Editor’s note: In the town of Clay, Democrat Beth Lockhart is running for town supervisor and Democrat Denise Baker is running for town clerk. We erroneously reported last week that incumbents for both offices were running unopposed. We regret the error. Below please find a profile for Baker; Lockhart had not submitted hers by the deadline.
In Clay, voters will elect a town supervisor, three town board members, a town clerk and a tax receiver. 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.
Hi, my name is Damian M. Ulatowski and I am the supervisor for the town of Clay, the 4th lowest tax community in Onondaga County, 17th largest town in New York state and home to almost 60,000 residents. I’ve called North Syracuse my home since 1979 when I married my wife Mary Ellen. We have enjoyed 39 years together, raised two children and currently enjoy the company of three grandchildren.
I’ve been actively involved in the community for decades acting as a Little League coach, youth basketball coach and am currently a lector at St. Rose of Lima Church in North Syracuse. I serve on a number of boards including the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority and most recently the County Legislator Shared Services Commission, where we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of a consensus initiative, brought forth by New York state.
I am also employed by Affordable Benefit Concepts, Inc. where I serve as a benefit consultant.
I am endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.
I’m running for office because I enjoy serving the community and helping make the town of Clay a better place to work, live and raise a family. It has long been in my nature to be a good listener and do everything in my power to help solve problems and find a new direction in which to move forward. I feel it is important that a candidate have qualities like these if they are to fully commit themselves to serving the public.
I’m not sure there really is a best candidate, but a candidate must be committed, have vision and be a leader. They must be innovative and responsive and be open to change. In this capacity it has been my mission to provide the town of Clay with the best possible service based on those qualities.
For example, shortly after taking over as supervisor I right-sized the employment base of the town, town government, town office and immediately started looking at ways to cut expenses while still delivering quality to our residents. With my background in the health insurance industry, I was able to reevaluate our benefit package and save the town hundreds of thousands of dollars by looking at newer and more competitive benefit options and passed this design to a local insurance agency to deliver and install.
I was also able to secure a $500,000 grant from the federal government to create energy efficiencies at our highway garage where we installed new roofing, boiler and electrical systems, not only updating the facility but generating substantial utility cost savings.
Piggybacking on this, I began to search for other ways to save taxpayer dollars and was able to secure a grant from NYSERDA to install solar arrays behind both the town offices and highway garage where we generate over a third of our electrical power from the renewable resource that sheds light on us every day. We have also sought funding from New York state and have received commitments for projects in our playgrounds, our project green community garden site, Three Rivers Point and are currently in the final stages of an application for a solar array that will generate enough power to reduce our roadway lighting costs substantially. We are currently embracing renewable energy at town hall and are working with Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board to investigate the feasibility of installing an electrical charging station for renewable energy vehicles.
Clay is also a leader in shared services as we have partnered this year with two local communities for dog control services; plow over 17 miles of county roads that weave their way through the town of Clay and partner with the county purchasing department for the procurement of supplies, contracts, RFPs and similar services.
Roads continue to be at the forefront of issues facing the town. The town of Clay currently works with a local engineering firm and Cornell University and together has created a Local Roadway Management Program that have identified every mile of town road, assessed its condition and recommended a course of action for its repair and/or upkeep over the next 20 years. Like any study there’s always room for improvement or change, so it is our goal to work compassionately and cost-effectively with our residents and contractors to update the program as needed and ensure we are addressing those issues that the study may not have detected in the initial assessment.
The town has always been committed to good fiscal government and as such will continue to stay under the governor’s 2 percent mandated tax cap as we have for the last three years. This is always a challenge as the town is committed to its residents and never wants to compromise the delivery of service that every resident is entitled to.
My door will continue to be open and together with my staff we will always remain committed to our residents in order to find resolution, as we want to remain one of the 100 best places to live in America.
I have lived in Clay since the age of 8, growing up listening to the Liverpool Marching Band practice at the high school while I sat on the back porch of my parents’ home. When I left for school one of the things I missed were the sounds of that marching band. So I decided to purchase my first home a short distance from where I grew up so my daughter could experience some of the great benefits the town of Clay has to offer. My daughter is now in community college and will be graduating in May with her associate’s degree.
I am have worked in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years, currently working with community agencies who provide affordable, quality healthcare for individuals within our community. When I’m not at work, I spend time volunteering educating, empowering and identifying resources in the community to promote health and wellness for all individuals. I am a registered Democrat.
Running for Clay town clerk feels like the right thing to do. As our Clay community becomes more diversified, it seems necessary to make sure all voices within our community are heard and taken into consideration. As a newcomer to the political arena, this seemed like the most reasonable step to accomplish that goal and an opportunity to serve my community in a new role. I look forward to providing a new perspective, and most importantly a voice for those within our community who feel their voice is not being heard.
The best candidate provides a voice for all our community and interacts with the board to continue to build and support the goals of our town. I believe my experience working in the community to improve health and wellness for individuals of all backgrounds has prepared me for this next step.
I live in my childhood home in Bayberry with three dogs — an American Eskimo named Beck and two rescued racing greyhounds named Bella and Stanley. My daughter, Jacquie, is pursuing her PhD in neurobiology at Tufts University in Boston.
I’ve lived in the town of Clay for over 40 years, and I have held office as the town clerk since 2009. I am currently endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties.
In my time as town clerk, I have enjoyed the opportunity to provide affordable services to the residents of Clay, and I would like the opportunity to continue to serve the needs of the many wonderful folks in my community.
I have worked extensively to advance my training so that we can offer the very best to our residents. I am currently working to improve the technology in the clerk’s office to keep us running efficiently. In addition, my staff and I have sought to provide information through our office and through community events, including co-hosting Rabies Clinics with the Onondaga County Health Department every May and directing residents to low-cost spaying and neutering services. We strive to keep our dog licensing one of the lowest in the county while still providing excellent service.
Alongside our other functions, we have extended our services to accept new passport applications, improving accessibility for our residents. I am proud of my community and I feel that my experience and dedication to my neighbors makes me the best candidate for this position.
The town clerk has no authority to vote on issues before the board; however, I serve as a liaison to the supervisor and the town board for the residents bringing concerns to my office.
I am 51 years old, married with two grown children. I have worked for the town of Clay tax office for 30 years, the first 10 as deputy receiver of taxes, and the last 20 as receiver of taxes. I am a 40-year resident of the town and a graduate of Cicero-North Syracuse High school. After my marriage, my husband and I chose to remain in Clay and raise our family here, and are now in the third home we have owned in the town.
I am running for this position because I enjoy serving the public on a local level and providing the personal service that can be hard to find in government. I have come to know many of our taxpayers and I think I have earned their trust through my many years of service. They know they can come to me with problems and questions concerning their taxes, and I will spend whatever time it takes to get their issues resolved, to the best of my ability. I enjoy working in the community I have called home for so many years and I am proud to serve the residents of my town.
I think I am the best candidate because of my many years of experience in the office. I have participated in extensive education and training, which are crucial for the proper management of this unique type of position, which collects well over $100 million a year. Since our collection is governed by New York State Real Property Tax Law, I am an active member of both the Onondaga County and New York State Tax Receivers’ Associations in order to stay well versed in the legal matters concerning our collections.
The major issue my department deals with is the rising costs of taxes and the difficulty people have paying them. While we cannot control the amounts of their bills, we can assist them in taking advantage of any exemptions they may qualify for and guide them through the application process. We have implemented a partial payment program that enables taxpayers to pay as they can throughout our collection. We have also granted senior citizens with a low-income senior exemption on their bill an additional week to pay without penalty to try and help ease some of the burden they face.