A four-question Q&A was sent to all candidates running in the March 19 village elections. Answers have been edited for length and clarity. The Village of Lansing elections will be held on April 23.
Village of Dryden
Michael Murphy, incumbent candidate running for Mayor of the Village of Dryden (two year term) on the Democrat and Protecting Dryden lines.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I want to complete the many projects that I started this year with the Village Board Trustees as Mayor. I have invested time, research, and time listening to citizens, staff, professionals and the different potential solutions to the problems we have in search of the best and most responsible fiscal solutions. My overriding goal is to make the Village of Dryden an even better place to live and raise a family.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?One priority is to convert the 194 NYSEG street lights in the Village to LED street lights owned by the Village. New York State Power Authority would help us in the LED system design, the actual conversion and the loan. The energy savings and saving of owning the lights would pay for the conversion in approximately 10 years.
Economic growth is another of my priorities-encouraging both new businesses and new housing. Presently, the village is working with a developer interested in building 74 townhouses for older residents. The same developer wants to build a 54-unit motel and apartments on the large tract of land behind A1 Restaurant.
The third priority is dealing with the predicted increase in rainfall, and the additional storm water created. The increased storm water makes flood mitigation on Egypt Creek very important. The other aspect of the additional rain water is that it will increase the amount of storm water inflow into the village waste water treatment plant, which increases the cost of operating the treatment process and could present other problems. The village needs to control the inflow of storm water and ground water into the sewer treatment plant.
What makes you qualified for this position? My college and graduate education helped develop me into a self-motivated individual, a focused, dedicated, hard worker who is able to adhere to deadlines. The last six years my focus has been on maintaining Dryden Village as a great place to live and raise a family, plus improve it where possible. I have served five years as village board trustee and the last year as your mayor. I have served on the following permanent standing committees: The Personnel Committee, the Finance Committee and the Public Works Committee. I have also served on the Water Committee (new wells and water tanks), Safe Routes to School Committee (new sidewalks and cross walk strobe lights), and Labor Negotiating Committees (DPW and Police).
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?I have enjoyed the benefits of living in the Village of Dryden 41 years. My wife Michele and I raised our three daughters Mary Pat, Ellen and Nancy on Lee Road. I am the type of person who takes his position as mayor very seriously. I am willing to invest the time, to do the research, listen to others, and work hard at seeking the best solution. In order to solve problems, you must solicit from the village staff, village board trustees, community individuals and technical experts for possible solutions. You need to listen to and be open to all possible solutions proposed. I am dedicated to and persistent in working with others to seek the best solution. I have been fortunate to have a dedicated and hard-working Village Board that has been deeply involved in every aspect of the village and especially in problem solving. We have pursued practical, effective solutions that get the most value from your tax dollar. Furthermore, a leader must be proactive in dealing with issues so that they don’t develop into problems.
Tim Arnold, running for Mayor of the Village of Dryden (two year term) on the Republican line against incumbent Michael Murphy.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I’ve been encouraged to run for Mayor for several years now, and I’ve considered it but hesitated because of the time commitment. If elected, I will step down from the Board of Directors of the Dryden Fire Department to fulfill this obligation. When Christine Nash, a committee member of the Dryden Republicans, asked me to step up now, I agreed to take on this responsibility. I want the best for Dryden, and I believe we can bring back prosperity to the village.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?1. To improve our infrastructure as a whole2. To look at ways to improve our financial stability through shared resources, training and time management. 3. To address the concerns the people of the village have expressed about public safety in our business district.
What makes you qualified for this position? I’m qualified for this position because I have lived in, raised my children in, and served in this village for most of my life. I’m qualified because Dryden is my home, and the people here are my family. I take care of my family.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?I want people to know that I am committed to the well-being of Dryden. I have the determination and drive to get things done and done right the first time! I believe that, with the help of Fred Stock and Christine Nash, we can make Dryden a better place to live and work!
Clay Converse, running for Village of Dryden Trustee (two year term) on the Democratic and Protecting Dryden lines.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat? My wife Jane & I moved to Dryden in 1994 when I retired from the US Air Force after 24 years with that service. We originally moved here because Jane had found a job with Girl Scouts in Ithaca, and we were looking for a good community to raise out children. After looking at the local area we settled on the Village of Dryden because of the atmosphere and reputation the community had. We have enjoyed raising our children here, our two youngest graduated from Dryden High School, and our son Andrew continues to live in Dryden. After retiring from my retirement jobs with the Boy Scouts of America & Dunkin Donuts, I am now looking for ways to serve my community and use the skills I have learned over the years. I have been impressed by the efforts of the Village Board under Mayor Mike Murphy to enhance & maintain the quality of life in the village over the last year and hope to use my skills to help them in that effort.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?1. Maintaining the high quality of services now provided by the Village, including among the most professional Police Department, Ambulance Service, and volunteer Fire Departments in the area. Feeling safe in our homes and knowing that if there is a problem those responding will be able to help with professionalism is highly important to all our residents.
2. Promoting economic development. Good paying jobs help both those employed, and provides income to area businesses. The infrastructure improvements of the past few years leave us in a good position to attract new businesses to our village. The improved sewage plant, upgraded water system, and quality public safety services, make our village an attractive place to locate a business.
3. Protecting the quality of life in our village through enhancing our environment, through sensible improvements that save tax dollars and provide recreational & quality of life improvements. We hope to extend the cost savings from LED lighting in our village buildings to our street lamps, while improving safety through better lighting., among other projects.
What makes you qualified for this position?I have a BS degree in Political Science from SUNY Oneonta, with a minor in Economics. My experience with the US Air Force and the Boy Scouts of America has taught me leadership skills and problem solving. One of my Air Force specialties involved managing responses to emergencies, and emergency communications. My Boy Scout background, as a Scout, a Volunteer and 10 years as a professional supporting and training volunteers has taught me to work with a wide variety of people to achieve goals. My time in Dryden as an assistant manager for our local Dunkin Donuts has helped me to understand the challenges of operating a small business in the community, along with getting to know many of our local citizens, and their needs.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?I tend to approach issues from a pragmatic perspective of how I can improve things for all our residents. I believe local government is about solving problems & enhancing the quality of life in our community. We have many residents on fixed incomes, and we need to be sensitive to the costs of any decisions we make: making use of available funds from state and federal government where appropriate. I hope that my experience with emergency services in the Air Force will contribute to maintaining the quality of our emergency services. My time in Scouting has given me a deep appreciation of the need for environmental conservation, so that will be an area I will take a lead in, along with youth recreation programs.
Christine Nash, running for Village of Dryden Trustee (two year term) on the Republican line.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I was motivated to run, because, over the past few years, I’ve seen an increase in the amount of criminal activity in the village. I’ve seen and heard domestic disputes and people clearly inebriated stumbling around Main Street and in the back parking lot. I’ve heard from my neighbors that they would like to see these issues addressed, and I believe that I can help. I see this as a way of continuing to support my neighborhood. I believe it’s my responsibility to improve the quality of life here.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?My top three priorities will be to:1. decrease the criminal activity in the village and make this a safe place to live.2. address the issues my neighbors have told me about regarding the speeding in the village on the side streets. Again, this is a safety issue.3. I would like to see more businesses open in the village and stay here! I’ve seen too many of them leave shortly after setting up shop. They are leaving for various reasons (including criminal activity in the parking lots), and I believe we can change that.
What makes you qualified for this position? I’ve been volunteering in the village since I moved here eight years ago, and I’ve listened to my neighbors’ concerns. I have the experience, education, and work ethic to make Dryden a safe and vibrant place to live and work in again!
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?What people should know about me is that I’m a very hard worker, I’m generous with my time, I care a great deal about the safety and well-being of my neighbors, and I’m dedicated to serving the best interests of the whole village.
Jason Dickinson, incumbent candidate running for Village of Dryden Trustee (two year term) on the Democratic and Protecting Dryden lines.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I really enjoy serving on the Dryden village board. I get to work with the dedicated individuals currently on the Board: Deb Fisher, Dan Wakeman, the departing Tom Sinclair, the Mayor Mike Murphy and great employees of the village. Serving on the Village Board is like attending a college where there are different topics each time: There is research in history and best practices, presentations of where the water comes from and where it goes to, collaborating, legal issues and state requirements. There are times for creativity and opportunities to save taxpayer’s money. It is challenging work and I like it because I feel invigorated by the duty to make my community better.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?Public safety has been my main interest over the past year. I have worked with Officer in Charge Sgt. Josh Tagliavento to get high quality candidates for our police force. I want to continue to have a visible safety-focused force that keep the village’s streets safe from speeders, DUIs and crime. Keep up the good work, DPD. The Neptune Fire Company is an extremely well run and professional organization; they provide a tremendous service to our village and they deserve needed resources and equipment.
The village passed a Planned Urban Development law which allowed the Village Board (not just the planning/zoning board) to work with developers to coordinate their development with the village’s vision of what is best for the village (such as home ownership and pedestrian access to our businesses not just tax revenue, but building a place where people want to live). There is a large development being planned and I expect the Board will be spending considerable time on it.
I have great interest in flood control. Though my house is not in the flood zone, I have seen the damage last summer in Hector, New York. A huge storm washed out a bridge and 90 feet of road. Cars were washed out in Seneca Lake. I am very worried as I see it rain harder and over flow at the banks of our creeks. We need to make sure culverts are clear and flood control devices are maintained. We need to access grants to investigate a long-term plan for 100 year flood.
What makes you qualified for this position? Firstly, I have served as a Trustee on the board over the past year. I have focused on the Public Safety Committee where we have worked on restructuring the police department to reduce cost while ensuring a continuity of police presence in the village.
I am a veteran Special Education Teacher who teaches math at George Junior Republic. Previously, I worked at Dryden Middle School for four years. In addition to a Masters Degree in Special Education, I hold a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Oregon. In college, my focus was on sexual assault prevention and counseling survivors of child sexual abuse. I spent many years as a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Oregon as well. I have consistently coached youth sports for 14 years in Dryden.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?The Dryden Village Board has been extremely productive this year: Green measures such as LED lights, the new Rail Trail project with the town and Lime Bikes. A new electric car charging station at the village hall and the repaving of the municipal parking lot (behind the liquor store) will help downtown. We reduced property taxes for our seniors. We have a new website and reverse 911 that can text or call residents for emergency situations in the village. We are capping the well that had elevated levels of naturally occurring arsenic. There is far more on the list that the village board has done this year and we can continue to make improvements. A Democratic (mostly) Village Board makes positive, visible changes that help this village be better for everyone. Even local elections have consequences so please come and vote because if you don’t choose your officials, someone else will.
Fred Stock, running for Village of Dryden Trustee (two year term) on the Republican line.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I have been encouraged by a number of people to run for local office. My family and I moved here 30 years ago. Dryden is a lovely, friendly community. We have made so many lasting friendships. I’d like to give back to the place that has been so good to me. We are living in a state that has seen 1.1 more people move out of our state than move in in the last 10 years, mostly Upstate NY. We as members of The Dryden Village Board need to do what we can to encourage economic and residential growth and reverse that trend on at least a local level.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?So, what are my priorities? Dryden, real estate costs are considerably lower than Ithaca. Why not use that to our advantage for growth? I would take a supportive stance with our DPW and local police to seek the best ways to serve our citizens and business community. And yes, I’m concerned about Main St. Thirdly, find smart, cost-effective ways to manage our infrastructure.
What makes you qualified for this position? What do you want people to know about you as a candidate? What qualifies me is my ability to listen to people gather information on an issue. Seeking the knowledge and experience of others; throwing away pride and taking an open minded approach; both are very important to me. I’m retired from a successful sales career and have the time that it will take.
Village of Cayuga Heights
Jennifer Biloski, incumbent candidate running for Village of Cayuga Heights Trustee (two year term) on the New Heights line.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat? I am currently running for my third term as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Village Trustee and being a resident of the Village of Cayuga Heights. My husband and I moved to Cayuga Heights from New York City in 2001 to raise a family. All three of our boys attended Cayuga Heights Elementary School, where I served as PTA President for two years. While I no longer have children in the elementary school, I still want to be active within the Village in a meaningful way. As a taxpayer, it is important to me to know how our money is being spent and that the Village is acting in a fiscally responsible manner. If elected, what will be your top three priorities? One of the projects that I have been working on is the codification of the Village’s existing legislation. This has been a long-term project initiated in August 2016. After much time reviewing existing legislation, we expect to introduce a new Code in the near future that brings conformity and organization to Village law.
Replacement and upgrades to aging infrastructure is also top priority. The Waste Water Treatment Plant on East Shore Drive serves not only our Village, but also the Town and Village of Lansing and parts of the Towns of Ithaca and Dryden. The plant is over 40 years old and is showing signs of aging.
Upgrading the facility and parts replacement is a top priority, for which the Village has applied for grants to offset costs.
Lastly, the changing over of Village street lights to LED lighting is my final priority. The Village has the opportunity to buy back its street lights from NYSEG and replace them with LED lights. The benefit of LED lights is that they last longer, require less maintenance and are more energy-efficient, which creates cost savings in the long-term. Additionally, since the Village would then own the street lights, we wouldn’t have to wait for NYSEG to repair a light that is out, which can easily take months. What makes you qualified for this position? I currently serve as Deputy Treasurer for the Village of Cayuga Heights. In my position, I am a member of the finance committee in which I regularly review and reconcile Village financial statements, monthly billing, and department budgets and expenditures. My background is in finance, having retired from Thomson Financial in Manhattan as Associate Director of the Asia-Pacific Consulting Group in 2003 and holding a degree from The London School of Economics.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate? I have been an active member of the Ithaca community since moving here in 2001. I additionally serve on the boards of the Paleontological Research Institute and the Ithaca Public Education Initiative. I have also served as PTA President of Cayuga Heights Elementary School, sat on the PTA Council as second Vice President, and volunteered on the boards of Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca and the former Ithaca Music Academy.
Richard Robinson, incumbent candidate running for Village of Cayuga Heights Trustee (two year term) on the New Heights line.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat?I am seeking my fourth term as Village Trustee to continue my involvement in the community and offer my services and expertise to the Village governing board. My past involvement has been personally rewarding both in interacting with the Village residents and in moving the Village forward in providing essential services in a safe and welcoming environment. If re-elected, I look forward to continuing to work on projects initiated during my tenure.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities?Repair and replacement of the aging infrastructure in the Village, including the water and sewage systems, is a high priority. The Village sewage treatment plant, mainly invisible to most residents, is currently in need of upgrading and re-engineering. This Spring, the Village will begin a $10M+ multi-part renovation and construction project at the plant. Our roads and sidewalks require continuing maintenance with continued rising costs of repair and replacement. The increased storm intensity and frequency over the past several years has overwhelmed our storm water management/drainage systems, requiring constant attention. Keeping up with maintenance and improvements to these infrastructure systems is taxing the Village finances and requires careful planning and balancing of resources.
Traffic congestion at the Community Corners area including the intersection at Hanshaw/Triphammer Roads and Hanshaw/Pleasant Grove Roads is a key priority. The new Cayuga Medical Center Office building at Community Corners coming on-line this month and Cornell adding 2,000 more beds in three new buildings on North Campus will add to an already problematic situation. The Village has just contracted with a traffic consultant to offer options to help alleviate this congestion.
A third priority is looking for creative ways to stabilize or reduce costs and ways to enhance or maintain the current revenue streams without relying upon taxes to make up any shortfall. We are currently looking at converting the Village streetlighting to LED bulbs as one example of long-term cost savings.
What makes you qualified for this position?My lifetime training and work experience has provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to positively contribute to Village governance. I fully retired from Cornell in 2018, after 35 plus years. During that time, I served in several management roles at the university. These included oversight of unit operations in finance, budget, accounting, information technologies, human resources, facilities operations and capital project management. For the past six years, I have served as Village Trustee, chairing the Public Works Committee, and as a member of the Finance and IT committees.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?I have lived in Tompkins County since 1981, relocating to the area after receiving MBA and MPH degrees from Columbia University. While a resident of Tompkins County, I have served in several community organizations. I was involved with the Tompkins Health Planning Council, serving as treasurer and board president. I have been a board member of the Tompkins County Human Services Coalition, the Ithaca Child Care Center and Temple Beth-El. I am a 22-year resident of Cayuga Heights having moved into the Village with my family in 1997. My children attended Ithaca Schools and Cornell and have relocated, allowing my wife and I to rediscover each other.
Peter Salton, incumbent candidate running for Village of Cayuga Heights Trustee (two year term) on the New Heights line.
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat? I’ve been on the board for about 13 years. To be honest, I think the first couple of terms that you do it are a learning curve. You kind of have to learn how to be a legislator, if you will. It’s hard to be able to hit the ground running with the issues that a municipality has and to understand the financial and other ramifications of decisions. So, that’s why I’m running again [to further projects that have already been started].
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? I think the top priority for me is – not the board but certainly for me on the board – is sensible, mixed-use development at Community Corners. I think the next morph of that area could include residential development as well.
Priority number two is, as always, to keep our infrastructure in good working order. We do have a sewer plant that we are in the process of refurbishing and repairing and there are an awful lot of things that need to be done to maintain a sewage treatment plan, some of which were deferred for quite a while so now we are in the process of trying to get some grants, trying to bond, and we have hired an engineering firm to look into different aspects of the renovation of that plant. And then overlying that is the continual problem of the infrastructure that goes into a sewer plant needs to be maintained.
I think that we have to get along better with the other municipalities, or we need to see synergies with the other municipalities. There is this whole intermunicipal cooperation that’s been a big thing with Governor Cuomo and they’re keeping score on it in Albany, how intermunicipal cooperation works or doesn’t work, or how affective we are, have we done everything we can to realize economies and that is something that we always have to be vigilant of and careful of. We need to see what the priorities are in Albany and we need to pay attention to that and to be ever communicative with them about what it is we’re doing to help that process.
What makes you qualified for this position?I’ve lived in Tompkins County for almost my whole life. I’m an attorney, I understand laws and lawmaking quite well. I think I’m pretty passionate in my positions about things.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate? Well, they should know that I’m very conscientious of, and try to, transmit and implement what the constituents want. There is somewhat of an overlay of what people want and what we know they want. Cayuga Heights is a 1.8 square mile rectangle so we’re not too big. It’s hard sometimes to get people to come to these meetings, and it’s hard for us to know what they want, so we have to substitute our judgement. So, you can be sure that I would conscientiously do that and if I had to, and if somebody asked me a question, I’m prepared to answer it. I just want to be able to give back. That’s why I have a very strong public service instinct and desire to help people. It’s part of the way I practice law as well. I handle people, not things, when I practice law.
Village of Freeville
Incumbent Jason Cuykendall, running for Village of Freeville Trustee (two year term).
What motivated you to run (or run again) for this seat? My motivation to run again is just to continue to serve my Freeville neighbors.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? I’m always watching the numbers, so my top priority is always wise budget choices. I also highly value the maintenance of our Village resources (Property, Parks, Sewer Facility) and investing in them now to avoid higher bills or possible loss later. Finally, communication with residents in all forms (in the post office, on my porch, over the listserv, at a meeting) only makes this village better. I always want to know what residents are thinking.
What makes you qualified for this position?I’ve served on the Village Planning Board first, and the Board of Trustees now for many years. I am very familiar with the Village’s processes.
What do you want people to know about you as a candidate?I’m not a politician just a neighbor. While I’ve met most of the residents, if I haven’t met you yet please stop by or drop me a line. We are a small village and are so lucky to have so many great residents that get involved to help make Freeville a great place to live.
Incumbent candidate Lotte Carpenter will also be on the ballot in Freeville running for another term. Carpenter did not return Tompkins Weekly’s Q&A in time for print.
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