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Van Buren sends voters to the polls, Lysander postpones referendum vote

Lysander alone in seeking change to town clerk position

— Greater Baldwinsville residents turned out in high numbers to recent town board meetings.

Both the towns of Van Buren and Lysander held public hearings Aug. 7 and Aug. 13, respectively, to listen to comments regarding a proposal to change elective positions to appointive.

Supervisor Claude Sykes opened Van Buren’s public hearing on the matter by stating, “The board is aware that this is a somewhat controversial topic and in some people’s viewpoint does not merit consideration.” However, Sykes continued, having an elected highway superintendent is an outdated statute dating back to 1934 and, “with a three-fourths of a century old statute, perhaps the question should be why should the position remain elected?”

During the public hearing, opponents of the referendum said leaving it as an elected position allows residents to determine satisfaction of service.

“If we don’t like how the highway superintendent is doing his job, we can vote him out,” said Diane Branish.

“You’re taking away a kind of right – just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t’ mean we should have to,” added David Blaisdell, a resident and employee of the Van Buren Highway Department. “If there is no major concern, why change it?”

“We have to look to the future,” Sykes responded. Sykes then asked what right was being taken away if political parties choose the candidate for highway superintendent, and then there’s no opposition or choice anyway for decades at a time.

Virginia Lathrop, who spoke in favor of the motion, noted that Doug Foster, the current Van Buren Highway Superintendent was appointed after the former highway superintendent retired. She noted the board and employees seem to be happy, so “it shows you can do the right thing by appointing.” Voters later elected Foster to the position.

Van Buren officials approved the motion six to one to change the highway superintendent position from elective to appointive during the town’s Aug. 7 board meeting.

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