By Rob Montana
Highway superintendent is a hotly contested position in the Town of Ulysses this election season. Not only was there a Republican primary in September, it is the only position in the town that will feature two candidates in the general election.
Last month, Dave Reynolds edged Rick Everts Jr., 88-82, for the Republican nomination for the position. He will be challenged by Benjamin Carver, who was selected at the Ulysses Democratic caucus to be the nominee for highway superintendent.
Reynolds, who has been serving as the town’s highway superintendent since being appointed in January 2016 – filling a vacancy in the position – has worked in the town’s highway department for 29 years. He started as a crew worker/truck driver, increasing his duties to serve as crew foreman and deputy superintendent from 2008-2015, and eventually taking on the superintendent role.
Prior to the Republican primary, we asked both candidates questions about why they were running and important issues facing the town’s highway department.
“Having worked for years as a highway employee with Ulysses, and moving up through the various levels, I have acquired important knowledge and skill to be qualified as a candidate for the highway superintendent position,” Reynolds said about why he was running for re-election in last month’s interview. “I would like to continue working and I would appreciate your vote of confidence.
“The most important task facing the highway department is to accomplish the necessary work of the department,” he said in the pre-primary interview, whether it’s road repair, roadside mowing, snowplowing or overseeing an emergency situation, in the safest most cost effective way whenever possible.”
For the full interview with Reynolds, visit our website at TompkinsWeekly.com/news/2017/09/04/meet-candidates-ulysses-highway-superintendent-dave-reynolds.
We asked the same questions of Carver, and here is what he had to say about the position.
Tompkins Weekly: What is your current position?
Benjamin Carver: I am a crew supervisor for S&S Tree Service, the owner of Carver Tree Care, and a Trustee for the Village of Trumansburg. I am also the EMS Commissioner and Youth Commissioner for the Village.
TW: Why are you running for Ulysses highway superintendent?
BC: I’m running because I have experience and expertise, both in navigating municipal government and in managing crews in the private sector, that I can leverage to move the department towards a more sustainable fiscal future. I also strongly believe that Ulysses needs a superintendent who is more proactive and engaged when it comes to navigating new issues like the town property on Salo Drive, the Black Diamond Trail, and the possible connection between storm water, lake salinization, and the algal bloom.
The highway crew does a great job, and they have decades of experience taking care of Ulysses – I’m not running because I want to fundamentally change what they do, I’m running because I believe I can add needed managerial and administrative skills & experience to the department’s already impressive resume.
TW: What is the most important task facing the highway department currently?
BC: Highway maintenance. That said, life is never that simple; the work can’t be done without a healthy and engaged crew or without the right equipment, but the department can’t run rough-shod with taxpayer money, either. And of course there are the new social and environmental challenges/opportunities that I mentioned above. Ultimately the most important task is finding the proper balance between those often competing interests while protecting the long term interests of the crew, the residents of Ulysses, and land we all enjoy so much.
TW: If elected, what are the top two priorities you would implement for the department?
BC: At least initially, my first priority would be budget analysis and working to bring the department towards fiscal health. Equally important, and ultimately to the same end, I would work with the crew to establish/re-work long-term plans for equipment replacement and upkeep, and for road and infrastructure maintenance.
TW: What skills do you have that make you the best person for the job?
BC: As a trustee I’ve learned to effectively navigate the sometimes byzantine world that is municipal governance and budgeting. As a professional arborist my areas of expertise include driving and operating heavy equipment, managing crews and subcontractors, and planning/executing a wide range of projects and tasks - all while optimizing efficiency, safety, and cost effectiveness.
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The highway superintendent will be the sole contested race in Ulysses, as all other offices up for election will see the incumbent Democrats running for re-election. Town Supervisor Elizabeth Thomas, Town Clerk Carissa Parlato, and town councilpersons Nancy Zahler and Richard Goldman will all be on the Democrat ballot line.
The last day to register in person or by mail for the 2017 general election is October 13; the form must be postmarked by October 13 and received by October 18.
October 13 is also the last day for the Tompkins County Board of Elections to receive/accept change of enrollment forms. The last day to postmark an absentee application for the general election is October 31, and the last day to postmark an absentee ballot for the general election is Monday, November 6.
Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, November 7. Ulysses has three polling places for its four voting districts: Voters in districts 1 and 3 will vote at the Trumansburg Fire Station at 74 W. Main St., Trumansburg; District 2 voters will make their selections at West Hill Community Church at 3049 VanDorn Corners Road, Ithaca; District 4 voters will head to the polls at Franziska Racker Centers at 3226 Wilkins Road, Ithaca.
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