My name is Dahn "Dan" Bull. I am 23 years old and I am currently the Chairman of the Fredonia-Pomfret Republican Committee. I ran for County Legislature two years ago in District 25, and it was the time of my life. Now, I know that this year I am not a candidate, but I wanted to answer your call none the less. For someone who plans on being an elected official in the future, I felt it proper to speak now and be as open and honest as possible.
Do you support downsizing and consolidations of government and school districts? Why? If you support downsizing our county legislature, how many members would you propose and how would you accomplish the redistricting of the county?
I am in full support of consolidating government and school districts. With government, its effect will be reduction of costs, with schools, it will be the strengthening of services. Consolidating schools will not necessarily lead to cheaper property taxes, but the extent of which academics and extra curricular activities can be delivered will be far better than today. Finally students can learn Latin, Spanish, German, Italian and French, while playing in a full orchestra or finally having Astronomy and Applied Mathematics classes. Opportunities like these are often lost at small schools. As for government, cooperation with DPW's, sharing and buying equipment together are huge steps in reduction of costs. Regional Fire and Police Departments can lead to savings as well. Also, a real look at an overlapping of services (roads,senior groups,housing aid, etc.) should be attempted. This was just a brief overview and of course with each point there would be months and months of dedicated research. Overall, it is something that needs to occur now before we are mandated by the state to do it. Once the state says we must proceed, it is most likely that the state will force us to conform to actions and ideas we completely disagree with. Doing it now for ourselves will help to ease the transition and at lease deliver a product that we chose, not someone from Manhattan or Long Island.
As for the Legislature, I believe we should redistrict more focused on population and establish not a number of seats, but a number of individuals represented. Currently, there is a little more than 5,500 individuals give or take, represented by each legislator. Let us establish the proper number to be represented. I would like to see somewhere between 7 and 9 thousand. I believe that this would be between fifteen and seventeen legislators. To have any less than fifteen I feel would under represent the economical, industrial, agricultural and cultural diversity of Chautauqua County. There would be minimal cost savings but it would be a step in the right direction and an example for cities, towns and villages to follow.
Many governments and school districts use bidding to get the best possible price (though not always the best quality) for goods and services. Would you support a county law to post all county bids online so that taxpayers can see the top three bids and who was awarded the bid? If not, what SPECIFIC cost savings measure would you propose to the Legislature?
I am a fan of the practice that county and local government should conduct all practices openly and with as little "fog of war" as possible. All budgets, purchases, reimbursements and contracts, as well as salaries, should be available for public view and scrutiny. I would most definitely support an act that opens government spending for critique. The only issue we would have is in the area of local businesses. I could definitely see a type of "lobbying" occurring with school boards and governments alike with a fully transparent process. Friends of business owners writing to there representatives urging them to use one service over another. But then again, we would have to rely on the honesty and character of those we have elected to these offices to make the right decision and choose what is best for the benefactors of these contracts; residents and students of these municipalities and districts.
The next question is whether the rest of the candidates will choose principles and honesty or will they find some excuse to not respond to my invitation. After all, it's been said that politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in things which they should be part of. And declining to take a position publicly certainly has become an art form.
I do my best to get individuals involved in the process of self governance. Whether it is going door to door for a candidate, licking envelopes or creating small discussions in the coffee shop. It is all about getting people informed and involved. I chose to do this so that you can hear my side of the story and how I feel. These are issues we discuss in private and issues we speak about at our Committee meetings. I will forward your article to my friends who are running for County Legislature and I do hope that they will deliver an answer to you. Mr. Reuther, thank you for this opportunity, and thank you for staying involved in the process so many take for granted. I look forward to continuing the conversation in the future.
Think of it this way; now you have here a politician (a term I really don't like) stating honestly how they feel about something and in writing! That rarely ever happens.
Dahn S. Bull
Dahn S. Bull
Chairman, Fredonia-Pomfret Republican Committee