Vote local: Tompkins Co. towns offer choices

By Rob Montana
Tompkins Weekly

With the bulk of the talk this election season revolving around those running for president, it’s important to remember that local offices have the largest impact on the day-to-day life in our communities. That said, there are only three towns with contested races facing voters when they go to the polls on Tuesday, November 8.
Two town board seats in Dryden are up for grabs, with the incumbent councilpersons seeking re-election and two others – including a write-in candidate – looking to bring their energy and experience to the town’s leadership. There is a two-person race to finish the remainder of a term for one Enfield town board seat, and two people are vying to be Lansing town clerk. There also are unopposed races, such as those in the towns of Caroline, Ithaca and Ulysses – though the latter has two propositions on the ballot to change a pair of elected positions to appointed ones.
The following is a closer look at what voters will see when they get ready to cast their ballot on Election Day:

 

Town of Caroline
Calvin Snow is running unopposed for a 1-year term on the Caroline Town Council, filling a vacancy He is listed on both the Democratic and Republican lines. He was appointed to the town board in February, and is running to fill the remainder of the vacancy he was appointed to fill.

 

Town of Dryden
There is a four-way race for two seats on the Dryden Town Council – Dan Lamb and Kathy Servoss are both listed on the Democratic and Protecting Dryden lines, while Deanna Madigan is listed on the Republican and Independence lines; Lamb and Servoss are incumbents. Randy Sterling, a registered Republican and member of the Dryden village board, has announced he is running a write-in campaign for a seat on the board.

 

Photo Provided Dan Lamb
Photo Provided
Dan Lamb

Lamb, 53, is a lecturer in the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and serves as deputy supervisor for the Town of Dryden.
Tompkins Weekly: What experience do you have working in public service, whether that is by election or appointment?
Dan Lamb: I’ve served as Deputy Supervisor since January and worked over two decades at the federal, state and local levels of government. As District Representative for Congressman (Maurice) Hinchey, I gained invaluable experience protecting the environment, improving infrastructure, and bringing jobs to this region – including helping to secure over a million dollars for Dryden projects. But most importantly, I learned the fundamental importance of being responsive and serving constituents.

TW: Why are you running for election to the Dryden Town Council?
DL: I deeply enjoy the work and share the vision of my colleagues who want to help Dryden grow into a more vibrant community. I am also running because my background allows me to actively contribute to the effective and efficient management of the town

TW: What are the three biggest issues you see facing the town?
DL: Keeping taxes low and right-sizing the budget are important to residents and top concerns of mine. Public involvement in this process is critical and greatly appreciated. We must balance the priorities of the residents with what’s affordable.
Dryden is growing in population and we must guide this growth to ensure that proposed developments meet standards for design, efficiency, planning and zoning compatibility. How we perform this work shapes our legacy.
I wrote the resolution creating the Rail Trail Task Force. This mix-use trail will increase recreational and economic opportunities for residents by connecting the villages of Dryden and Freeville with Etna, Varna, and Ithaca.
Additionally, we must revitalize the town’s recreation programs and provide efficient programs tailored to the priorities of our residents. I want to ensure services reflect the needs of residents throughout the town.

TW: What is it about your background that you think makes you the best candidate for the position?
DL: Local government is increasingly complicated and town management requires considerable public policy expertise. I teach inter-governmental relations, consulting, and policymaking and stay current on these topics. I believe this experience, in addition to my prior work, enhances the progress we are making on the town board. Having recently helped run a small business, I also appreciate the challenges facing small businesses in Dryden.

 

Photo Provided Kathy Servoss
Photo Provided
Kathy Servoss

Servoss, 46, is serving as an appointed member of the town board.
Tompkins Weekly: What experience do you have working in public service, whether that is by election or appointment?
Kathy Servoss: I have 25-plus years working in various public service positions, including the past 8 1/2 years with the City of Ithaca in the Department of Public Works. For the past 5 years, I have volunteered on several boards and committees in Tompkins County, including representing the Town of Dryden and Villages of Dryden and Freeville on the Tompkins County Youth Services Board, chairing the Dryden Recreation and Youth Commission, and revitalizing the Dryden Lake Festival.

TW: Why are you running for election to the Dryden Town Council?
KS: I feel empowered with the ability to listen to residents and business owners and make changes to policies and laws when they are needed. Also, the Town of Dryden embraced me and my family when we moved here in 2007. This has inspired me to give back to the community. I have enjoyed my time on the board this year and hope to continue learning, serving and making a difference.
TW: What are the three biggest issues you see facing the town?
KS: First, there is a sense from residents that many living in the town, the biggest in Tompkins County, are actually living in the Town of Ithaca because they have an Ithaca address and their children attend Ithaca schools. These residents do not know about any of the services provided by the Town of Dryden or all the natural beauty the Town has to offer. I would like to unite all of the villages, hamlets and neighborhoods that are located within the town lines.
Second, there are a limited number of recreation facilities and programs for youth and adults. Some communities, such as Varna, do not have public park space. To help address that, the Town is working hard to build the Varna/Freeville/Dryden Rail Trail, the first phase of which includes connecting to the East Hill Recreation Way at Game Farm Road, following the old rail bed through Varna to Route 13. In addition, the Town is working with the Village to rebuild the basketball courts in the near future, which will allow the Town Recreation Department to hold programming at Montgomery Park during the summer.
Third, more businesses need to be attracted to the Town. Economic development has been rather slow going recently. It would be great to have more businesses locate in the town to create more jobs and provide more opportunities for residents. We need to work hand-in-hand with the Village of Dryden to make that happen along Rte. 13/38 in the Village.

TW: What is it about your background that you think makes you the best candidate for the position?
KS: For the past 8 years, I have been working with lawmakers in the City of Ithaca to modify or create new policies and laws. My experience in the public works department has given me a great understanding of engineering, construction, infrastructure and provided me with a great network of people that I can tap into for additional assistance, if needed. I have also had many years of budgeting and keeping track of expenditures. I help residents and constituents on a daily basis and know how to listen to concerns.

 

Photo Provided Deana Madigan
Photo Provided
Deana Madigan

Madigan, 45, is a business owner and stylist at her hair salon in Dryden, which she has been a part of for 18 years.
Tompkins Weekly: What experience do you have working in public service, whether that is by election or appointment?
Deana Madigan: I’ve been a volunteer in the Dryden school district for about 10 years, which I’ve done a lot of community service through. I’ve been a volunteer coach through the Dryden Recreation Department and Dryden Kiwanis. I’ve also been a community volunteer and missionary for my local church, and I’m also an active participant in a group at Dryden school – Parents Promoting Positive Change.

TW: Why are you running for election to the Dryden Town Council?
DM: Initially, I’d seen the town board making decisions on how to spend money, and I was in disagreement with how they were spending money. It sort of alarmed me when I went to that first board meeting and I didn’t know any board members. Then I found out, district wise, that there were not any board members in the district I’m in, District 14, and I felt that was not fair representation for the Town of Dryden. I started going to meetings and realized we needed someone on the board to put the people of Dryden first; people need to know the board members and put their money in the hands of people they trust.

TW: What are the three biggest issues you see facing the town?
DM: Economic and recreational development is a huge thing. Overall, we have the highest taxes – when you look at school and town – in Tompkins County. I know of several families that looked at moving here and didn’t because the taxes are so high.
There is a lack of growth in our town which doesn’t help the taxes, and they are in contemplation of raising them again.
The third concern is to build back up our reserves, which have been spent down, so we have money for bridges that need repairs and so we don’t have to cut the highway department budget.
I want Dryden to be a place people want to come to.

TW: What is it about your background that you think makes you the best candidate for the position?
DM: I know the people of Dryden, and they know me and trust me. You don’t have a business in town for 18 years without knowing how to be debt free, how to balance your budget and spend no more than you have. I think my financial experience is beneficial, and I know what people in Dryden want. I’m in the community, I am constantly reaching out to different people and different businesses. They’re not afraid to tell me what I think and I respect that.

 

Photo Provided Randy Sterling
Photo Provided
Randy Sterling

Sterling, 64, is a registered Republican, but has decided in the last couple of weeks to run for a seat on the board as a write-in candidate. Those wishing to vote for him need to write in his name – Randy or Randall Sterling – in the designated space on the ballot before they cast it. He is a retired Ithaca police officer (32 years), New York State Courts peace officer (7 years), and part-time Dryden police officer (24 years). He works part-time for the Franziska Racker Center as a mentor.
Tompkins Weekly: What experience do you have working in public service, whether that is by election or appointment?
Randy Sterling: I was mayor of the Village of Dryden from 2009-2013; two and a half years prior to that, from 2006-2009, I was on the village board. I was defeated when I ran for mayor again in March 2013 by Jim Zimmer. In January 2016, he retired and I ran for trustee again and won. (If elected to the town board, Sterling would resign from the village board due to a conflict of interest that would arise if he were serving on both municipal boards.)

TW: Why are you running for election to the Dryden Town Council?
RS: There are challenges with housing, with water, sewer, things that need to be addressed with builders who want to build here. There is a perception that we are wanting to keep Dryden small, but the town includes the Etna, McLean, Varna and the Village of Dryden – we all have to communicate and get along. Dryden is a great place to live, a great place to raise a family. Like most towns around here, we are a bedroom community. We want to have controlled growth to inspire small businesses and new homes here.
I don’t think the board should be talking about New York City or the Pacific Ocean; we need more of a focus on Dryden. It’s the people here that we serve and are the ones who pay the taxes. The recent boards have spent down the reserves of around $5 million – they’ll say they were told to do that by the governor, but the governor doesn’t run the town.

TW: What are the three biggest issues you see facing the town?
RS: Dryden can’t be all five hamlets or villages – we need to come together. We need to have better communication and get people talking within the whole town, we need to not treat people east of Varna as if they are in another country or another world – just basic civility and treating people the way you want to be treated.
Having lived and worked in the village, I’ve focused on the village. There are issues of water, that’s why we drilled the well by Dryden Lake.
Water and controlled growth are the major issues, and cooperation between the town and the village.

TW: What is it about your background that you think makes you the best candidate for the position?
RS: I’ve seen human need at its worst and what people can accomplish at their best. I’ve patrolled the streets of Ithaca and Dryden, and I know what it’s like to live in Tompkins County. I don’t know all of the town, but I do know the village and the area between the village and the City of Ithaca. I think can address the needs we have here and assist the current supervisor with my knowledge and experience.

 

Town of Enfield
William Connors, on the Republican and Libertarian ballot lines, and Beth McGee, on the Democratic ballot line are vying to fill a vacancy for a one-year term on the Enfield town board. An interview with these candidates will be published in the next issue of Tompkins Weekly on November 7, and will be available before that online at www.TompkinsWeekly.com.

 

Town of Lansing
The town clerk is the sole race facing voters in the Town of Lansing, with Debbie Munson – who currently serves as town clerk – facing a challenge from Tammy Morse, who currently serves as clerk for the Village of Trumansburg. They are vying to fill the remaining three years on the current term for the position. An interview with these candidates will be published in the next issue of Tompkins Weekly on November 7, and will be available before that online at www.TompkinsWeekly.com.

 

Town of Ulysses
Interim Highway Superintendent David Reynolds is running to fill the remaining one year left on a term vacated by Jim Meeker when he retired at the end of 2015. Unopposed for the position, Reynolds is listed on the Democratic and Republican lines.
Town Justice Thomas Schlee is running unopposed in his bid for re-election to the post for a four-year term; he is listed on the Democratic, Green and Working Families ballot lines.
Ulysses also has two propositions on the ballot, both to change elected positions to ones appointed by the town board. Proposition 1 is to abolish the elected highway superintendent position and create an appointed highway superintendent position. Proposition 2 is to abolish the elected town clerk position and create an appointed town clerk position.