties; Civil Service Employee’s Association; Sheet Metals Worker International Association; and DeWitt Police Benevolent Association
Republican, Conservative and Independence parties
Why are you running for DeWitt Town Supervisor?
Michalenko: I originally ran because Jim Guyette asked me to run for his empty Board seat when he made supervisor. I thought it would be great to support and learn from Jim. Unfortunately, he passed away; I still [think] about how it might have been with him at the helm. Four years ago I ran for Supervisor to stop the coal plant proposal, which we did; now we are working with the property owner and looking for opportunities to redevelop the site using smart growth principles. I am currently running because I have a series of initiatives underway like the former Alpha-Portland cement site that I would like to complete.
Diamond: Like most voters, I have a general dissatisfaction with different levels of government, in particular at the state and federal levels. I believe there are some grassroots things that we can do at the town level to set an example to the higher levels of government. I understand networking and connecting people to help solve problems in business and believe that can be transitioned into better problem solving for DeWitt residents. After all, the business of the town of Dewitt is serving its residents. Maximizing services and continuing to provide what residents expect from the town will be increasingly challenging as we move forward in tough economic times. I believe my experiences in my service business give me great skills to bring to the table.
What is your public service mission?
Michalenko: I am committed to making DeWitt a community where people want to live, worship, work, shop and play.
Diamond: I come from a mindset of running service businesses. To be successful, this requires that I meet or exceed my customer’s expectations. I want to take this approach to town government and look for ways to meet or exceed the town’s residents’ and taxpayers’ expectations of town government.
What do you believe to be your constituency’s most pressing issue or challenge?
Michalenko: The issues are many and diverse, but they all come down to building community and enhancing our quality of life. Property taxes are always at the top of the list. In four years, I lowered taxes by 3%, had no increase twice, and withstood the loss of sales tax revenue by establishing a capital reserve account. In the current economic climate, maintaining my long-term budget strategy and continuing to hold the line on property taxes is critical. Transportation, traffic, and overdevelopment are certain causes of negative impacts we need to address. I’ve begun developing a town wide network of bike lanes, sidewalks, trails, green space, parks, and recreational facilities. Studies show these things have tremendous economic, social, and environmental benefits. I’ve started a storm water management system to mitigate runoff in flood prone neighborhoods, improve water quality, and enhance the environment. We’ve struggled with this and so much more needs to be done. Our future economic stability is so important, and is largely dependent on sound planning and energy policy. I would like to expand our newly established Sustainability Policy to guide town practices into the future. I’ve halted the prospects of hydrofracking, but need to install further safeguards. I’ve retrofit HVAC systems and lighting fixtures, added insulation, and acquired solar panels at town hall. Yet we need to decentralize our grid, explore additional alternate energy systems for industry, business and home use in order to lower our carbon footprint, reduce fossil fuel consumption and dependency, and reduce costs. Consequently, I’ve begun evaluating the feasibility of creating a town electric utility like that of Solvay. I’d like to see it happen in the next 5 years. I believe this along with promoting and incorporating smart growth in business and economic development can help make DeWitt a community of choice in the future.
Diamond: People are always concerned with property taxes, we need to look at the diminishing tax base, i.e. Carrier and ShoppingTown, and try to turn that around with new economic development in the town. We have to manage town finances and really look to make some strides with consolidation/shared services with our neighboring towns, villages and municipalities that will keep our high level of service, but reduce our expenses.
What is your leadership philosophy?
Michalenko:I try to lead by example. I work hard, long hours, and am passionate in my beliefs. I demand from myself before asking from others. I always try to deal with people in an honest, fair and consistent manner. And finally, I yield respect in order to earn it.
Diamond: I am a strong believer in problem solving in a team environment. The leader of an organization is only as good as the people around him/her. I am a good listener and I believe in soliciting ideas from town residents, employee’s, department heads and board members etc. and finding the common ground. Then as a team we can implement these ideas collectively and take credit for the solution. Too many politicians take credit for the work of others.