Bergen, McCormack and tucker vying for town councilor seats
By Jason Gabak
On Sept. 12, a primary vote will be held to determine the two Republican candidates who will seek to earn two seats on the Skaneateles Town Board in the November election.
Dessa Bergen, Mark Tucker and Kevin McCormack are all seeking their party’s nomination for the two seats that will be up for grabs in November.
Below is a series of questions and answer with each of the primary candidates.
My parents and I lived in Syracuse and after the war they decided to build a camp on Skaneateles Lake which has been a four-generation beacon for our family. In the seventies my husband, two children and I decided to move west making Skaneateles our year-round home. As 40-year residents in the Town of Skaneateles, we have had the good fortune to live in a historic stone farm home on Old Seneca Turnpike. Our two children graduated from Skaneateles High School; knowledge and life skills gained there has served them well.
I graduated from Syracuse University: bachelor of education with a minor in history and government from Maxwell School of Citizenship; masters in library science(MSLS). A duel certification as a NY State Social Studies Teacher and School Librarian Grades K-12 allowed me to teach children in New York State for 33 years.
As librarian, the skills acquired teaching students the intricacies of research and skills gained in resourceful acquisition of information will be invaluable when investigating background information on any issues that come before our board contributing to informed decision making. In addition, my background in history and government will be transferred and applied to actual, participation in government. My years working with teenagers taught me the art of defusing public pressures, transferable when working with the public on opposing issues.
I have worked on our three Joint Skaneateles Town and Village Comprehensive Plans, from 1995 to present with the goal of helping protect and preserve our historic community and neighborhoods. In addition, I spent 14 years on the Town of Skaneateles Planning Board fairly implementing our Comprehensive Plans and Town Zoning Code. These experiences have readied me for zoning related issues related to ongoing development pressures. I have participated in town government by attended meetings and gaining awareness of the many current issues.
On a civic level, I have worked with Skaneateles Lake Association/ Tri-County Lake Assoc. for at least 30 years to help in the effort to ensure that our purest of lakes is not diminished by the constant pollution threat. We are working for the elimination/prevention of invasive species such as Eurasian milfoil/zebra mussels/hydrilla/toxic algae.
We can all agree, Skaneateles’ rural farms, hamlets and centered village located by our pristine lake are the most special of all places to live and call home. I have the interest, enthusiasm, and time to devote to serving and representing the people of Skaneateles. I would be honored and proud to do so. I would like to formally be chosen to assist in that effort
I believe in a citizen’s duty to participate in the governance process. The citizens of Skaneateles are very pro-active and that attitude is borne out by their desire to preserve and protect our Town’s historic character. I would like to continue the work on our comprehensive plan and zoning and would like to be your Representative to the town board.
5.What are some issues you see the town facing right now and what are some of the things you think you could bring to the board to help address these issues?
Answer consolidates 5 and 6.The town is always under development pressure. My above-mentioned work on the comprehensive plan and zoning will be beneficial. Development should occur within the scope of the Plan and Zoning. I would also like to initiate legislation to have the Town’s Elected Board make the big decisions when major development would have an overwhelmingly negative impact on our community like the villages’ legislation regarding “Critical Impact.”
Jobs are also a concern. I would want to continue the job friendly environment existing in Skaneateles. Industry such as Welch Allyn and Tessy Plastic are very important to our economic wellbeing. Welcoming similar, clean industries would be a encouraged.
Property taxes are an ongoing concern. The Town has been reducing the tax rate and we should continue this path. The School, County and State unfunded mandated taxes need to be addressed.
As for the county/city group promoting “Consensus”, consolidation of Governments, I am in favor of consolidation of services where it would be economically beneficial but not the loss of “Home Rule.”
7.What else should voters know about you when making their decision for the primary?
I would like people to know that I am: honest, hardworking, dependable, fiscally conservative, committed to limited government. I believe in: adherence to our constitution, law enforcement, government sized just to get the job done. My vision and passion for Skaneateles is to: preserve and protect our historic, rural small-town character; protect the quality of our neighborhoods and ensure the pure waters of our lake. I would appreciate your vote to formally be chosen to assist in these efforts as a Skaneateles town board member. I am endorsed by the Skaneateles Republican Committee, seeking Veteran’s Party endorsement and am on the Independent ballot line. My willingness and interest in serving my local constituents is lasting. I believe in our community’s collective brain. I will hear your voices, listen when you speak, make informed/researched decisions, act in your best interest trying to do no harm.
I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and have lived in Skaneateles for 40 years. I am married with two adult children. My children attended the Skaneateles school system and graduated from Skaneateles High School. I have an 8-year old granddaughter who will be in State Street School this fall. I am a U.S. Army veteran.
I am a practicing attorney with 23 years’ experience defending individuals and businesses who have state and federal (IRS) tax and financial issues. I served as a federal prosecutor (Assistant U.S. Attorney) for 22 years prosecuting organized and white collar crime cases in Washington, D.C. and in Syracuse. I also have an accounting degree. I believe my experience in reviewing complex financial cases will help me to understand and analyze budgets and other financial documents associated with town board activities. My experience in defending environmental cases brought by the DEC and EPA will also be valuable to the board.
This is my first run for public office so I have not served on a board. However, I do have extensive experience in litigating contentious cases in federal and state court. This helps me to understand that all citizens of Skaneateles have a need to be heard and have their views taken seriously. I have had to work with clients, lawyers, prosecutors and judges to arrive at fair and just resolution of very difficult and highly contested cases. I am used to working with others who may have different views. I respect other people’s opinions even when I may disagree with them. An atmosphere of civility is very important to resolving issues. I will continue to take that approach with my fellow board members and the public.
I am seeking the nomination because I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family for 40 years. I can give the board my expertise in financial issues and a perspective of a lifetime as a public employee as well a practicing attorney. My government experience will help me to deal with issues involving town employees. My experience as an attorney will make it easier for me to quickly understand and grasp the local laws applicable to zoning and planning.
The town faces the classic issue of allowing development without damaging the existing beauty of the town. My expertise in reviewing and analyzing financial documents and issues will help me to understand complex development plans that come before the board and their impact on the environment. A continuing issue is keeping the lake safe and pure. Having lived here for so long with my family, I will always put the safety of the lake as the top priority. Of course, keeping taxes as low as possible is always an issue and I will always work to that end.
I believe we need to encourage our young graduates to stay in Skaneateles or return to raise their families. We invest a great deal of money in our primary and secondary educational system, but the graduates tend to go elsewhere. In order to encourage graduates to stay in Skaneateles to use their talents locally, we must have sufficient job and housing opportunities. We need to make this town attractive not only to the affluent, but to young people just starting their careers in order to ensure the future of the town. Development must be consistent with the existing environmental laws, but there needs to be reasonable development to provide for the housing needs of younger residents. With respect to business, we need to do everything within reason to keep our existing businesses from leaving by responding to their requests for services including water and sewer expansion.
I am committed to listening to the taxpayers of the Town of Skaneateles. I learned over many years as a federal employee that government employees work for the taxpayers, not the other way around. I also believe that any board decision on a contentious issue should be explained to the public in writing. The taxpayers deserve that kind of transparency. I pledge to do just that.
I was born, raised, and lived my entire life in Skaneateles. I live on the east side of the lake with my wife of 35 years, Elaine. We have 3 children, who are the fifth generation of Tuckers to grow up in our town.
I am the fourth generation to own and operate John F. Tucker and Sons, a dairy and crop farm. While running my small business I gained experience which will be invaluable as a Town Board member. This includes budgets and finances, managing staff and benefits, understanding payroll and government regulations, and many other tasks.
For 23 years, I served on the Town Planning Board, 16 years of those as Chairman. During this time, I worked with Supervisors, Board members, and Professionals all with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. I have helped hundreds of residents to build or improve their homes and businesses while ensuring that the interests of the community were upheld. These experiences will allow me to better solve the issues facing our community.
I currently serve on the Town Zoning Board of Appeals and Open Space Committee. My other board service includes the Onondaga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program and the Onondaga County Farm Bureau.
I’ve served as a member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee at the Skaneateles United Methodist Church which has given me the experience of working with employees and issues affecting members of the congregation.
I wish to continue serving my community and believe that my knowledge and perspective will be an asset to our Town Board. I will bring an open mind to all issues, listen to all sides and review all data before making decisions. My many years of service to the Town and my experience will allow me to make decisions that best benefit our community.
We must continue implementing changes to our zoning code to reflect the new Comprehensive Plan. We can improve communication within the Town and Village government by ensuring members attend other board meetings, which I have done and will continue to do. Board members must also continue to educate themselves about the zoning code to make better informed decisions.
Unnecessary spending is an issue that needs to be closely monitored. We must look hard at all the things we want to accomplish and identify the most important goals. For all services that the town uses, we must encourage competition, write our proposals such that they don’t favor one company, and make selections based on what will bring best value to the town.
We must promote Skaneateles as a place for new businesses to thrive and existing ones to expand while protecting the environment and important town priorities.
We need to continue to improve services for our residents. Revitalizing the water system and expanding high speed internet for everyone are top priorities. We must also ensure that all services are affordable.
Continued preservation of open space and farmland is critical. This can be encouraged through working with homeowners to apply for funds to purchase development rights and by the Town seeking grants to pursue these initiatives. We must continue to protect our lake and open views around the community to maintain the beauty of our Town.
My experience working with the town for 23 years gives me unique perspective and understanding of issues affecting our residents. I know what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. I will work hard to limit spending and keep taxes as low as possible while providing needed services to our residents. I am available to visit with you, take your calls and listen to your concerns and ideas. For more information, please find me on Facebook at “Mark Tucker for Town Board.” I look forward to serving you.