PLATTSBURGH — Five candidates are running for three seats on the Plattsburgh Town Council.
Incumbent Democrats Tom Wood and Martin Mannix face Republican Tom Metz for two four-year terms, while incumbent Republican Gerard Renadette faces Democrat Michael Verville for the unexpired two-year term.
The latter became necessary when Renadette had to resign from the Town Council in order to maximize his retirement from the New York State Department of Corrections. He was reappointed by the council effective the following day.
The Press-Republican asked each candidate what he want to accomplish if elected. Here are their written responses:
Wood, a retired educator in the New York State Department of Corrections seeking a third term on the Town Council, said he will continually strive to do what is best for the Town of Plattsburgh.
"Having served on a committee of dedicated town residents who completed an update to the Town Master Plan to ensure the best future use of our land and resources, I now participate with a committee working on the revision of our codes and zoning ordinance.
"During this economic downturn, the town has still been able to attract new business and create new jobs.
"We continue to face many opportunities and challenges which will test our ability to cooperate and innovate as a community. Should you entrust me with another term as representative on your Town Council, I will continue to make good use of our opportunities for responsible growth, promote higher wage jobs, upgrade our infrastructure, seek grants and shared services to keep costs down and be open and responsive to the needs and desires of the residents of the town.
"There are opportunities for the town to enhance tourism in the area, as well. In addition to the new and expanded shopping areas planned, I have promoted a trail system, where possible, in the town and the Saranac Trail extension through the Town of Plattsburgh. These will not only help increase tourism but will enhance the quality of life for you while giving us more assets in attracting new businesses."
Mannix, who retired from Northern Insurance in 2004 after 36 years, is seeking re-election to the council seat he won in 2007.
"If re-elected, I would seek to continue the strong financial policies this board has put in place. We have worked hard to complete audits for years 2005 through 2009. Year 2010 is currently in process, and that will put the town on a 'current' basis.
"New controls have been put in place, which the New York State Comptroller's Office agrees will work to protect town assets and serve as a template for future administrations. These steps will also reduce our auditing expenses. Employees are on board with these new guidelines. They appreciate them and recognize that they bring order to their job functions.
"As a member of the Building & Grounds Committee, I have sought to find ways to improve our facilities and save taxpayers money. We have worked with NYSERDA and NYSEG to find programs that advance our technology and reduce electrical consumption. These steps have shrunk our carbon footprint and reduced our monthly energy bills. We believe that by this time next year we will have accomplished at least a 33-percent reduction in our costs.
"As a member of the board, I want to work to demonstrate that we can abide by the 2-percent tax cap. That will certainly be challenging, but it will be one of my goals for the Town of Plattsburgh to prove that we can continue to be Clinton County's economic engine and contain our expenses accordingly. If we are to do this, we must have assurances from the state that they will curtail unfunded mandates. We have opened channels of communication with Governor Cuomo's administration that hopefully will assist us in this regard."
Metz is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a retired adjunct professor at Clinton Community College and Plattsburgh State.
"Being a town councilor carries obligations to all the voters/residents. Among these are the commitment to manage their taxes for the benefit of our town residents, ensuring that needed services are provided and listening to our people.
"Sometimes the economy necessitates asking, 'Why should the town do this when the taxpayers won't get good value in return?' As a councilor, my duty is to the taxpayers of Plattsburgh.
"Our current economy demands every individual makes wise decisions on where to spend their money. That holds true for the Town Council also; the numbers may be bigger, but the need is still there to squeeze every bit of value from your tax dollars spent.
"We need to look for 'better' ways to manage your tax money; spending money the way we did when the economy was booming no longer works. And just because the town has some dollars does not mean it has to spend them; leftover money should be returned to the taxpayer (by reducing the amount needed on the next tax bill). A town has the authority to tax; I believe it also has an obligation to use those tax dollars wisely.
"A town is created to serve its residents by providing services. Some necessary functions are highway maintenance and water and sewer systems. Everyone deserves safe roads and clean, safe drinking water. The Town Council must act to ensure these vital services are in great shape.
"Even people who have their own wells and septic systems understand that some neighborhoods need town water for healthy living. And we all need roads that can be used safely (cleared of snow and have few potholes).
"Councilors serve as the voice of the people. I intend to listen to what our residents say; then I can bring their issues before the board for discussion. The Town of Plattsburgh cannot operate effectively unless we know what the taxpayers are saying."
Renadette, who is retired after 28 years with the New York State Department of Corrections, is seeking re-election after almost 15 years on the Town Council.
"It has always been my goal to serve everyone in the Town of Plattsburgh. I have and will continue to work with the rest of the board to make sure that the needs of all residents are addressed.
"I am especially proud of the way I have worked across the aisle to express my own views and to develop a consensus with others on the board."
"As the appointed representative on the town's Board of Ethics, I have taken a proactive role to reaffirm the public's trust in its elected and appointed officials. This was a goal of mine almost five years ago, and I am very proud to say that the town finally has an active ethics board to work as a tool to keep conflict out of politics in our town.
"It is my intention to continue to keep town spending under control, consolidating services where practical and at the same time maintaining the highest standards of your equipment and services.
"I still believe that budgeting town money in a way that the town's homeowners budget their own money can accomplish this."
Verville, president of Verville Enterprises and PP Enterprise, is a local developer who is retired from the State Department of Corrections.
"I believe that Clinton County in the Town of Plattsburgh is on the verge of major development. The economy is recovering, the Laurentian project is a reality, and monumental progression is imminent.
"Development is the only answer to controlling spiraling taxes without sacrificing the quality of services to which town residents have grown accustomed.
"My experience as a business person, as a developer and builder will be a tremendous asset to the Town Council and taxpayers. (I have) 14 years of developing in the town working with planning, codes and zoning, water and sewer and highway departments, as well as county departments, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Transportation and the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers left me with the knowledge it takes to make development happen.
"Just last year, I finished the Ridge View Estate project at 942 Route 3. Presently, I am building and partnering in the new Pizza Palace Restaurant being built on the Tom Miller Road.
"I am a family person. I'm dedicated and often very outspoken."
The only other contested race in the Town of Plattsburgh is for town justice, where incumbent Republican Christina Bezrutczyk is challenged by Democrat Jim Joyce.
Incumbent Supervisor Bernie Bassett, a Democrat, is unopposed, as is incumbent Town Clerk Rickey Collins, also a Democrat. Democrat James Woods is running unopposed for highway superintendent and has been endorsed by the Town of Plattsburgh Republican Party.
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