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LETTERS: Elected positions provide a choice

— A recent syracuse.com article and WSYR Channel 9 news article pointed out the fact that the Superintendent of Highway’s only qualifications are that he or she is 18 years of age and a resident.

This is the same qualification for all elected town officials, becoming a member of the armed services and for voting.

An interviewee on the same Channel 9 news story also implied that an appointed, rather than elected highway superintendent would be more qualified.

The truth of the matter is that most highway superintendents are elected for two or four year terms. They are individuals who have worked for a municipal highway department, have a background in civil engineering or a background in construction. Most have hands-on knowledge and experience plowing snow, repairing roads, drainage requirements and all various aspects needed to keep our roads safe and properly maintained.

The New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, Inc. is the state’s largest transportation association representing highway superintendents in 932 towns, most of who are elected officials responsible for maintaining local highways. This massive system consists of 670,000 centerline miles and more than 4,000 highway bridges. As an association, we hope the public becomes as informed as possible regarding this matter. New York State has in place many checks and balances so that one body or group of people does not control every aspect of what makes a town successful.

Making this position an appointed position takes away the capacity of residents, voters and taxpayers to make an informed decision regarding who is best qualified to represent them. Educated voters (not the town board) should have the decision to determine which candidate is best qualified for the position. Elected positions provide a choice.

Mark Kolakowski is president of the Onondaga County Highway Superintendent’s Association.

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