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November 6, 2013 - 1:36am
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, politics, city council, Elections.

It was a clean sweep for the GOP in Batavia's race to fill three at-large seats on the City Council in a year when the party was facing a new challenge from local Libertarians for the first time.

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Brooks Hawley and John Deleo easily secured four-year terms on the council.

Libertarians Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead finished eighth and ninth in the crowded field.

Hawley, the lone incumbent among the winners, got 1,179 votes, according to the still unofficial tally.

"We visited almost every street and home in Batavia,” Hawley said. “People saw how dedicated we are and they believe we will use that dedication in City Council as well.”

Hard work was part of the GOP strategy this year, said city Chair Matt Landers, who acknowledged the Libertarian presence on the ballot and the fact the new local party was out working hard helped motivate the Republicans.

“They were working very hard and they are an upstart group with a passionate base and we definitely took them seriously,” Landers said.

Rosenbeck received 358 votes and Whitehead 243 votes. 

The low vote totals didn't discourage party Chairman Phil Ricci at all, who told the party members at their election headquarters at Larry's Steakhouse that Rosenbeck would become the committee chairman of the party's new city committee.

“We started with a small group of concerned, like-minded citizens, set with the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties,” Ricci said. “That little ragtag group grew into a solid core group of committed individuals who felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go.”

Jankowski, a former Batavia PD lieutenant, said after a hard-fought campaign, he's ready to get to work, serving his community in a new capacity.

"We work well together, people respect us and they want us to be their leaders in the community," said Jankowski, who received 1,269 votes.

Deleo, who garnered 1,309 votes, said the three winners will make a good team going forward, just as they did as campaign mates.

“We all have our own strengths and together it works for the best,” Deleo said.

Rosenbeck remained upbeat about the Libertarian effort.

“It has been a success and we wish the GOP well,” Rosenbeck said.

Rounding out the field were Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum, 586 votes, Thomas Clark, 552 votes, John Demske, 631 votes, and Rose Mary Christian, 406 votes.

Katenbaum, a Batavia native who moved away for many years and then returned to her hometown vowed to stay involved in her community.

 “I sit on a couple boards, Go-Art and Landmark Society, and I will continue working for the citizens of Batavia,” Kastenbaum said. “As a citizen I can be as active as I choose to be and I hope to be.”

For complete election results visit WBTA.com.

Top Photo (by Howard Owens): Phil Ricci speaks to Libertarian Party members.

John Deleo, Joe Gerace and John Roach watch the election results get posted at the GOP headquarters for the night at City Slickers (photo by Howard Owens).

October 29, 2013 - 5:38pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Republican, Brooks Hawley.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

Any street is a problem where people are involved in activities that break the law. This problem deals with a socioeconomic impact. The city police department needs to continue to work with the residents and landlords to attack this situation. Residents should be helping by calling 911 if they see any suspicious activity and not send complaints to their landlords or neighbors. If any resident would like to meet with the police department, they would be glad to work with the public.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I favor city code officers and firefighters to be out on the streets doing surveillance of houses to make sure that the neighborhoods are being maintained. It is also the responsibility of the landlord to keep their properties up to code in the City of Batavia.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

Just the way it is. Garbage tax was removed from the city taxes. People now have a choice on who they want to do business with. ARC still has 80% of the business in the city. Now that ARC is not the sole provider for garbage collection, this has provided growth for other businesses. We have had one or two new garbage collection companies form since the change.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

To create and encourage investment in the city’s commercial and industrial areas. Provide direction and momentum to businesses that are interested in investing in the community. Maintain a business and investment friendly atmosphere to encourage economic development.

If the choice came down to either  A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

I am very supportive of our local police and fire departments. I feel that it is important to keep them intact. As long as they are providing a service that is adequate and meets the needs of the residents of Batavia at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

The administration needs to be more people-friendly and more available to the community. They could offer interviews with the media to improve open communication. "City manager and head of the departments." I would also like to have meetings in each district for city council to meet and hear the concerns of the residents of Batavia.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

Experienced, I have been in office for two years. Reliable, you can count on me. Open minded, willing to hear new and interesting ideas. Good listener, I feel that this is very important when a person holds a public position.

October 29, 2013 - 5:31pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Rose Mary Christian, For The People.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

Yes those two streets have problems. The landlords should have the powers to evict tenants that are causing the problems. The neighborhood should be vigilant to what is happening and contact our police department right away. People do not need to give a name if, they do it can stay confidential.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I believe our inspection department handles complaints all the time and do a great job by enforcement with these properties. I believe the tenant and the landlord should have to appear in court if the situation does not change.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

I think the garbage deal is totally over and people should move on. I have received but two complaints and that is because, the collector has not covered the back of the truck.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

I feel as if our city has applied for many grants and economic development has done a great job. I look forward to the Carr’s building being renovated; it’s been long over do. We certainly need more industry and business in the downtown area.

If the choice came down to either A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

This is really a tough question because; many factors are to be considered. Safety and cost, location are the major factors. I don’t want an increase in taxes and location would be another factor, cost to the property owners would possibly be another burden on them. Consolidating the police and fire department with volunteer could be an option but safety factors would really have to be considered. What would the cost savings really be?

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

All city employees should live in the city. (Other cities make their employees live in the city that pay their salaries, give them benefits, pensions and retirement). City taxes, school and county would decrease if all employees live in the city.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I have had many people call me for assistance but I could only give the name of the person from that ward to help them. If elected I would be able to help them right away. I serve the sixth ward now and love it. I tell it the way it is and, not sugar coat it. May God bless America.

October 29, 2013 - 5:20pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Democrat, Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

Every citizen in this community should be able to feel safe and walk down any street, anytime of the day or night. I live across Centennial Park and have noticed police responding to calls on State Street, so I am one of those city residents who feel that it is a problem area. I am thankful that we have a police force just blocks from there that can respond quickly to the calls. If the situation continues to deteriorate on some of our city streets, then I think whatever our status quo in dealing with it has to change. Could it be we do not have enough law enforcement officers on any given shift? Should we hire more? Would that help? Are these drug-related crimes? Does our police force have an open communication with drug enforcement officers and do they share information and get them involved when necessary? Not to put the onus solely on the police, because I believe it takes a community united against crime to fight crime. Would it be helpful to form active Neighborhood Watch groups in the community? A community can be very powerful when its citizens stand up and have a "no tolerance" policy towards drug trafficking. It means that if you see something suspicious, you say something and not look the other way.

I was born and raised in Batavia and my family has lived here for generations. I have also lived in both New York City and Los Angeles. When my husband and I were first married we lived in East Hollywood in LA, which had some very dangerous neighborhoods especially with drugs and gangs. I was part of our Neighborhood Watch. There was one gang that held a reign of terror over a block near mine. Walking in that neighborhood was not safe; however, we did have neighborhood watch patrols and walked the streets in large groups. Our presence was met with actual threats of our death if we continued. Between the police and the neighborhood we could not gain control of the block where one building was housing gang members who were trafficking. Thinking out-of-the-box, the neighborhood decided to enlist the help of a huge law firm in LA to do pro bono work to help them clean up this one building. What the neighbors did was sue in Small Claims Court, the landlord of the building for failing to keep gang members from overrunning the building. An LA Superior Court judge ordered the landlord to pay the neighbors $2,000 each in damages because he refused to ward off gang members who gathered at his apartment building. It was California’s first nuisance and negligence complaint filed against a landlord to rid his property of such problems.

I’m not suggesting we follow suit or that Batavia is anywhere near that level of crime, but if the problems on those streets are becoming the norm and not getting resolved, then we need to take a serious look at what is the cause and maybe a different remedy or approach to how we tackle the issues on those streets. I would also like to reiterate that I don’t believe it is necessarily up to the police, or Council to find a remedy, but as residents in our community we should all be concerned.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

Clearly, if there are codes on the books regarding problem properties they should be enforced. Maybe the housing code in the city needs a fresh look? Have the zoning codes been enforced? Are there multi-dwelling units in neighborhoods that are zoned for only single family dwellings? Are landlords, particularly those who get HUD subsidies, have a good relationship with their tenants and are responsive to them when problems occur?

I was amazed to learn that over 50% of our residences are rentals. When a city reaches and goes beyond that 50% mark, it does not bode well for a community. I am all for free enterprise and I certainly don’t necessarily believe in obstructing it in any way, but there does come a tipping point. I don’t know when it will be, but we have to ask ourselves some serious questions before it happens: (1) do we want Batavia to become a more transient city?; and (2) as our population ages, more of the beautiful old homes our parents and grandparents have lived in are sold and often times chopped up and made into rentals; so therefore, what can we do to help people stay in their homes and how do we encourage home ownership for others?

At our "Farm to Table" dinner in September, the Democrats hosted New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He talked about Land Banks which would offer funding for "foreclosure relief and housing program" and "community blight remediation". So often people think this type of funding from the State comes from our high taxes. Well not this time. The monies will come from a portion of the funds awarded to New York under the National Mortgage Settlement. The funds come from the $25 billion settlement the banks had to pay out last year to help struggling homeowners as a result of their contribution to the collapse of the housing market. Eight Land Banks will be set up and a community needs to submit an application to be awarded one. There are two rounds of funding that will happen. The first deadline has already passed for communities wishing to establish Land Banks in their community for funding. The next deadline is for the second and final round of funding which will be announced in July 2014. If Batavia has not submitted an application in the first round, I certainly think we should submit one in the second.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

Unfortunately, City Council has decided to get out of the garbage collection business and turn it over to private enterprise. I’m not sure that was a wise decision as currently there are garbage bags seven days a week at any given time, on any given street, waiting to be collected. That being said, I don’t know how you turn that ship around once it has sailed without some legal ramifications. I think we have to work with the existing situation. There is at least one company I know of, that started a new business to serve the community and have invested their hard work and money into making it happen. I certainly would not want that company, or any other small business, to lose their market because we did a reversal on this issue. Therefore, I believe we must play the hand we were dealt.

Garbage should be collected, like it is in most cities, Monday through Friday. No garbage collection should be on the weekend and no garbage should be allowed out on the weekend. Since Council initiated this, they should get the companies together and devise a plan which streets get their garbage collected on which day. For example, streets in Ward 1 might have their collection day on Monday, Ward 2 could be Tuesday, Wards 3 and 4 on Wednesday, Ward 5 Thursday, Ward 6 Friday. Of course, there will be several companies collecting garbage in the same area on the same day, but it is better than the alternative now which is a street having garbage continuously out depending on when the company decides what day it gets picked up on. At some point, it has to be about our quality of life (and that means aesthetically too). Batavia is a lovely city and our streets should not be looking like one continuous trash receptacle.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

I think the city should more aggressively try and utilize the resource we have in our area of the GCEDC (Genesee County Economic and Development Center). Batavia is not only a town, but a city as well. The GCEDC has done a wonderful job of getting businesses to come into the town. However, it is time for some of that energy to flow to the city of Batavia. I find it very exciting to see the city has focused in on a strategic site plan for various corridors of the city that have underutilized and vacant buildings. The plan is that by identifying and building out these areas, new businesses will come into the city. I hope the GCEDC is working closely with the City to see that this plan is realized.

I do think the city should get involved with the one area which was not in those four sites though. It really is the elephant in the room. We have an entire block or two of our Main Street with very little retail businesses existing and yet the physical buildings on the street already exist – no need to rebuild. And yet no one discusses it. Is this not our Main Street? Did we sell it off only to lay vacant and be the empty hole that is preventing our Main Street from being a thriving downtown? Why did we do that? I give kudos to BID for doing what they can to bring feet downtown, but with vacant buildings on a major part of our Main Street it is an uphill battle for them. Yes, I do think the city needs to step in and not only take a role in bringing businesses to downtown, but I believe they have a responsibility as representatives of the people of Batavia to serve the community – especially when it comes to our Main Street!

If the choice came down to either A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

I am absolutely against a volunteer fire department in the city of Batavia. Maybe there are cities of this size that have volunteer fire departments, but I think our population certainly warrants a paid fire department. If left with the two choices of consolidation or raising taxes to maintain our own police and fire department, then I would have to say I would be against consolidation. I want the police and fire departments to have a visible presence by their location within the city limits and central to the city. While walking Ward 1, I spoke with a resident who told me a few years ago they had a home invasion. The response time by the police was immediate. He told me that it would not have been the case had the police been located outside the city limits. He also said he would gladly pay for that immediacy to make sure his family was protected and secure. I think if the residents of the city were asked, the majority would tell you they do not want any consolidation and they would support a police and fire department within the city.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

Listen, I know full well that serving in public office can be a thankless task sometimes. There are always detractors and naysayers, but I do believe that it is not fair to sit in judgment of people unless you too have walked in their shoes. Therefore, I will not comment on how satisfied I am with how the city is run because I haven’t been in Council’s position. No matter what Council is in office, there will always be a need to improve - it’s human nature to strive for perfection and yet we know we will never achieve it. But that’s what keeps the journey fresh and interesting – that striving to do what is good and right for the community.

It all comes back to one thing – are we serving the community and its citizens? To know that, we have to ask ourselves "what kind of a community are we?". If I were to change one thing, it would be to get back to asking this question to the community. I see in Vibrant Batavia, Council trying to do that, so we are on some parallel thought here.

But let me be more specific. I would like to have every Ward leader, along with the three Council-at-Large leaders go to each Ward in the form of a Town Hall and ask that question to the community. It’s time for Council to get back into the community instead of asking the community to come to them. It’s time we have a dialogue with our friends and neighbors about who we are and how we want to be perceived, about our goals and aspirations for ourselves and our children we raise in this community. It can’t be all about approving and spending on the next consultant study, or determining what sidewalks to pave, or what snow blower to purchase. It has to be about the tough questions, the deeper questions, the more meaningful questions that we face as citizens and residents of our City of Batavia. I know it sounds like a very esoteric discussion, but it is a necessary one. It has to start somewhere and so many people have so much they want to say, but feel that once they cast their vote their job is done as the contact is rare after that.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I bought a home here in 2004 with the intention of someday moving back to my hometown. Last year I finally returned and moved my husband, my daughter, and our dog and cat. After being away for so long, it was good to "come home". I vowed that when I returned I would be active in the community and get involved in service. I immediately got on two boards: Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GOART!) and the Landmark Society of Genesee County. I also wanted to get involved in local politics and serve in some capacity, hence my running for Council-at-Large.

I know many people don’t know me or are getting reacquainted with me since I lived here many years ago. However, I never really went too far. You see, every vacation my family had, we never went on exotic trips to Europe or visits to the Grand Canyon (never saw it), or other venues. We came home to Batavia. We came home to Creek Road to stay with my parents for several weeks in the summer and holidays during the year. I came home every year for 40 years. So what does that say about Batavia? It must be pretty special.

What is my reason for running for City Council? It is purely selfish – I want to serve.

Why should people vote for me? You should only vote for me if you believe in me and that I have a vision for our community, and together, with your help, we can make it a reality.

October 29, 2013 - 5:14pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Republican, Eugene Jankowski Jr.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

The majority of Jackson and State streets contain well-kept homes, businesses and Law abiding residents.  However, there are a few areas that need to be addressed. When these types of problems have occurred in the past the Police Department would take the lead and coordinate the response  As a Police Lieutenant I've participated in a multiple agency response to this type of problem on many occasions, coordinating with, State Police, Sheriff, Code Enforcement, HUD, Social Services, Probation, Parole, and landlords etc. to resolve the problem. Something similar should be happening now to remedy the problem.  I can personally attest to its effectiveness. As a member of City Council I will use my experience to help City departments obtain the resources and cooperation they need to continue to protect the residents of Batavia at the level they expect.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

My experience as a Police Lieutenant has taught me that code enforcement works best when it's part of a multi-faceted team approach. Code enforcement is also more effective when consistent and fair for all properties in the City and not just used on a "seemingly problem property". This method can prevent these problems from springing up in the first place. Those responsible for managing the Batavia code enforcement should be held to this standard by City Council.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

I have heard complaints from residents who live on streets that have multiple days of garbage pickup during the week. In response I think the garbage pickup cycle should be discussed and possibly limited to certain streets on certain days only. It was that way in the past when the ARC handled the garbage pickup and I believe it will be better for the neighborhoods.

On another note, a downtown merchant complained that approximately half the City garbage cans on Main St. were ordered removed because the ARC is no longer contracted by the City to empty them. This duty was passed on to the already understaffed public works dept. so it appears the garbage cans may have been removed to make the extra workload more manageable. The concern is that the absence of garbage cans may contribute to more litter in the downtown area. One merchant told me that he already found a pile of debris on the sidewalk where a garbage can once stood. This should be monitored and addressed if need be.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

There is a finite amount of land available for big industry in the City and the majority of Batavia’s economy is generated by small businesses. The activity generated when industry is brought into the Genesee County area translates into more opportunities for the small businesses. I believe this is where our focus should be.

I have noticed that there appears to be an overlap between duties performed by BID, Genesee County EDC, City Staff and Vibrant Batavia. I've been requested to have this discussed and streamlined. I agree. If the County EDC and BID can handle the workload I see an opportunity to save resources and or tax dollars.

On another note, why is taxpayer money being used to fund Vibrant Batavia in the first place? Is this appropriate use of taxpayer monies? How and who appointed the members of the Vibrant Batavia Committee? As a member of City Council I'd like to look into this and find the answers to these questions.  I could be wrong but my instinct tells me something isn't right with this.

If the choice came down to either  A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

My choice would be “A” if necessary. The many people I've talked with during my campaign have made it very clear to me that public safety is a number one priority. I will represent them as promised and do everything possible to provide a valued service in proportion to the money spent. I agree that these are important services. Taxpayers want their Police Department to remain intact and centrally located, preferably downtown. In certain areas of Batavia there is the potential for fire to spread quickly from building to building. I've personally witnessed the quick response of the Fire Department minimize damage and save lives. Both are valuable resources and should be maintained at the proper levels to remain effective.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

The City is functioning but I think there can be improvement. Taxpayers want City council to take the lead role and be more involved in managing the City. I agree. The voters have elected City Council to represent them with that expectation and want Council to do their job.  

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I will bring leadership and valuable resources to the City Council. I have a vast knowledge of the people, as well as the unique neighborhoods that make up this City. These resources will help City Council be more informed before making important decisions. Working together with other members of City Council I believe we can get Batavia back on track to the success we've enjoyed in the past.

October 29, 2013 - 5:04pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, libertarian, James Rosenbeck.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

Yes, I do consider sections of Jackson Street and State Street problematic. Safe neighborhoods are a crucial priority for our city. I would add that there are other streets in the city that are also cause for concern. I support the use of regular police partner foot patrols in the most troubled neighborhoods. Given that we pay Genesee County taxes in addition to our city taxes, we should seek and utilize support from the Genesee County Sheriff's Department also.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I don't accept the premise that we should have different levels of code enforcement. If a property owner is in violation of city code, he/she should be afforded reasonable notice to rectify the violation or be cited as per the code.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

It is clear to me at this point  that the city does not need to be in the trash collection business or involved in any service that can be provided for effectively and efficiently by the private sector. Certainly, the city shouldn't be providing trash totes with tracking chips to local residents. Let's leave the trash tote business to the stores that sell them. Furthermore, I never quite understood how our cost for the use of a trash collection service should be connected to our property assessments.

Why should those owning homes of a higher assessed value be forced to subsidize the cost of garbage collection for those homeowners with lower assessments? Lets keep in mind that many of those higher valued homes, paying the biggest portion are our senior citizens living on fixed incomes. When the city taxpayer picks up the tab for trash removal we create a dis-incentive to recycling and subtly encourage less responsible management of solid waste. All that being said, my wife and I chose to remain customers of ARC. But, it was our choice. We believe in the mission of the agency. Choice improved the existing system and allowed people to tailor trash removal according to their specific needs.

I don't agree with the rhetoric about too many trucks on the streets and garbage piling up all over the city. The change in trash collection has promoted new businesses and employment opportunities. Competition and choice should be welcomed. Council candidates promising a return to a city run mandated trash service have neglected the reality that this would require voiding all of the private trash removal contracts currently in effect with local providers. Furthermore, those candidates should recognize and publicly acknowledge that they are running on a platform that if realized would likely put new trash service providers out of business.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

I do not support economic development corporations. Providing tax breaks and incentives for some while excluding others seems patently unfair. Growing bureaucracy in order to counteract the negative tax effects of an already too large and intrusive government seems counter intuitive. Whenever we as citizens give an unregulated EDC the power to grant financial favors we encourage cronyism and pay to play political patronage.

If the choice came down to either  A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

One need only look around the city and county to realize that we have far too many government owned buildings and too much duplication of services.The vision for the future has to be SHARED SERVICES. We do not have the luxury of raising taxes. Our city, surrounding towns and villages and the county of Genesee need to work cooperatively to share the expense for those services that are  important to our safety and well being. If I must choose, I choose option B.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

I believe that every single member of city council genuinely cares about our city. I don't feel they have all taken the opportunity to regularly communicate with voters and develop a shared vision for our future. City Council should be providing a vision, one crafted with direct input from the people. Our city manager's job is to provide the guidance and expertise to turn our shared vision into a plan for action. My observation in regularly attending council meetings is that too often the vision and direction is coming from the city manager to the council. We need more transparency and trust and less top down management at city hall.

Why did you decide to run for City Council?

I decided to run for City Council because I believe that we need new ideas on City Council. I don't profess that I have all the answers but I won't be afraid to ask questions. I bring a new libertarian perspective that isn't always shared by my democrat and republican friends.  But debate on the issues is healthy. I intend to offer people a responsive, transparent voice on city government. I am not a lifelong politician and I don't intend to become one. I run for City Council to be of service to a city I love, not for my own greater glory. I would appreciate your vote of support on November 5th and beyond.

October 29, 2013 - 4:58pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Republican, John Deleo.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

When there have been shots fired, then you have to consider them problem areas. But as you know, they are not the only  neighborhoods with problems. Our police force is not really all that large, about 35 people. Some of them are administrative such as the Chief, so I would be willing to allow overtime to add additional coverage until we apprehend whoever fired the shots.

I have also personally gone to and asked Council to look into having the Genesee County Sheriff provide some patrol time to the City. We pay County taxes and should get something for them.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I think the level of code enforcement we have now is sufficient. The City is trying to be fair with landlords, homeowners and renters. They are trying to not be too heavy-handed or too lenient, which is not easy. 

The City is also looking for grants to help property owners make repairs and improvements. In addition, there is a program to help turn multiple unit homes back into single family, owner occupied homes which in the long run will make a significant difference. This could be done faster, however, that would mean hiring more City employees. That is something I do not want to do.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

I kept ARC for my trash provider because I like the service, the cost meets my needs and I like their mission. But I do not feel I have the right to tell you or anyone else who you have to hire or how much you have to pay. The only way to legally return to ARC would be to put trash pickup out to bid. If ARC lost the bid, they would be out of the trash business in the City and I do not want that to happen.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

We should continue to do what we are doing now, which is to provide assistance to businesses trying to come into the City or to stay in the City, be the information clearing house and provide any advice we can.  We should look for grants from the State and Federal government that are out there (it is our money after all) to help develop infrastructure such as sewers, water lines, street paving and sidewalk repair.

If the choice came down to either  A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

I would support keeping our own police and fire departments. With the recent crime problems in some parts of the City, this is no time to rely on only the Sheriff. Who knows what may happen in the future, but right now, today I want to keep our own.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

No, I am not happy with the way things have been run, not at all. If elected, there will be a change. Too often it has seemed that not all the information Council has needed or wanted was provided. In one recent case, it was not provided until just before a Council meeting. Too often the public is not given all the details of recommended spending. This is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I have been involved with City government for a few years now and want to do more. I had been regularly attending Council meetings for years and then was selected to serve on the 2010 City Charter Commission. I currently serve on the Batavia City Planning Board. I thought it was time for me to step up and do more. I now have the time, experience and ideas to help move the City of Batavia forward.

October 29, 2013 - 4:52pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Democrat, John Demske.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

From the reports I hear from the media, it appears that that area of the city has growing drug and crime problem. Two things should happen, one is there has to be increase police presence in these areas. Increase patrols and investigations of potential drug trafficking. Second, is that law enforcement needs to develop cooperation among the neighbors in the targeted problem city areas. Without this cooperation, these problems cannot be solved.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

Since I am not knowledgeable of the building codes that are already on the books, I would say that the current codes need to be strictly enforced. That being said, there needs to be a constant review of building codes to make sure they deal with current business and property demands.  

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

Since the garbage change has already taken place, we need to make sure that all property owners are being responsible about their handling of their trash disposal. Either having an arrangement with a trash contractor or taking their trash to the proper disposal areas.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

The city needs to cultivate the right business climate to encourage business projects and expansion. By doing so, this in itself will increase the jobs these businesses create. The city also needs to always improve its infrastructure that encourages business growth and enables its citizens access to these new business sites.

If the choice came down to either  A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

This question already assumes that taxes need to be raised to maintain our current police and fire departments. Much of the increase costs involving these two departments has to do with circumstances beyond these departments control. When your retirement costs has to be made up because of the 2008 downturn, these costs present a tremendous burden on holding down taxes. My personal opinion is that it is very important to maintain our city police and fire departments to guarantee the proper public safety we need to attract business growth.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

For the most part I feel the city is doing a satisfactory job. I do think that some decisions were made without a proper investigation(i.e., trash collection) of the possible outcomes. While it is always city councils responsibility to make decisions about existing problems, it needs to make sure that all investigations take place before finalizing council recommendations.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

Since I moved here in 2006 (former Genesee County NH Administrator), my wife and I have really adopted Batavia as our home. We enjoy the walkability and closeness of businesses in this city. Since I retired, I would like to give back to the community with my time and experience dealing with government operations(24 years with 5 county governments). I believe that I have the people skills necessary to bring the cooperation needed to make informed and common sense decisions. I would hope that people can trust me to do the right thing as councilman at large for the city of Batavia.

October 29, 2013 - 4:40pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, libertarian, Lisa Whitehead.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

I’m sure that the dedicated officers of the Batavia Police Department are aware of problems in these areas and are doing all that can be legally done. As a council person, I would support an increased police presence (city and county) and any other efforts as long as they are good for the community at large.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I don’t see it as a code issue but more of a pride issue. If the resident is owner of the property, we need to find out why they are not keeping up with their property. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that need to be addressed. Educating them on programs that are available through the city, county and state that would help them financially or through volunteerism to upgrade their residence is the answer. If the problem property is a rental, it needs to be considered a business and as such must comply with public safety codes. If the owner refuses to bring their property up the appropriate safety codes, that business must be closed. No business should put its customers needlessly in harm’s way. As far as non-safety codes, we need to find a way to enforce these evenly throughout the city. For example, we should not cite one landlord for long grass and completely ignore others with the same issue.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

I have always said that I was okay with Batavia getting out of the trash business and as far as I can tell trash collection is being handled efficiently and effectively. What I was not happy with was the way that the trash collection issue was presented to our community. It was as if city government was trying to force us to accept their solution without giving us the opportunity to examine it. Then there was all the talk of mass piles of garbage in the city – obviously just scare tactics. These are the same tactics used by State and Federal lawmakers when they want to pass legislation that may not be well thought out.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

The city’s role should be to lower property taxes to make city structures appealing to potential new businesses and look for ways to reduce other impediments to business. One area where we may be able to make improvements would be in the building code. There may be items in those codes that are outdated and may be removed.

If the choice came down to either A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

Consolidating government resources is a proven way to reduce taxes and improve services. As a Council person, I would have to carefully consider any consolidation proposal to ensure that it is in the best interests of the community at large.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

I think we can always do better. We strive to make every aspect of our lives better for ourselves and our children. Why not city government? The one thing I would change in city government is I would make it a requirement that each ward representative have a "Town Hall" type meeting twice a year within their wards to see what their constituents are really concerned about. Also, have the At-Large representatives be required to attend one meeting in each ward. Residents need to know that the vote they cast in November elected someone who will listen to what they have to say, not just for someone who assumes to know what they believe.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I have decided to run for City Council at Large for a couple of reasons. First, I have never liked it when someone complains about something and isn’t willing to speak up for the issues that bother them. I have grumbled about things going on in the city for a while and now I am willing to say that I think I can help this city. Second, I think we need people on council that will ask the questions needed to find out if there are other ways to solve our issues. I don’t want to cast a no vote for the sake of saying no. We really need to think about how to help our residents and the city itself. I have lived in Batavia for 15 years and even though I didn’t grow up here, Batavia is my children’s home and my home.

October 29, 2013 - 4:31pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in city council, Democrat, Tom Clark.

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them? 

The Batavia Police Department is working to apprehend those responsible for criminal acts and, I believe, made at least one arrest. Increased patrols would act as a deterrent to some degree. However, to make these neighborhoods safer the citizens in both of those areas need to be proactive for their own protection in reporting potential criminal activity. Encouraging a Neighborhood Watch might help in that respect. In the long term, working to increase family home ownership would help to turn the area around. Homeowners tend to take a strong interest in what happens around them. Finding programs that help increase home ownership citywide should be a priority. I would like to note that those who seem to favor eliminating our Police Department as a cost saving measure may well be working to create a situation where things could get worse rather than better. 

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties? 

Houses, privately owned or rentals, need to be kept in livable condition. Code enforcement should work to that end. The City should work with individual homeowners to correct problems whenever possible. Landlords who are making a good faith effort should receive appropriate support from the City. There needs to be a process developed to more quickly move abandoned or foreclosed properties back into the housing market. If a house is deemed unlivable and beyond repair it needs to torn down. The process needs to adhere to the law as it applies.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

The recent change from city controlled collection to the individual property owners selecting a service has created a visual pollution problem, a probable increase in particulate pollution from more trucks driving through all the neighborhoods, and an increase in cost to most homeowners. While some people argued that homeowners should be able to choose who picks up their trash, we went from a system where neighborhoods only had to look at trash at the curb one day a week to one where there is trash out virtually every weekday. Council seemed to accept the either-or fallacy (see below) that was presented to it by management (i.e. accept totes or get out of the garbage business). There were other alternatives that could have been used to prevent trash being on our streets citywide every day. If nothing else, the City needs to review its’ involvement in how trash and recycling is done to cut down on the number of days trash is picked up in individual neighborhoods. 

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia? 

The City needs to have a strong and positive role in attracting new businesses and keeping current ones in Batavia. The maintenance of City infrastructure and services is a critical part of that role. Business needs to know that the streets will be swept and plowed, police will be enforcing the law, fire trucks will respond if needed, and City agencies will work to provide necessary permits and support in a timely manner. The City should be proactive in seeking potential businesses and supportive of those who are here.

If the choice came down to either A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose? 

As far as I know this idea has not been discussed at the City or County level. There would have to be extensive discussion and public input before such a decision was made. As this question stands it is a "hypothetical choice". As such it is an example of the either-or logical fallacy. It only allows two possible choices (either-or) when, in fact, there may be others. Further, it is based on several assumptions that may or may not be accurate. The first assumption is that raising taxes is in and of itself is a bad thing. Second assumption is that the county would have the wherewithal and desire to increase its’ role in the City. Third assumption is that there would not be a tax increase from the County to cover its’ increased expenses. Fourth assumption is that the service provided by the County would meet the needs of the City. Fifth assumption is that we, the City, would be able to create a volunteer fire department that would meet the needs of our residents without having an adverse affect on the City residents and businesses. If the time were to come when there was such a budget crisis that these kinds of major structural changes are on the table Council would need to explore all possible options before making a decision. Only then could members of the Council, including myself if elected, make the choice that is best for the City.

I believe that a locally based police force is preferable to consolidating police power. The concentration of more police power in larger agencies can have consequences we haven’t considered. Having grown up in a city that has a long tradition of volunteer fire companies, I think it might be difficult to make the transition from our paid firefighters to a volunteer system. Ultimately the supposed savings that a tax cut might seem to give taxpayers could be eaten by additional individual expenses as we have experienced with the trash event. We could create a situation where individual costs rise, life and/or property were endangered. Sometimes simple solutions are not as simple they appear.

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

I feel that the current Council is not providing the leadership that they were elected to provide. The Council needs to use a formal committee system to increase its’ understanding of the issues that confront the city and to increase citizen participation. A committee system would allow a dialogue to be created where Council would have a truer understanding of what citizens are saying. I would like to see at a minimum Finance, Personnel, and Public Services Committees. All major laws and policy proposals would be explored before being passed on to the whole Council. Committees would hold open meetings where citizens could address issues and changes AND Council members could ask questions of citizens to make sure they understand their concerns and ideas. These discussions would take place early in the process to avoid a sense of overwhelming time pressure that seems to be a norm now. 

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you? 

I was asked to run and declined at first. As we went through the trash event it became clear that there needed to be changes in how the Council was connecting with the citizens. The process was skewed and needed to be brought back in balance. I guess it was a case of put my money (in this case time) where my mouth was. After meeting with Diana Kastenbaum I agreed to run. I believe that no one has "all the answers" and we need to find the ones that are best for Batavia. I don’t think of good, inclusive solutions as belonging to any one party. With the Council working together with all parts of the community we can find the solutions that are best for Batavia. We need to keep an open mind when presented with new ideas and proposed solutions and not fall prey to ideology.

May 14, 2013 - 12:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, lt. eugene jankowski.

Former Batavia PD lieutenant Eugene Jankowski was honored Monday night by the Batavia City Council for his 34 years of service to the city.

Among Jankowski's many accomplishments was creating the Emergency Response Team (commonly referred to in other jurisdictions as SWAT).

Jankowski was forced to retire earlier this year when the lieutenant positions were eliminated from the Batavia police force.

Two weeks ago, the City GOP committee endorsed Jankowski for one of the three at-large council positions up for election in November.

November 3, 2012 - 12:03pm

Elect Laura Russell-Ricci for City Council at Large this November 6th. Invested in Batavia--Past, Present & Future!

I am asking for your vote to be your representative on the Batavia City Council. I care deeply for this community and feel that I can offer fresh ideas and a younger perspective to help move Batavia into the future. Batavia is the community where I was raised and where my husband Phil and I have chosen to raise our family. I believe in safe streets and safe activities for our youth. I also believe in a stable tax rate for everyone, especially our seniors, who struggle on fixed incomes.

  • Lifelong Batavian
  • Wife & Mom of 3 great children
  • Licensed Social Worker
  • MS Roberts Wesleyan
  • BS Keuka College
  • Proud U.S. Army Veteran
  • Employed by Mental Health Association

Please consider me as you go to the polls on November 6th. I thank you in advance for your support. Contact: [email protected] or visit my Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-Russell-Ricci-for-Batavia-City-Council-at-Large/416887225015119?ref=ts&fref=ts

Paid Political Advertisement. Paid for by Laura Russell-Ricci.

February 7, 2012 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

On a vote of 6-3 Monday night, the Batavia City Council approved a $1,500 annual raise for themselves.

Council pay will bump from $2,000 annually to $3,500.

It's the first pay raise for the council in 20 years.

New council members Brooks Hawley, Chris Doeringer and John Canale voted against the raise.

January 24, 2012 - 9:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

Batavia City Council members deserve a pay raise, veteran Council Member Rose Mary Christian said to kick off Batavia's budget session Monday night, according to WBTA.

Christian, who represents Ward Six, didn't say how much the raise should be and apparently there wasn't much support from the nine-member council, which includes six new members.

Currently, council members are paid $2,000 per year.

The council is reviewing a proposed budget that would raise property taxes 4.2 percent and also increase water rates and fees more than $13 a year for the average customer.

December 15, 2011 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

The son of our State Assembly representative and a former city council member are the two people recommended by the city GOP committee to fill two vacancies on the Batavia City Council.

The city's charter provides that vacated seats be filled by appointees from the party of former seat holders.

Awaiting council approval are Brooks Hawley, son of Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and James Russell, a former council member.

They will replace, if approved, Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg, at-large members elected in November to seats on the Genesee County Legislature.

December 12, 2011 - 11:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

There was praise all around in Batavia City Council chambers Monday night as five council members commemorated their final meeting and their colleagues thanked them for their service.

Leaving are Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg, who were elected to the Genesee County Legislature, and Sam Barone, Bill Cox and Bob Bialkowski.

"The majority of this body is leaving and the majority of the body will be new and most of them are here (tonight)," Bialkowski said. "I can only wish them well. I commend them for their interest and dedication to serving the community."

Nearly every council member spoke about how tough it was to serve on the council a few years ago -- Ferrando said it wasn't fun to come to meetings -- but how much has changed in the past couple of years.

"Whenever we've left a meeting, we always left respecting every one's opinions and we will always be friends," said Rose Mary Christian. "I want to thank you all for serving our city."

Ferrando said the council has done some good work over the past few years that all members can take pride in.

"I think one of the good  things that happened is what we’re sitting in right here," Ferrando said. "What happened with this building is that it transformed our Main Street. I think that’s a very positive thing. It’s going to be more obvious as the years go on."

Photo: Front, from left, Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg; back, Sam Barone, Bill Cox and Bob Bialkowski.

November 18, 2011 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council.

Announcement from the City of Batavia Republican Committee:

The City of Batavia Republican Committee is accepting applications from city residents interested in filling one of the two city council at-large positions that will be opening up at the beginning of the year.

Letters of interest and resumes can be dropped off or mailed to the attention of Joe Gerace at 16 Vine St., Batavia. Letters of interest are due by Monday, Nov. 28.

The City of Batavia Charter requires these positions to be filled by individuals currently registered with the Republican Party, as this was the party of the two outgoing at-large city council members.

November 3, 2011 - 9:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, election.

We've asked each of the candidates in the city council and county legislature races to answer a couple of questions regarding why they're running and what they hope to accomplish if elected. Election Day is Tuesday.

Here's the response from Kris Doeringer, 1st Ward, Batavia City Council:

The key issue for Batavia is to make our city a place where people will want to live and work. This means keeping our city safe and secure, provide the services that people want, and to bring jobs and services into the city. While this is a big task, you can only get there by taking one step at a time.

The first step we need to take is to control spending and keeping our taxes down. From speaking with people in the 1st Ward, people do not mind paying taxes as long as they are getting their money's worth for those taxes.

We need to keep those services that are essential to keep the city safe and secure. Because who wants to live somewhere that is not safe?

We need to make Batavia a place where people want to open businesses and provide jobs. Creating economic development is essential to getting our city to move forward. We have resources in place, now we must make sure that they are doing the job.

In order to achieve these goals, I will work to keep pressure on the people that are responsible for making it happen. I will bring suggestions not only from myself but from the people of Batavia. People I have spoken with have had great ideas that need to be brought before the city. I would like to continue hearing from everyone about any ideas they make have.

I own my own home, business, and I am raising my family here in Batavia. I have everything to gain for myself and my children by making Batavia a better place. By voting for me, I promise to work hard to fulfill my promises to you and to my family for making Batavia the best it can be.

November 3, 2011 - 9:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, election.

We've asked each of the candidates in the city and county legislature races to answer a couple of questions regarding why they're running and what they hope to accomplish if elected. Election Day is Tuesday.

First to respond, John Canale, candidate for the 3rd Ward, city council.

The primary reason I am running for city council is in response to the advice of my late father "Lou," who himself was a former city councilman and county legislator. He often reminded me that if I am to live, work, raise a family, and run a business in one community, there will come a time that I must give something back to that community that so generously supported me.  After living my entire 51 years in this great city, now is the time, and I can think of no better way to serve my community than as a city councilman.

I would like to offer the residents of the 3rd Ward an equal voice on city council, allowing their views and concerns to be heard, considered, and represented without bias regarding all city matters. The primary reason voters should support me is because I have the business "know how" it takes to run the city. As a local small business owner of Canale's Drum Studio, and having been involved in the local business community for the past 28 years in this great city, I feel the business background and knowledge that I bring to council is extremely advantageous to running a municipality.

One of the key issues I would like to focus on during my term is concentrating on the existing process of increasing revenues as we continue to look for ways to consolidate duplicate services in order to cut costs. These two facets are crucial to maintaining current services without impacting dramatic tax increases that the taxpayers can no longer shoulder.

I look forward to working with Julie Pacatte, our new economic development coordinator, to find ways to encourage more small business development and expansion in the city. Small business development will be crucial to building new revenue sources through expanding the tax base and increasing traffic and activity within the city.

September 13, 2011 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

At Monday's Batavia City Council meeting, council members Bill Cox and Bob Bialkowski welcomed recently appointed Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte to her new job by presenting her with a "Treasures of Batavia" picture collection. It was purchased from St. James Episcopal Church, which is selling collections of pictures to raise money to help restore the church's bell tower. Cox said he saw the pictures and thought they would be a nice way to welcome Pacatte to her new position.

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