Is councilor’s candidacy a conflict of interest?

— Running for election this fall with Lysander town supervisor, Barry Bullis, are councilor candidates Norm Ashbarry and Bob Ellis.

There’s been a great deal of negative press lately about both Mr. Bullis and Mr. Ashbarry, so I’ll leave it to the media to follow each of these stories to their logical conclusions.

Instead, my question concerns only councilor candidate, Bob Ellis. Unlike Bullis and Ashbarry, Bob doesn’t have any skeletons in his closet. For that reason alone, he seems to be a better candidate for public office than either Bullis or Ashbarry. But, is that enough?

Bob Ellis has faithfully served the Onondaga County Department of Parks and Recreation for nearly 35 years. As such, he has earned his annual salary of over $80,000 per year and the state pension that’s sure to follow. No one disputes that Mr. Ellis is entitled to his pay. However, Lysander voters need a councilor who will act in the best interests of the town, not the county.

There are countless issues that require Bob to favor the people of the town at the expense of the county. These issues include how to split sales tax revenues between the two and how to fund solutions to infrastructure problems.

A conflict of interest exists when a public servant must choose between his private interests and his public obligations. How will Town Councilor Bob Ellis negotiate with the county in good faith, when he’s been elected to represent the town while still receiving a paycheck from the other?

Katharine J. Neer is a Lysander resident.

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