Oct 29, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Extra chairs had to be brought out at the Cazenovia Public Library community room last Wednesday, as more than 50 people attended the “Meet the Candidates” event hosted by the League of Women Voters. Candidates for town and county offices each explained their experience and positions, while a panel of town officials discussed the two town ballot proposals facing Cazenovia voters on Nov. 5.
The event was a non-partisan gathering hosted by the LWV, an organization that works to encourage informed and active participation in government while never endorsing any candidates, said LWV President Wendy Taylor.
Town candidates Bill Zupan, for supervisor, Pat Race and Kristi Andersen for town board, and Connie Sunderman for town clerk — all unopposed on the ballot — gave three minute statements to the attendees, as did Madison County Sherrif Allen Riley, also unopposed.
The one contested race for Cazenovia voters this year, that for county clerk, heard from Republican Denise Roe and Democrat Ann Jones as to who they were, why they were running and why they believe they should be elected.
Both candidates are highly educated and experienced. Both have master’s degrees, while Roe has been deputy county clerk for eight years and Jones has worked at the county board of elections for 10 years.
Roe, who lives in Hamilton, spoke first. She said she understands the issues facing the county clerk first-hand and knows how a raise in taxes affects fixed-income earners. She said it is “imperative” that the county clerk have fiscal management and records management experience, among other talents. “The county has invested in my on-the-job training,” she said.
Jones, who is from Fenner, said she has experience updating and improving government tasks through new technology — as was done at the board of elections — as well as keeping the public informed of the changes and what they mean. She said part of the county clerk’s job is to “demystify” all the changes going on at the county level for county residents. She said her hope for the future if elected would be to reach out to the public to keep them informed, and to offer better public service, such as offering county clerk hours more than just 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays — which is when most people work and therefore cannot come to the office to get things done without taking time off of work.
Current Cazenovia Supervisor Ralph Monforte, Clerk Linda Mather and Councilor Liz Moran then held a panel discussion on the two ballot proposals for town residents seeking approval to extend the supervisor position to a four-year term from its current two-year term, and to change the town clerk from an elected to an appointed position.
On the supervisor proposal, Monforte said a four-year term allows the supervisor better opportunity to bring more services to the town from his or her position on the county board of supervisors.
“It is somewhat political, and the head of the board typically prefers to appoint someone [to committees] who will be there for four years rather than two years,” Monforte said. “I think I could have helped the town more, and quicker, if the head of the board knew I’d be there for four years, rather than having to wait for my reelection.”
Moran, who is a former town supervisor, said there is a “learning curve” to the job of supervisor and it is hard to feel one has mastered the job after only two years. Responding to a question from the audience, Moran said she feels it will also be easier for political parties to recruit candidates to run for the position if it is a four-year term because it is “less onerous” than having to run for reelection every two years.
On the town clerk proposal, Mather, who is retiring this year after holding the position for the past 25 years, said making the job an appointed position will better ensure the clerk is someone who is qualified for the job — rather than political parties leaders selecting a political candidate — and it also makes it easier for the town board to take action if the clerk needs to be penalized or terminated for some reason.
“If the clerk goes to an appointed position then the town board can select the best candidate for the position. I like that,” Mather said.
Mather also said the timing is right to make this change in the job now, when there is no incumbent in the position (because she is retiring) rather than to make the change in the middle of someone’s term of office.
“There is no ulterior motive here. The timing is right, she said.
Cazenovia town election candidate profiles, as well as the wording of the two town ballot proposals were published in the Oct. 23 issue of the Cazenovia Republican and can be found online at cazenoviarepublican.com. They can also be found on the Madison County Board of Election website and at vote411.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.