In Cicero, voters will elect a town supervisor, two town board members, a town clerk, a tax receiver and a town highway superintendent. Learn more about each candidate below. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. To determine your polling place, visit ongov.net/elections/index.html and click on “Polling Place Locator” or call the Onondaga County Board of Elections at (315) 435-8683. Note: Highway Superintendent Chris Woznica, who is running unopposed, did not return the Star-Review’s questionnaire.
I am the town supervisor for the town of Cicero. I was born and raised in North Syracuse and have lived in Cicero 25 years. I am 61 years old. My wife MaryEllen and I have four grown children and six grandchildren. A product of the North Syracuse school district, I graduated from Cicero High School and received my college degrees from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College. I retired in 2011 after a successful career of 36 years with UPS in both operations management and business to business sales. I am a Ciceronian first, and a registered Republican second. I have been endorsed also by the Independence, Conservative and Onondaga County Veterans parties and the Teamsters Local 317.
Two years ago, I said, “I want to give back to my country and community. I feel strongly about our community and believe as a citizen I have a responsibility to help our community become an even better place.” Two years ago, the Cicero residents were very clear: Put Cicero on the right course for our future. Fiscally: Stop borrowing and address the debt, hold taxes, provide transparency. Growth: Attract business and create jobs, ever mindful of the quality of life issues of traffic and neighborhoods and repair our roads. Community: Provide the services and safety that we all rely on, that make Cicero a great place to live and raise a family.
I want to continue giving back to my country and community and am determined to finish the job that I began. In less than two years, we have stopped borrowing money to meet our daily operating expenses. We returned $483,194 to the town’s fund balance, along with an additional $650,000, and paid $648,767 toward the town’s accumulated debt. Standard & Poor awarded the town an AA credit rating this year based upon my long term fiscal plan. This, I am told, places Cicero in the elite of all towns financially in New York state.
We will continue our outreach to our senior citizens and veterans. We started a program to proactively identify seniors, veterans and the spouses of veterans in our town who may be eligible for state and county programs and monies to assist them with such things as home repairs, heating, and meal assistance. We have been so successful with our outreach, that other towns have asked us for guidance in establishing their own outreach programs.
We have set the stage for job development in Cicero. We have proactively defined and rezoned our business districts (Phase 1, Route 11 from Bear Road north to the Oswego county line, Route 31 from the Clay line to South Bay Road and East Taft Road properties around Hancock Air Park). Onondaga County Planning said that this was too big a project for the town to handle in one year alone. We not only handled it, we conducted six public hearings and did it in a matter of months. We have changed our procedures internally to make it easier to do business in Cicero, which greatly reduces the cost for a business to expand or locate here. This will be very important for our future as it will allow the town to better control the tax burden on our home owners.
With the changes implemented in 2016, we increased our business-assessed value by nearly $14 million for the 2016 tax roll year. The NY Lineman’s School, Byrne Dairy, Can-Tech Automotive, Karate John’s, O’Connell Electric, Tocco Villagio and Chick-fil-A are just a few of the companies that located or expanded here. Job development will continue to be a priority in 2018 and beyond.
For Phase 2 of our rezoning, we are identifying and are proactively rezoning properties that are “non-conforming” within our town. For example, we have many properties zoned as agricultural that, in fact, do not meet the legal definition of agricultural zoning. Because of this, the property seller or buyer would need to correct the zoning before a new mortgage might be obtained or a building permit issued. The cost to an individual to do this (permit and legal fees) is approximately $10,000. The town is proactively making the corrections at no additional cost to our residents. This rezoning is making Cicero more attractive to potential residents and businesses alike.
We have made great progress with the hamlet of Brewerton, specifically Riverfront Park. The hamlet of Brewerton is the gateway to the town of Cicero, as well to Onondaga County. We successfully negotiated with both the NYS Department of Transportation and with the Native American nations to move forward with the acquisition of the two empty lots adjacent to the park. The plan is for DOT to acquire them and turn them over to the town by years end. Our plan is to complete work on Bennett Street this year and to utilize the state grants that we were able to secure.
We have taken the necessary steps to repair our sanitary sewer system in Brewerton. The issue of fresh water getting into the sanitary sewer and overwhelming the treatment plant was identified more than 20 years ago. After setting money aside and successfully securing grants, our town engineer tells us that we will remove over 11 million gallons of fresh water per year from the Brewerton treatment plant by end of 2017 with additional results expected in 2018. This is not only great for the environment, but necessary for Cicero’s future.
We have hired a human resource manager and a safety manager. They ensure that we are in compliance with all New York state laws and regulations, and that the safety of our team and the safety of the public is a priority for everyone every day.
I view our town as a $14 million business. My record these last two years is proof of my ability to get the job done. We have not only identified the town’s immediate and long-term challenges, but we have developed solutions, brought people together to implement those solutions and obtained positive and measurable results.
For example, we instituted a comprehensive health and safety program that I’m told is unique and unprecedented in the public sector. It covers everything from safety awareness in an office environment to formal driver training for our highway and parks team members. The result has been a higher level of safety awareness and a higher level of professionalism with our drivers and equipment operators. We are developing a lasting culture of safety that will keep our people safe and one that, so far, has enabled us to begin to control our workers compensation costs. In 2015, our compensation insurance carrier paid out or held in reserves a total of $299,217.90 to cover work related injuries and disabilities. With the success of this program so far, and with the cooperation of your Cicero team, the payout and reserves were reduced to under $19,000 in 2016. We are on plan to do even better this year. Sustaining that success will allow us to substantially reduce that premium cost which now hovers around $420,000 per year. This is a “win win.” We are not just reducing costs; we are developing a safer and better work environment for our employees, and for our residents. The implementation of this safety program also earned me the New York State Public Employee Risk Management (PERMA) Safety Person of the Year Award.
We successfully negotiated labor agreements in 2017 with two of our three labor unions. These agreements successfully begin to address taxpayer cost and yet provide for the wellbeing of our team members. Regrettably, as we were unable to come to an agreement with the third bargaining unit, we have entered into binding arbitration. Our labor contracts demonstrate my ability and resolve to negotiate fairly and in the best interests of the taxpayer and the employees that serve our community.
The issues of the town having enough revenue to cover its costs; maintaining the services that our residents expect; getting our many town roads repaired and meeting the increasing cost of state mandates will continue to be a challenge for Cicero. I will continue to push hard for job creation and for a larger tax base as well as for a redistribution of our county sales tax monies. We will follow through with the completion of the approved highway garage; with bringing our court facilities into compliance with the current New York State Courts regulations and the relocation of our police department from its obsolete and worn out building to a long-term facility that will meet our needs for today and tomorrow. We will continue to explore ways to share more services and resources with other towns, the county and the city.
I’m a 58 year-old Democrat who’s lived in Cicero since August of 1990. My husband of 10 years died in June. Marlowe had a son who lives in Brasher Falls with his wife and children. I have a daughter and grandson in Kansas City.
Since May of 2012, I’ve worked for Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES performing financial software support.
My focus first turned from national and state to town politics during the recent highway garage referendum. I feel the referendum should have been an automatic process for a project of that size rather than citizens having to pass a petition to have their say.
Along with my belief that the residents of Cicero have a right to vote on any major bond issue (or anything that would create a major debt the taxpayers would be responsible to pay), I have more than five years experience with government accounting, six years of purchasing, two years as a business owner, three years as a legal secretary and more than 10 years of customer service. The skills and knowledge gained through work and volunteer experience (American Postal Workers’ Union of Central New York, Teamsters Local317, COMBO (subsidiary of NYSUT), Working Families Party, and NOW’S Central New York Chapter) would enable me to perform the duties of Cicero town supervisor.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.