Beth McGee is proud of what she has accomplished as the Town Supervisor for Enfield but she’s not done yet. The incumbent is running for re-election on both the Democrat and Republican lines and faces a Democratic challenge in the primary from candidate Amanda Kirchgessner.
This is her fifth year serving on the town board. She and the other members have gotten a lot of good work done, and started a lot of good work, she said, and because of that, she’s received community support to run again.
“I would like to set our town off on a good trajectory,” she said. “Enfield is an interesting little town. Generally, we’ve been a town that things happen to, rather than a town that makes things happen.”
She wants to see the town become more proactive instead of reactive. She sees her town lagging behind in a lot of ways; little development, a small tax base, and no water and sewer. She is not daunted by these challenges.
One of the ways she would like to see become more predictable is the tax rate. Years past have seen increases as high as 30 percent, as low as seven percent, and last year the tax rate went down. To help prevent this she wants to do more capital planning, that way things don’t have to be paid for as they are happening, but can be prepared for over time.
“That’s just never been a thing, in Enfield,” McGee said of careful planning to pay for replacing equipment and maintaining town resources. “It’s really not a very efficient way to run a municipality.”
Last year McGee wrote and received three grants to pay for necessary projects in the town. One of the grants, for $360,000, is being used to build a new salt storage building. Currently, the salt pile sits just a few hundred feet from an aquifer and Enfield Creek that feeds into the Cayuga watershed. It’s one of the projects she wants to see through to completion.
Along with the new salt storage facility, McGee said the town will be building a solar array to help offset electricity costs for municipal buildings, using money from a grant. The community building has also seen some upgrades, including a new accessible bathroom, using grant money from Home Depot. Upgrading this space was important to McGee because of what it symbolized in a larger context.
“It was pretty dilapidated before then,” McGee said. “The people that tend to use the space are more disadvantaged. We have the food pantry in that building, so this adjoining space was a space that people would come in. I was like ‘What does this tell people we think they’re worth? They’re in this place and this is all we’re going to do for it?’”
Many of the other upgrades and changes McGee would like to make are much less flashy, and not all of them are public facing. The town government needs updated policy manuals to reflect all the policy changes that have been made over the years.
“I like to see things in order,” she said of the need for more organization at the town level. “Most of my first year was just going ‘What?’”
Now, she feels confident in the direction the town is going and wants to continue that way.
McGee found herself in politics when she became a founding member of the environmental action group, Enfield Neighbors for Safe Air and Water (ENSAW) which held educational events in the community and petitioned to ban fracking in the town. After getting the town board to ban fracking, McGee said it became imperative for ENSAW to get people into local government to protect the work they’d accomplished.
When she returned from a year in Florida, McGee ran again while the big issue in the area was the Black Oak Wind Farm debate. The issue had been going on for years and she believed the conversation was just going in circles.
“No one was understanding really what was happening,” she said.
It was a tactic she felt might have been by design, that it’s often assumed that small town boards don’t have the resources or wherewithal to learn and govern. She did the research necessary to put a moratorium in place “so the town could regroup and get itself in order.”
Order is at the root of McGee’s platform. She said she wants whoever follows her to feel like the town is set up efficiently. The town does not have a clear emergency management plan. The last time an official policy manual was put in place was 2004 and since then there have been updates and amendments, it’s an issue that has cost the town money. Enfield also does not have a fund balance policy and often has a low fund balance.
As a candidate, McGee wants residents to know she’s very hands-on (she’s even replaced toilets in the municipal buildings herself), is outspoken and direct, but willing to change her mind if someone comes to her with a better way of doing things.
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