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September 30, 2019 - 12:58pm

Photo above: Part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers and Theresa Asmus-Roth, coordinator of Justice for Children Program.

Submitted photos and press release:

Theresa Asmus-Roth and Captain James C. Davis have added their names to the list of those endorsing Durin Rogers, a part-time Batavia City Court judge who is seeking election as the court's next full-time judge.

Asmuth-Roth is coordinator of Genesee County’s Justice for Children Program; Davis is coordinator of the County’s S.T.A.R. Program.

The Justice for Children Program is the Genesee County Agency that advocates for and give services to local children who have been victims of abuse or witnesses to violent acts, while the S.T.A.R. (Student Transition and Recovery) Program addresses the needs of local students who are facing school discipline or removal from their homes.

“I have worked with Judge Rogers in his role with the Genesee County Attorney’s Office as a part of the Justice for Children CORE team since my career in victim advocacy began in 2001," said Asmus-Roth, highlighting her experience with Rogers over the past 18 years.

"This has given me the opportunity to witness his dedication to child victims of abuse and view him as an experienced, thoughtful, and passionate legal professional."

She continued: “The Batavia City Court judge fills a crucial role in this community; a role that balances the constitutional and legal rights of a defendant against safety and justice for crime victims and the community as a whole… Judge Rogers’ decades of experience as a defense attorney, prosecutor, corporate counsel, and Judge have equipped him to excel in this position. It is with that in mind that I endorse Judge Durin Rogers for full-time city court judge.” 

Davis commended Rogers’ efforts in working with Family Court Judge Eric Adams in bringing the S.T.A.R. Program to Genesee County. He also praised Rogers’ ongoing support of the program since its inception as reasons for his endorsement.

“In my dealings with Judge Rogers…his knowledge of family matters within the court system has proved beneficial and supportive to the Genesee County S.T.A.R Program’s success,” Davis said. “I have personally learned and benefited from Judge Rogers’ knowledge of the law and his extraordinary ability to deal with and relate to ALL individuals

"We fully endorse his candidacy…I have no doubt that [Rogers] will be welcomed as your Batavia City Court judge and will serve the legal system and the City of Batavia with integrity and honor.” 

Rogers said “I have truly enjoyed working with Theresa and Captain Davis over the years. They are true professionals and have devoted their careers to protecting and assisting children in our community. I am proud to work with them and have their support and endorsement.”

Photo below: Captain James Davis of the S.T.A.R Program, part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers, and Sgt. Robert Ettinger, S.T.A.R Program.

September 23, 2019 - 10:25am
img_2951rogerspic.jpg

Submitted photo and information:

Part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers has received the endorsement of the New York Police Investigators Association supporting his effort to become Batavia’s next full-time city court judge, citing his experience and years of public service.

NYSPIA represents more than 2,000 active and retired State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers.

Association President Christopher Quick and Troop A Delegate Michael J. Connors stated in a letter to Rogers:

“It is with great pride that we support your candidacy for City of Batavia Court Judge. For almost four years, you have served on the bench…following a unanimous appointment by the Batavia City Council.

"During that time you have had the opportunity to handle thousands of cases, including criminal, civil, housing, drug court and Veterans Court; gaining valuable experience throughout."

Quick and Connors also noted Rogers’ “successful, long-term career as a prosecutor with the Genesee County Attorney’s Office, handling family offense domestic violence petitions…juvenile delinquency petitions, pistol permit hearings and child abuse and neglect filings.

"The New York State Police Investigators Association appreciates your years of service and our membership has great confidence in your ability and foresight…we offer our full support in your candidacy.” 

Rogers said: “I am honored and grateful to the New York State Police Investigators Association for their endorsement. Their support, along with the many other public officials and community members who have supported me in my effort to become Batavia’s next City Court Judge, only serves to confirm my commitment to our great community.

"As I canvass this great City and visit with our local citizens, I continue to listen to the people and their concerns and issues with our system of Justice. If elected, I look forward to serving this community faithfully, professionally and with the highest standard of excellence and ethics."

For further information, please contact the Committee to Elect Judge Rogers by visiting their Facebook page @electjudgerogers (facebook.com/electjudgerogers); by visiting www.electjudgerogers.com;  or by email at [email protected]

(Photo: Full-time Batavia City Court judge candidate Durin Rogers, left, with Michael J. Connors, Troop “A” Delegate for the New York State Police Investigators Association.)

March 12, 2019 - 3:50pm

Press release:

Voters who turn out for the Richmond Memorial Library’s annual budget vote and trustee election this year will see something new on the ballot: two vacancies. The current board authorized the creation of a sixth trustee position at its February meeting.

Now they seek candidates to fill it in the election to be held Thursday, May 2.

“They don’t only want to grow in size, but in skill and in diversity,” Library Director Bob Conrad explains. “We have always needed people with legal training and financial training, [and] people who are big readers, obviously. That hasn’t changed.

"But now libraries need people with IT skills and A/V skills, and people who watch movies and play video games.”

Library trustees are publicly elected volunteers who provide fiduciary oversight of the library’s spending. They also advise the Library Director on operations and in setting long-range goals.

“We’re lucky to have an HR professional on our board,” Conrad gives as one example. “But we have this beautiful old building, and nobody from the building trades on our board.”

The Richmond board meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday almost every month. Meetings last about two hours, and a single term is for five years, starting at the July 8 meeting.

A full description of the duties and responsibilities of a public library trustee in New York is available in a handbook published by the Division of Library Development: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/trustees/handbook.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates need to have lived in the library’s service area – the Batavia City School District – for at least three years preceding the election. They must also file a petition with the library, signed by at least 25 other residents, by 5 p.m. on April 2.

Blank petitions are available at the library now, during regular hours. The library is located at 19 Ross St. in the City of Batavia.

After the May 2 election – which also places a library budget increase of $25,350 on the ballot – the library’s bylaws permit the board to continue growing annually, through election and appointment, up to 15, the maximum allowed by charter.

For more information, contact Library Director Robert Conrad at 585-343-9550, ext. 7, or at [email protected]

Richmond Memorial Library continually provides access to physical and virtual resources and services that meet the educational, informational and recreational needs of its diverse community in a safe and comfortable environment. Learn more at www.batavialibrary.org

November 7, 2018 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, news, notify.

electionnight2018.jpg

There are multiple storylines coming out of Tuesday's midterm election:

  • The Democrats take control of the House but not the 27th Congressional District, though that race isn't technically over;
  • Local Libertarians are celebrating the more than 90,000 votes garnered by Larry Sharpe, giving the Libertarian Party for the first time the same level of ballot access as Republicans and Democrats;
  • Voters approved staggered, four-year terms for county legislators;
  • National, state and local voter turnout, traditionally low in midterm elections, that match or exceed presidential year elections;
  • Democrats gain full control of state government after picking up enough seats in the State Senate to now hold the majority in the upper chamber.

The last point is perhaps the most troubling to Assemblyman Steve Hawley who has both seen firsthand what happens when Democrats control the Senate and the "crazy stuff" of Assembly Democrats that has been kept in check, as he put it, by a Republican majority in the State Senate.

"The last time that it flipped to Downstate, I referred to it, we saw what happened," Hawley said. "They were in control for two years. Many of them have already served jail time. Many have been convicted and are going to be serving jail time. It was complete free fall from any sense of reality (with the) programs and bills that were passed in the Assembly that were heretofore blocked by the Senate. I really shudder to think what will happen with some of the crazy stuff that comes out of the Assembly."

As we reported previously, former NYS Farm Bureau President and Elba resident Dean Norton warned local farmers what to expect if the Democrats gained control of the State Senate: A higher minimum wage, a farm labor bill, more regulations, cuts in rural government and school funding.

As the election approached, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who previously represented Genesee County in Congress before losing to Collins in 2012, held an opposite view, according to her personal account Twitter feed. Example:

Joined great Democratic candidates in #Rensselaer who are fired up to continue our progressive agenda.

We will take back the @NYSenate and have @AaronGladd join us in the majority! We must fight back against Trump and stand together to push New York forward. pic.twitter.com/ebmfjf7IJS

— Kathy Hochul (@KathyHochul) November 2, 2018

McMurray Concedes Race, Then Demands Recount

Expectations of Democratic gains in the State Senate or congressional House didn't do much to boost spirits at Center Street Smoke House last night, where local Democrats had gathered, once Nate McMurray appeared on TV for a concession speech when results weren't looking good for his effort to unseat indicted incumbent Chris Collins.

McMurray had energized WNY Democrats in a way that perhaps even Hochul didn't do in 2011. The disappointment at McMurray's apparent loss was palpable.

"He ran (his campaign) from the grassroots," said Michael Plitt, chairman of the County Democratic Party. "I mean, you know, the state party and national party didn't invest much in the race at the beginning. He just worked and worked and worked and he got a lot of people interested that weren't in mainstream politics before.

"You look here in Genesee County, we had 37 people canvassing last Saturday -- in Genesee County. They were all encouraged by the message he had -- positivity and just getting things done. I think there was a lot of energy."

McMurray didn't waver in his high energy and encouragement to his volunteers even during his concession speech.

"We did something great," McMurray said. "It never shameful when you fight a righteous fight and that's what you did. I said in the beginning that we're going to break the machine, right? We're going to break the machine. Sometimes when you take on those big tasks, trying to break the machine, it doesn't break. You put a dent in it but if you keep whacking, eventually it's going to break." (Audio for McMurray's quotes courtesy our news partner, 13WHAM.)

McMurray expressed disappointment that Collins -- facing federal charges and a House Ethics Committee investigation, who avoided the public and the press during his campaign, who attacked McMurray and his family with dishonest television ads -- could possibly win in Western New York but he vowed to fight on.

"Come on, we're going to be all right," McMurray said, adding, "Remember Rocky one? Rocky didn't win. He looked like I do right now, all beat up, his face looked like hamburger. He lost. Well, remember there was Rocky two?"

At that point in the post-election night wind down, nobody expected "Rocky two" to come so quickly. Within hours, McMurray realized the vote count was going to be a lot tighter than he anticipated and so he announced that he would demand a recount.

Collins' 'Winning Strategy' -- Avoid the Press and the Public

While Collins mostly avoided the press after jumping back into the race four weeks ago (at one point he announced his withdrawal following his arrest on Aug. 8), the Clarence resident was pursued by Erie County reporters on Tuesday night and did answer some questions, at one point admitting it was his strategy to avoid taking questions from reporters or the public in debates or open meetings.

"I set a strategy, I think you'll see tonight that my strategy worked perfectly, it's about winning," Collins said. "Clearly, the media is not part of our strategy."

Plitt called the strategy "atrocious."

"Candidates should be available," Plitt said. "You know, we're here at a Democratic event. Anyone can walk in and talk. Nate was in Genesee County several times at events open to the public. It's imperative at any level of office, from town boards to Congress, that (officials) are accountable to the press and communicate with the public."

Hawley was less ruffled by the strategy.

"We'll see what happens if Collins wins," Hawley said (we spoke before the results were certain). "We'll see whether he becomes more involved in the process, whether it's attending town hall meetings, whether it's attending events. I ran into him two or three times recently at different events, so it looked to me as though toward the end of this race that he was becoming more visible and I would certainly encourage him to do that."

Libertarian Sharpe Surpasses Critical Vote Threshold

Local Libertarians were far more focused on the governor's race than the congressional race, not because they thought their candidate Larry Sharpe had any chance of winning but because Sharpe surpassing the 50,000 vote threshold was critical to the party's gaining ballot access in state and local races that is on par with Democrats and Republicans.

"This has been a goal since 1971," said Mark Potwora, chairman of the Genesee County Libertarian Party. "Now when we run our candidates it'll take fewer signatures and hopefully we will attract more people who will want to run. We want to be able to get into the county legislative races and more local races. It's a big thing. It's just a big step for the Libertarian Party."

The recruitment effort for more local candidates has begun and there's enough interest, Potwora said, that people have been contacting the party about running in races. The goal is to have fewer one-candidate elections.

"We've already had a lot of discussion with people that are ready to go," Potwora said. "We have members now from Le Roy. We're hoping that we can reach into Le Roy. It's all about more candidates. Our next step is outreach and getting more candidates because these ballots should not go with unopposed races. There should be no unopposed races."

County Voters Pass Long-sought Term Reform

There was a high turnout in Genesee County and whether the high turnout helped county legislators finally get passed a reform they've sought for years -- creating staggered, four-year terms -- is impossible to say, but at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q last night, where a few Republicans gathered to watch the results of the election come in, the legislators who where there were grateful it passed.

"On behalf of my fellow legislators, I would like to extend our appreciation to the voters of Genesee County for their support of the proposal to change the terms for county legislators," said Chairman Robert Bausch. "We believed that it was very much warranted considering the issues the county faces and are pleased that the county voters listened to that message and supported the proposal. We also want to extend our appreciation to all those who stepped forwarded and publicly supported this proposal."

In the run-up to the election, starting more than a year ago, there was a lot of talk about a "blue wave" sweeping the nation, a resistance against President Donald Trump, that would lead to Democratic victories across the land. After the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, where Democrats tried to derail his appointment to the Supreme Court, and after Trump's fearmongering about immigration, Republicans started talking about a "red wave," or a "red tide," or a "red wall" (Republicans never did seem to settle on a branding message).

Voters Showed Up

Among both Democrats and Republicans, across the nation, turnout was massive. What was true elsewhere was true in Genesee County.

"People are excited," Plitt said as we watched results come in. "From what I've heard turnout is high, almost at presidential levels, maybe better. People want to go express their opinion."

He didn't fully attribute the high turnout as a reaction to the Trump presidency.

"I think on both sides of the aisle he definitely fans the flame and maybe he brings out both side," Plitt said. "Yeah, I think that's a lot of it but there's a lot of interest in state issues as well."

Hawley thinks it's a good thing that people are getting out to vote, whatever the reason.

"Any time you can invoke people to become participants in our electoral process it's a good thing," Hawley said. "Whether we're divided or not, I'm not really sure that's the case. We'll have to watch the election results across the country to see whether it's divisive or not. Whether it's President Trump and his style, whether it's Governor Cuomo and his style, and whether it's challengers who are perhaps a little less verbal and vocal without regard to what they're saying, that gets people involved, as I say, it's a good thing."

Top Photo: Libertarians at T.F. Brown's.

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Democrats at Center Street Smoke House.

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Republicans at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q.

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Steve Hawley, Barb Eddy, and Gregg Torrey pose for a selfie.

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Gloom and disappointment at Center Street as McMurray delivers a concession speech.

November 7, 2018 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, NY-27, batavia, news, notify, chris collins, Nate McMurray.

localdemsnov62018.jpg

As Nate McMurray appeared on TV just after 11 o'clock tonight, a couple of local Democrats at Center Street Smoke House for election night noticed McMurray didn't look happy.

The room turned glum.

"Don't concede, Nate," one of them said.

That's was what McMurray was about to do.

With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the New York 27th Congressional District, Rep. Chris Collins held at 2,697 vote lead, a 49.5 to 48.4 percent margin.

In Genesee County, Collins won with 2,837 more votes, 53.8 percent to 39.91 percent, or 10,986 votes to 8,149.

These are unofficial vote totals, not yet certified and do not include absentee ballots.

Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza picked up 598 votes locally, or 2.93 percent, which was fewer votes than the 651 ballot line for the 27th blank.

McMurray did beat Collins in the City of Batavia, 2,219 votes to 1,821.

The NY-27 is a 22-point Republican advantage and McMurray, a Democrat who is town supervisor in Grand Island, still managed to make it a close race, primarily because Collins has spent much of the past year under the cloud of an ethics investigation and was arrested Aug. 8 on federal charges related to alleged insider trading. 

Also in Genesee County, the controversial ballot measure to stagger and extend terms in office members of the County Legislature passed 9,508 votes to 8,981.

In contested races, Barbara Czworka won the Town of Bethany Highway Superintendent election over Michael T. Adams, 440 votes to 289 votes. For Town of Alexander Justice, Mark Anderson beat Nicholas Falcone 775 to 757. (CORRECTION: This was a vote-for-two election. Anderson and Falcone both ran unopposed, not against each other.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not fare well among Genesee County voters, getting only 4,982 votes to 13,397 for Marc Molinaro. Larry Sharpe received 1,201 votes locally. Howie Hawkins got 252 and Stephanie Minor, 188.

UPDATE 12:28 a.m.: McMurray issued the following statement:

"While tonight's results are disheartening, my fight for a better Western New York and a better United States will not end. This is my home, and I believe we deserve better than a Congressman under indictment and out on bail, but I also respect the will of the voters, and they have spoken. This campaign was a part of a movement to fight for the rights and leadership that we deserve as Americans. Tonight’s result is a setback, but we will never give up.”

UPDATE 12:53 a.m.: McMurray just issued a new statement demanding a recount:

"After examining the numbers, the margin is 1 percent and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount. Mr. Collins is going to need another set of lawyers.”

We'll have more election coverage sometime tomorrow.

Top photo: Democrats watch Nate McMurray's concession speech at Center Street.

November 6, 2018 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, election, notify.

For the first time -- as far as we know -- Rep. Chris Collins made his first appearance in Genesee County since his arrest Aug. 8, stopping by a polling location in Oakfield to drop off donuts.

Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, said he spoke with a Democratic poll monitor at the poll in Oakfield and Collins did not campaign while at the location, did not carry any campaign material and did not wear anything that would identify him as Chris Collins.

"He spoke to one or two of the inspectors," Siebert said. "From what I understand he just wished them a good day. He had no campaign button or anything on that would identify him as Chris Collins. He did no campaigning with any of the people standing in line to vote."

Collins is running for reelection after being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI. His top rival is Nate McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island.

The turnout is reportedly good at Genesee County polling locations, on par with a presidential-year election, according to Lorie Longhany, the Democratic election commissioner. 

"We just heard from another polling location and they are using the word, 'busy,' " Longhany said. "My guess is, a more robust turnout for a midterm, which is what is being reported nationally."

Our news partner, WBTA, contributed to this story.

November 6, 2017 - 3:00pm


Please vote for Roger V.V. Rouse for the Town of Byron Supervisor! Voting takes place at the Byron Town Hall on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017.

November 8, 2016 - 6:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, batavia, news.

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There were four people in line at the polling station on Evans Street, inside the Fire Hall, before the polls even opened at 6 a.m., this morning.

Within minutes of the polls opening, another five or six voters showed up.

Local officials are expecting a record-level turnout for this election, driven mainly by a highly contentious presidential election fronted by major-party candidates who are polarizing on both sides -- Hillary Clinton, the first woman who is a major party nominee, and Donald Trump, a celebrity and real estate mogul.

There are other contested offices on the ballot, including U.S. Senator, State Senator and Batavia City Council.

Laurie Thomas was the first voter at the Fire Hall this morning and we asked her why this election was important to her.

"I think it’s probably the most important election in my lifetime," Thomas said. "You know, people look at the economy and say it’s good and they have to be blind. That’s one reason I’m voting for somebody who has taken a business and built it up and knows a thing or two about the economy."

It's been a long, bruising campaign and some people have been saying they're happy that it's over, but Thomas said she doesn't necessarily feel that way.

"I’m excited about this election," Thomas said. "I voted for Trump. I think there’s going to be a sweep for him. There are people out there who are really mad with the government we have and when you look at Hillary and see the corruption and the lying. I would much rather have somebody who is a little crude, OK. My dad was crude, but he was a great guy. I would much rather have that than somebody who just puts everything in the dark and you never see anything until somebody digs it up."

UPDATE 9:17 a.m.: Turnout has been strong and steady throughout the county this morning, according to an elections official. There was one glitch. A vote scanning machine in Bethany malfunctioned. It was quickly replaced.

January 8, 2016 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sheriff, election.
candidate_williamsheron_2016.jpg
      William Sheron

Press release:

Undersheriff William A. Sheron Jr., will seek the Republican Party endorsement for the 2016 election for Genesee County Sheriff.

Undersheriff Sheron, 57, has over 38 years of experience with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; serving as second in command for the past 20 years. He began his career in June 1977 as an emergency service dispatcher and was subsequently promoted through the ranks of Deputy Sheriff-Jail, Deputy Sheriff - Road Patrol, Sergeant, Investigator and Chief Deputy-Road Patrol. In January 1996 he was appointed Undersheriff.  

Undersheriff Sheron is a graduate of the New York State Commission of Corrections Training Academy, Erie County Central Police Services Basic Police Officer Training Academy, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Police Supervision Course, United States Drug Enforcement Agency Drug Interdiction Course, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Hostage Negotiations, the F.B. I. National Academy in Quantico, Va., and the F.B.I. National Academy Executive Development Program.

Undersheriff Sheron is credited with the formation of the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force in 1989, which began as a one-man unit and developed into a county-wide collaborative Task Force with the City of Batavia and Le Roy Police Departments. He served as a Field Training Officer, Hostage Negotiator and a member of the department’s Crash Management Team.

Over his career, Sheron has received departmental recognition awards including Officer of the Year in 1982, Meritorious Service in 2000 and 2009, and Commendation Awards in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1994 and 1996.

As Undersheriff, his responsibilities include: the oversight of the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, along with the administration of grants and governmental programs; oversight of the department’s training, development and adherence to departmental standards; investigation of allegations against departmental members; recruitment and selection of personnel; and responsibility of the operations of Genesee Justice and the Justice for Children Advocacy Center.

Undersheriff Sheron served as the 2006 president of the F.B.I. National Academy Associates New York State /Eastern Canada Chapter; has held several positions on its board of directors and currently serves as the Chapter’s secretary treasurer. Sheron is an active member of the Genesee County Traffic Safety Board, Genesee County Stop DWI Advisory Board, the Mental Health Association of Genesee/Orleans County Board of Directors, Genesee County Republican Committee, Genesee County Women’s Republican Committee, City of Batavia Republican Committee and Batavia Kiwanis Club. He previously served as the vice president of GCASA Board of Directors.

Undersheriff Sheron is a lifelong resident of Batavia. He attended St. Mary’s Grade School, Notre Dame High School and is a graduate of Genesee Community College with a degree in Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Shari, are parents to a blended family of five children and six grandchildren.

“If endorsed and elected Sheriff, I pledge to continue my life’s work of protecting the safety and security of the residents of Genesee County and the men and women of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office,” said William Sheron, Undersheriff.

October 26, 2015 - 3:00pm

Town of Darien Justice Wade Schwab on November 3, 2015!

  • Justice should be “swift and appropriate."
  • Strongly supports local Law Enforcement.
  • Town residents should feel that the local justice system will work to serve and protect their peace and safety.
  • A lifetime of serving the public and working with people during their worst times and their best times.
  • Fair and tough on crime.
  • Keep “justice” in the justice system.
  • Strongly supports OUR constitutional rights.
  • A man of integrity.

It's easy to read and interpret the laws, the important part is listening to people and being fair and just!

  • NYTOA - New York Tactical Officers Assn.
  • NTOA - National Tactical Officers Assn.
  • NRA - National Rifle Assn.
  • G.C. Fish & Game Protective Assn.
  • Big Lakes Regional EMS Council
  • Genesee County EMS Council
  • 10 Years Fire Service
  • 25+ Years Volunteer EMS Service
  • Graduate of Alexander Central School
November 4, 2014 - 11:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins tonight released the following statement announcing his successful reelection as New York’s 27th District Congressional Representative.

“I am honored and humbled to again be elected by the hardworking people of New York’s 27th District,” Congressman Collins said.

“Voters across America made a clear choice today about the direction in which they want our country to move. Here in the 27th District of New York, like many places across our country, people have chosen to be represented by individuals who believe that job creation and economic growth should be spurred by the private sector, that big government is not good government, and that elected leaders should stand behind the principles they campaign on.

“I look forward to building on this nationwide momentum. My focus will remain on the issues that my constituents care about such as ensuring our veterans have the resources they deserve, fighting to reduce burdensome government regulations that negatively impact our farmers and small business owners, protecting Medicare benefits for our seniors, and reducing taxes to keep more money in individual’s pockets.

“I want to thank our hundreds of volunteers, our donors and most of all the voters. I would not be here without their strong support. Additionally, I want to thank my opponent, Jim O’Donnell for his service to our community and wish him the best going forward.”

November 6, 2013 - 12:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, election, county legislature.

With only 21 votes separating the two candidates for the District 9 seat on the County Legislature and 100 absentee ballots yet to be counted, neither incumbent Ed Dejanerio nor challenger Bob Bialkowski were interested in predicting the outcome of the race.

"I'm in the minority and who knows," Dejanerio said, acknowledging his role as the sole Democrat on the Legislature as well as the slight registration advantage for the GOP in District 9. "I do my best and that's all I can do."

Both candidates worked hard, they said of each other, and presented a stiff challenge throughout the campaign.

The unofficial tally has Dejanerio up 362 to 341.

Dejanerio is simply hard to beat, Bialkowski said.

"There's a lot of Democrats in the district," Bialkowski said. "Ed's been there a long time. Ed's a likable sort of guy. People like Ed. I'm pleased I've done as well as I have. Other people have tried running against Ed but have never done so well."

City GOP Chairman Matt Landers agreed.

"It's hard to beat an incumbent," Landers said. "Ed's been there a long time. He's beaten Republicans in the past. Bob worked really hard and we'll see how it breaks."

Things broke better for the GOP in the other three contested Legislature races.

Shelly Stein beat Earl Funderburk 1087 to 427 in District 5. Gregg Torrey beat incumbant Esther Leadley, a Republic who didn't get her party's nomination, 706 to 373, and the race was apparently made closer by the presence of a Libertarian on the ballot. Marianne Clattenburg beat Bill Fava 385 to 271 with Bob Brown picking up 82 votes.

"Bob did hurt us," Landers said. "We were worried that he would peel off Republican votes and it was relatively close between Marianne and the Democrat."

None of the big issues facing the County Legislature seemed to play a role in voters' decisions, based on the feedback candidates were getting while walking precincts. Voters rarely mentioned the nursing home, the Genesee County Economic Development Center, mandates, or hiring more jail guards.

People were concerned about taxes, but in the District 9 race, there isn't much difference on the issue between Dejanerio and Bialkowski.

"People are against any kind of property tax increase," Bialkowski said. "People in the city are hard pressed right now and when they hear that they're going to have a public hearing on going over the tax cap, that doesn't sit well with people. It doesn't sit well with me."

Top photo: Ed Dejanerio, city council candidate Diana Kastenbaum with Pat Burke at O'Lacy's while awaiting election results.

Matt Landers congratulates Gregg Torrey on his District 6 victory.

November 2, 2013 - 12:28pm

On January 21st of this year, a small group of concerned, like minded citizens, set to the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties. We didn’t know how to do it really, and we most certainly had no idea if it would work, but we felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go. It has been a great success!

As of June 8th, that little ragtag group of four people grew into a solid core group of committed individuals whose numbers were reaching one hundred fifty, and we’ve grown even more since then. On that same evening, we were not only officially formed as a chapter of the New York Libertarian Party (Fastest ever to do so), but we also nominated our series of candidates, Jim Rosenbeck, Lisa Whitehead, and a few weeks later, Robert Brown. It’s these wonderful people, we would like just a moment of your time to discuss.

 Jim is one the finest men we know. He’s caring and compassionate, just ask the hundreds of students that he impacted in his twenty seven year career as a school counselor at Pembroke Schools. He is giving with his time, willing to listen to any and all opinions, and respecting everyone who brings it. He is honest, transparent, and most of all, incredibly thoughtful. Jim doesn’t react first, then ask questions like we have seen too much in recent years. Jim asks questions, gathers facts, seeks input from those it will affect, and then makes a non-emotional decision based on a long term vision. He believes in not just impacting today, but tomorrow as well.

Lisa is the perfect example of a powerful woman! She is a no nonsense individual that knows how to get things done, negotiate to find the best solution for all sides, and has the foresight to understand that all perspectives can lead you to the correct path if you just listen. Yet, she is also “Mrs. Whitehead” to hundreds of our kids at John Kennedy, guiding them with care and compassion. Lisa knows how important a good plan is, which is why she is always seeking to understand the full vision in everything she does. She is kind, creative, honest and open to any and all that need her.

Robert, or Bob to us, is sincerely all of the good qualities of A Beautiful Mind. He is without a doubt one of the most analytical minds that we have ever met. He doesn’t just understand things, he is able to dissect them into fundamental pieces, then show anyone how they’re interacting with everything else. What you end up getting from that, is one of the most thoughtful, prepared and fact driven individuals in this area! Bob cares so deeply for his neighbors, and is always willing to listen to anyone that approaches him. He is honest, open, and brave.

Yes, we really like these people, and yes we are the people who endorsed them, so we should, right? True, but as two individuals, we also wanted to share with you how excited we are to actually have people we want to represent us! It has been a rare thing these past years to have that, and now we do! So with that, we like to humbly ask you to consider voting for Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead for Batavia City Council at Large, and Bob Brown for Genesee County Legislature District 8 on November 5th!

Thank you,

Phil Ricci and Dave Olsen

Chair and Vice Chair,

Genesee County Libertarian Party

March 14, 2013 - 2:10pm
posted by Michael Welch in election, elba, campaign, mayor, march 19.
Event Date and Time: 
March 14, 2013 - 2:05pm to March 19, 2013 - 9:00pm

        Mike Welch is running for Village of Elba Mayor

Hello. My name is Michael Welch. I am running for the office of Mayor this coming Tuesday March 19th, and I would like to ask for your vote!

May 13, 2012 - 1:25pm

The Batavia City School District Board of Education will have its budget vote and member election on Tuesday, May 15. The candidates for election/reelection have shared their views in a series of interviews with The Batavian. Click the names of the candidates below to read the interviews.

There are five candidates running, including three incumbents -- Phil Ricci, Gary Stich and Gail Stevens -- and two newcomers -- Gretchen DiFante and Dennis Warner.

Warner declined our request for an interview.

Phil Ricci interview

Gary Stich interview

Gretchen DiFante interview

Gail Stevens interview

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Batavia's John Kennedy Elementary School, at 166 Vine St., for school district residents who live north of Route 5, and Batavia High School, at 260 State St., for those who live south of Route 5.

For more information on the budget, see the May 1 article, Batavia district pitches budget with a nearly 2-percent increase in the tax levy.

For some specifics on the background of each candidate, see their short biographies on the district Web site.

May 13, 2012 - 1:23pm

The first candidate interviewed was Phil Ricci, who has been on the school board since November. Ricci is a military veteran who currently works as a branch manager of two Bank of America locations, and he has years of experience in business/management, process improvement, financial management and consulting, as well as in working with youth.

Ricci is also a member of the Batavia City Youth Board and a budget ambassador for the school district's Audit Committee. He lives in Batavia with his wife and three children.

Could you talk about the experience you bring to the school board -- especially in terms of business and working with youth?

On the business side, I've worked for both the private and public sector. I've managed millions of dollars in funds, as well as teams ranging from five people to five hundred people. That said, school districts are a whole other beast of burden. They're not like how normal businesses work. The hard thing about experience is that, yeah, I have it, but in order to learn how a school district works, you have to learn how the state thinks and try to apply your business experience to that. Anyone who knows about New York State will tell you that if the state was a business, it would have been bankrupt 10 times over at this point. People on the school board learn real quickly that business experience doesn't go a whole long way with the way New York State does things.

As far as working with youth, when I was in Germany (in the military) I built a program from the ground up. It's called "Skies Unlimited," of which I then became the regional director of instruction for all of Europe. I got to work with every different type of population, and I learned the real message of advocacy. There are so many people out there who do not view youth programs as essential, and I challenge that every time I hear it. If you don't have solid youth programs, solid education, and solid support structures for youth, you end up having higher crime rates. You end up having a less educated workforce.

I think the biggest thing I've learned over the years -- working with kids in the military and being on the Youth Board here -- is that advocacy is huge. Even being on the school board, I can see that the way the state distributes money is inequitable. There are a lot of downstate districts that are not being affected to the same extent that our kids up here are being affected. And if you don't think that fighting for that is important because you don't like the way the system is, I'm not going to disagree with you that the system is broken; but those kids are suffering in the meanwhile. So I think the big thing for me with all the work I've done is learning how to be a solid advocate.

What made you want to run for the school board in the first place?

When Andy (Pedro) left, I was asked to come in and help out, so I threw my hat in the ring. There was a need, because (the school district is in) a really tough situation. The reason I'm asking to stay is that I know how bad it is, and I've seen what still needs to be done. We've got a lot of work to do, and it's far from being over. I know what it's going to take, and I just want the opportunity to help get us there. My big thing is and will continue to be to protect programs and to be equitable for all kids -- haves and have-nots. I'm not going to take away something from one youth that I wouldn't take away from another. But my main object is to not take anything away, and to do the things that need to be done to try to protect as many programs as we can.

I've been involved in the district for about seven years. I haven't always been on the board, but I've been involved. So I know what goes into (making a difference in the school district) and I know I can make a maximum impact.

Is there anything you would you like to change or see changed if you are reelected?

There's lots of things I'd like to continue to change. I think the biggest thing we need to work on right now in the district is our communication. I just think that we have to get better at expressing what we know and why we know it to everybody out there. That's an opportunity we've missed the ball on a lot. Some principles can't be explained simplistically, but it is our job to try and do that.

So one thing I would be pushing for from day one is more transparency, a clearer message, and just putting out there as much as we can.

How would you respond to people who express outrage that all other businesses and organizations are having to cut back and do more with less while the school district continues to propose tax increases? The implication is that the district thinks itself exempt from doing more with less.

I understand why they say things like that, and this goes back to the district not explaining things clearly enough. It's completely false. The district is doing a lot more with less. We're cutting programs. We're cutting positions. We've cut costs. We just closed a school. I think what's not being explained well enough is that these costs that keep pushing things up are not all controllable. Most of them out of our control -- they're coming down from the state. And at the state level, what they're doing is having their costs keep going up, and then they're pulling millions of dollars out of funding each year.

Imagine you have a job and a house budget. And every year, your costs are going to keep going up for whatever reason -- because of inflation or whatever it is. Then your employer comes in and says, "We're going to take eight-percent of your salary away each year for the next five years." So each year your costs are still going up, but you're losing an additional 8-percent of your income. If you're not making cuts, if you're not using your reserves, will you still be able to live in your house? Probably not.

My point is, of course we're cutting. Of course we're doing more with less. Because if we didn't, we wouldn't have a district. But we don't have control over all of our costs and expenditures. There is only so much you can cut, and there is only so much you have in reserve, before you start getting into these situations.

Just to be clear, before last year the board wasn't really raising the tax levy at all. It stayed pretty consistent. In the past couple of years, things have gotten really bad. You have a governor and a state legislature that has cut nearly 20 percent of your income over the past three years. So I would challenge anyone to show me how you can manage to not raise taxes in that situation -- as you're cutting positions and all this other stuff -- when 20 percent of your income goes away.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

It's ugly -- I'm not in love with it, but because of the position we're in...I mean, I also didn't want to close Robert Morris School. My kids go there, and as a parent it was a hard thing to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I was closing their school. But it was a necessity. It was not a decision anybody wanted to make.

Do I think we could have lowered the taxes a little bit more? Yes, and I've already said that publicly. But overall, am I displeased with what we did to keep things going? No. It's not what I would want, and I don't think anyone on the school board wants it. I think everyone would love to deliver a zero-percent tax increase and still keep all the programs and all the schools open. But that's not the reality we live in right now.

What will happen if the budget gets voted down?

What happens is this: If it gets voted down two times, under the new tax cap law our ability to raise drops down to zero. So what that will mean, to put it plainly, is that all the programs we reinstated (with the consolidation) will go away -- for example, the ACE program, different music programs, and I'm sure more on top of that. Non-mandated programs will get looked at. These will get cut, because we're going to have to come up with an additional $500-$600. And plus we have other costs, too. So the people who vote "no" will get their zero-percent tax increase and kids will lose out on programs. It's that simple.

Can you comment on the house administrator position that is being created at Batavia Middle School?

This is another thing I don't think we're explaining well enough. The house administrator position is a re-purposed position. It's a new position as far as title goes, but it isn't a new hire kind of position.

What we did was take a model that is being used all across the country in larger schools. We're going to be adding a ton of kids to the middle school, so to make this really work we've re-purposed an assistant principal position, and we're making that person an in-house administrator; that means that this person is going to be in charge of the fifth and sixth grades. This person will be a direct point person for all parents, oversee all of the teachers, and stuff like that. Sandy Griffin is still in charge of the middle school, but because she is going to have over 800 kids in that school, we wanted to give her some additional support.

We understand that parents are nervous about the fifth-grade integration. We recognize that. And we wanted to make sure that next year and years into the future, that program is strong and the kids can go into the seventh grade with no problems. So all we did was utilize the resources we already had and the resources that we were going to have, and we're using them in a smarter way so that we can have a strong integration program with the fifth-graders coming into the middle school.

Do you have any closing comments?

I'll just say this: I understand the frustration that's out there. I'm not blind to it. Every time I make a decision, I'm doing it with four voices in my head. I hear a retired grandmother who is on a fixed income, for whom a 2-percent increase is not just a simple thing. I hear a working, single mom who is struggling to pay her bills -- or even unemployed. I hear the parents -- and the parent that I am -- about protecting programs for their kids so that they have a good future. And then I hear the kids' voices. How many kids have shown up crying at meetings because we're taking away things that change their lives?

These are the voices you hear (when you're on a school board). These aren't easy decisions. Any person who has the courage to go onto a comment board and tell people to vote something down, but not the courage to hear all of those voices and know what goes into making these decisions is someone who doesn't understand fully what it takes to do this job. I do, I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I wish to continue to do it. I've been called crazy for this, but I know I have the right demeanor and the right approach to this...and I care. And I think you need all that in order to be successful.

Photo courtesty of the Batavia City School District.

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