Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wellsville mayoral candidates square off in debate

More than 100 people filled the Nancy Howe Auditorium Thursday night as the three candidates for Wellsville mayor sat down for a 75 minutes debate. The candidates included Democrat Incumbent Judy Lynch, Republic Trustee Randy
Shayler and Independent James Dorsette.
Questions came from moderators John Anderson, regional editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter (left) and Neal Simon, city editor of the Hornell Evening Tribune (right) as well as those submitted by the audience.
In her opening remarks, Lynch said "every mayor has goals and dreams." Some are easy while others take time and money, she added. Lynch said 30 days into her term as mayor, a portion of the Burrous building collapsed which triggered public consternation that continues today. She stands by her decision to save the building. The mayor said she'll fight to bring in more retail, housing and jobs.
"I'm not as polished," was James Dorsette's opening remark. Dorsette in the New York City and was an Auxiliary Police Sergeant , noting he has spent times in economically challenged areas. He said the greatest resource the village has is its people.
Speaking firmly and clearly, Randy Shayler began by saying that taxes were his number one issue. Shayler said he would propose a plan to reduce taxes for each of the next four years. He said that some departments would "have to do a little more with a little less." "This can be done," he added. Shayler also suggested greater utilization of shared services.
This is a summary of what each candidate said when asked specific questions:
#1:The police department has been an issue in previous campaigns. Will you keep it the same, expand it or cut it?
Dorsette: He said the village should have an reserve officers program and an outreach program for youth. He said there should be greater protection for the schools. "I don't think about police cuts at budget cuts," Dorsette said.
Shayler: He said he just completed a ride-along with police and called it "eye-opening." "A lot goes on that we don't know about," the candidate said, adding that there are "dangerous places in the village." Shayler said he would looking into the 7 day on, 7 day off schedule, calling it expensive. "We need to keep the police force," he said.
Lynch: She began by saying "it's nice we all agree to keep the police department." She pointed out that the police department budget has been reduced by $50,000 the last two years. She also said it is sometimes difficult to remove things from a union contract.
Dorsette rebuttal: "You can't put a price on a human life." They need dash and body cameras.
#2:Is the village taking the rights steps with the Burrous Building?
Shayler: Supported stabilizing building. "It was right to go after grant money," he said. The bigger problem here is the tax rate.
Lynch: Four years ago, it would have cost $800,000 to demolish the building, which would have boosted taxes 4-5% annually, she said. Regarding the building, Lynch said "it will come back to life."
Dorsette: He said the building went the past 20 years without a code violation, questioning, what was the cause and effect? He also referred to long standing tax issues and grievances with the building.
#3: Opinion on Walmart?
Lynch: Main Street is stable. She said "I just don't see it harming our Main Street. "I', okay with Walmart," she said.
Dorsette: We need to ask the people and working with the Chamber of Commerce. "I want to hear from you," he added.
Shayler: "I'm in favor of a Walmart," he said. Shayler said, "if it's good for the town, it's good for the village."
#4: What can be done to grow village businesses?
Dorsette: He has an 8-point plan and will encourage community outreach. Look at adjacent communities. Do homework.
Shayler: He said the village has funding and can loan start-ups or expansion up to $30,000. He'll also ask the County Industrial Development Agency for advice on filling the former Pizza Hut space.
Lynch: Reiterated that the village has funding for businesses. "Main Street is filling up," Lynch noted.
#5: Do you have a plan to cut taxes?
Shayler: Has an eight area approach to include such things as privatizing some service (example-trash collection), cutting some reserve accounts down, sell some services to others, examine tax-exempt property.
Lynch: The mayor said "cutting taxes is difficult without losing services or employees. In the past three years, the village tax rate has been lowered from $20.49 per thousand to $17.44 per thousand. She said it's better to grow property values and add to the assessment rolls.
Dorsette: He said he would be "reluctant to propose a cut," but did say that if elected, his salary would be $1. "My approach won't be arbitrary," he said.
Closing statements:

Shayler: "We can cut taxes in a sustained manor...we can do it."
Dorsette: Wellsville is a small community and its people are the greatest resource. Dorsette said there were "good-hearted people here."
Lynch:Cutting taxes is important but we must make the community welcoming. Main Street grants will kick in next year and the community will see changes. Lynch said "I want to continue...I'd like another four years."