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In their own words

November 1, 2009
Observer Today

AT-LARGE

Current First Ward Councilman A.J. Dolce

1. Upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant are the city's most immediate concern and fortunately it is finally addressed. Council was recently asked to support a $6.3 million bond resolution for Phase 1 of this project. It is a resolution that I will enthusiastically support as the facility is in dire of need of repairs.

Article Photos

OBSERVER file photo
After Tuesday’s election, Dunkirk’s Common Council will have a different look as Fourth Ward Councilman Bob George is not seeking re-election and a new council member will be elected in the First Ward.

Without this bond resolution the Water Treatment Plant would fall into further disrepair and the city would be facing a consent order. This facility is the foundation for maintaining and attracting businesses, which should lead to job growth and an expanding tax base.

We must get past this band-aid/crisis by crisis approach to dealing with issues affecting the city-its time to institute long range financial planning to tackle our numerous infrastructure needs.

2. I offer decisive, independent leadership for the position of Councilman-at-Large with an eye towards the city's long-term outlook.

Fact Box

EDITOR'S NOTE: Eight city candidates were asked to answer these three questions posed by Gib Snyder, OBSERVER city editor.

1. What is the number one problem in the city of Dunkirk and what would you do about it?

2. Why should people vote for you and not your opponent?

3. Are you in favor of consolidation and sharing services? If yes, what department or function is a priority for you?

Small business growth is certainly the backbone to any community, but we cannot lose focus on the need to attract businesses that will provide a living wage to the many families in this community. Although initial steps have been taken to address the water treatment plant, strong decisive leadership will be needed to see this project through to its conclusion. Meaningful use of the city's greatest asset, the lake, will never be achieved without significant repairs to the lakefront seawall.

Infrastructure issues and long range financial planning have not been the practice of my opponent. The city cannot spend another eight years using a band-aid/crisis by crisis approach to such significant infrastructure problems.

3. I support this concept if it can be demonstrated that savings will be achieved without sacrificing services to the community.

Our fire and police departments are in dire need of improvements to their working conditions. Making necessary upgrades to these facilities would most certainly aid in the deliverance of services.

Sharing services and facilities within departments can be just as cost effective and innovative. A community does not always need to look outside its own boundaries to achieve tangible cost savings.

Incumbent James Muscato

1. At this time the number one problem in the city of Dunkirk is to address the necessary repairs and upgrades to our water system. What I would do about it is already being addressed by both the city administration and the common council. Reacting to a consent order issued by both the New York State Department of Health and the Chautauqua County Department of Health, the city has made some improvements at this time but many problems still must be resolved. Our contracted engineering firm has proposed a schedule to ensure the issues are adequately addressed in a timely fashion. This schedule will carry us in to the year 2014. The common council, along with the city administration, is and will be evaluating and adjusting the water rate structure to cover costs associated with the necessary improvements.

2. I feel the voters should cast their vote for me because what I offer to them is availability, reliability and 28 years of experience. Being retired is a plus. I am available at any time of the day to receive calls and respond to city issues and concerns that city constituents have.

My opponent has full time employment as well as other members of council, both present and possible future members. They are not able to respond until late afternoon or early evening, or when it's convenient for them.

I am in city hall on a daily basis and visit with the city adminstration and department heads when possible, to try and keep up to date with related happenings in their departments. As chairman of the finance committee, I conduct monthly meetings and set the agenda for the meetings. I provide to the city clerk's office minutes of the meetings.

My opponent, Councilman Dolce, was appointed to the chairmanship of the Public Safety, Fire and Police Committee. To date he has only called one meeting for the year and that seemed to be again for his convenience. That meeting was to tour the city fire halls and assess the structural needs of the buildings. If anyone went to the clerk's office and asked to see the minutes of his meeting, they will find that they are not available. No results of the tour was presented other than at a later council meeting when Mr. Dolce did mention that the tour took place. I have three phone numbers to reach me at on a daily basis. Mr. Dolce has one and that is provided to him by the city. Once more the reasons are availability, reliability and 28 years of experience.

3. I have always been a proponent of consolidation and shared services. Being realistic about the issue of consolidation, I don't see it happening unless it is mandated by the state of New York. I do feel that sharing of services is more achievable.

The city presently does share services with other local municipalities. I know there has been talk about police and fire but at this time I would like to see more shared services in the public works area. The city has a need to upgrade its equipment. Some municipalities, including the county, have equipment that the city of Dunkirk does not have and is too costly to purchase. Some of this specialized equipment could be shared with the city as needed, and in turn share some of our specialized equipment with them. These vehicles are not in use on a regular basis and I am sure a workable agreement could be made for the betterment of all. Also joint purchasing of everyday supplies that all municipalities use would be another area to explore for cost savings to all.

FIRST WARD

Michael Michalski

1. I believe the number one problem with the city of Dunkirk is the decline in the appearance and condition of housing. The housing blight that residents and visitors to our city are exposed to needs to be addressed now. There have been great strides made to improve upon certain areas of the city such as the waterfront, downtown, parks and playgrounds. I feel this problem negatively affects community pride, our ability to attract new businesses and future economic development.

To address this problem, I am proposing the following: First, why can't the city's building inspector better address housing blight so he can effectively do his job? Are there legal constraints or staffing issues? Do city housing codes need to be revised and are they being enforced? These are questions I feel need to be answered.

If the building inspector is doing everything in his power to address this issue, then we need to find ways to improve upon the effectiveness of those methods currently being used.

Secondly, I have been working on a residential facade program with city officials, department heads and the county executive that will allow eligible residents to borrow up to $5,000 to make exterior improvements to their homes such as roofs, siding, painting, windows and doors by professional contractors. To be administered through the department of development, this program, once funded, will potentially offer residents the means to improve the exterior appearance of city homes and neighborhoods.

2. I think residents should vote for me because I have demonstrated over the past several years the willingness and desire to become involved in the betterment of our city. I have voluntarily served on the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation, the Dunkirk IDA and the Boardwalk Market Committee. All of these committees have had positive effects on the city's economic development, image and revitalization.

I plan to bring a positive and professional approach to solving issues facing residents and city government. I believe to be an effective councilman, you need to have an independent voice, listen to the concerns of city residents and present questions on issues when they arise.

Upon graduating from Fredonia State with a degree in business and finance, I have been employed in the field of banking for the past 18 years and I enjoy working with people and financial matters. I intend to bring this same customer satisfaction approach to residents of the city.

Active in the community through youth sports, church and civic organizations, I believe that if you give back to the community, you will make it a better place for everyone. While many of our friends have chosen to live elsewhere, my wife and I have made a conscious decision to own a home and raise our family in the city of Dunkirk. We would like to give our children more reasons to live here and make the same choice when they are older.

In regards as to why people should not vote for my opponent, I do not believe it would be very professional to make negatives comments about my opponent and I hope that he would extend the same courtesy to me. Educating voters on various issues will hopefully offer enough information for residents to make the best choice for First Ward Councilman.

3. Yes, I am in favor of both consolidation and the sharing of services. However, it has to make sense and create a more efficient and/or cost effective government.

For consolidation to be truly effective, initiatives should be taken at the federal and state level first and then trickle down to the local level. School districts are given incentive to consolidate their operations and you can see those efforts happening locally. Local government will probably have to be offered the same types of incentives for any real consolidation efforts to begin.

Many banks judge the strength of their business plan by measuring how efficient they are. If state and federal aid was tied to how efficient our local government performed, I believe we would see many more municipalities making greater efforts to consolidate operations.

I think a more manageable goal for the city of Dunkirk is the sharing of services. A perfect example was this past summer when city officials contracted the services of a weed cutter for the harbor from another municipality. Instead of bearing the cost of purchasing one of these machines, the city used occupancy tax money to contract out this piece of equipment, which may have otherwise been used only a few times a year.

An inventory of available equipment from all surrounding municipalities should be made available for possible equipment sharing opportunities and prevent the unnecessary purchasing of duplicate equipment in the future.

I think all city departments should come under close examination to uncover additional ways to make operations more effective, share services and stream line costs while still providing a quality level of service to taxpayers.

Greg Sek

1. The number one problem in the city, to me is, there's no accountability in city hall. The mayor and the entire council has to work together. There has to be transparency and accountability in city hall. To hear "Oh it's my fault, I'll take full responsibility for that." That is not what taxpayers want to hear.

2. People should vote for me because I have been in Dunkirk for over 60 years. In that time I ran a business for over 30 years. Married for almost 40 years, raised a family here. I also sat on the Dunkirk School Board, together we worked on the budget and contracts that affected the school taxes.

And being retired I'll have the time to go out and see first hand problems that are of concern to the citizens of Dunkirk. I can go to anyone's home 24/7 to discuss any problem they have.

3. Yes, I think we should have a central water district and the city of Dunkirk being the lead agent. This would save other communities the cost to run a filtration plant and would increase the revenue for the city. Also, the local DPW's could bid out material that they use salt, sand, stone, gasoline.

THIRD WARD

Incumbent Rose Floramo

1. Infrastructure, sewer and water line problems are finally being addressed and taken care of. Council must continue the push for a complete overhaul of our neglected systems.

2. I have the time to give to this work.

3. Yes, we all agree we need consolidation but it is hard for many to give up ownership. I believe continuing open forums that have begun, we will see consolidation happen without thousands of dollars spent on more studies. For years I had hoped that the East and West towns and the city would become one Dunkirk, but it hardly gets discussed. For now I think the Dunkirk and Fredonia police departments are still talking and it is a start.

Kim Hanlon

1. The number one problem in the city of Dunkirk would be the declining number of people in the city. We need to have opportunities for our children, so they have the option to come back to Dunkirk after attending college or gaining life experience, and be able to find work. I can't even tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "I love coming home to Dunkirk, but there aren't any jobs available here for me."

If we have work available for them, then they can begin to raise their families here. We need to find a mix of public attraction facilities along with retail and commercial projects. We need to advertise our empty buildings and store fronts so business can start coming in. We need to continue working toward the development of our brownfield sites and the Millennium Parkway. This is a great city built on a beautiful lake. It should be thriving and booming with jobs and tourism. People are our best natural resource, so let's utilize them.

2. Although I may be a newcomer to the political area, I have a passion to see this city built up to its fullest potential because my family is vested in this city. I work in the city along with my husband. I currently have four children in the school system attending high school, middle school and School 4, and my youngest hasn't even started school yet. We have had a great experience with all three of the schools and I am proud to have my children attend them.

As you can see, as a parent I want what's best for them. Nothing gives a parent more drive than their children, so I have drive to make this community bigger, better, and safer. I bring a positive approach and enthusiasm. I am your city's new, young attitude with a lot of energy. I can ask the tough questions and be your voice, but it will be done in a respectful manner to city council, department heads, and the people of Dunkirk.

3. Consolidation is not a new concept; it has been in existence for many years. Unfortunately, New York State has not taken full advantage of this concept. The idea behind consolidation is to expand or broaden the tax base so the brunt of the taxes doesn't lie on the hand of the people in the city. So, in regards to the sharing of services I think we first need to look at the water department. For starters, we need to address the issues that are facing our pumping stations. We can't continue to put band aids on the boo boos and ignore the infection. We need to fix the issues. I believe we're headed in the right direction with the funds the city has already bonded, but we need to focus on the larger picture, which is distribution of city water to outer lying areas. There is no reason the City of Dunkirk cannot provide water to everybody, from Ripley to Siler Creek, and south to Cassadaga, thus improving upon the greater Chadwick Bay area.

I personally want to thank everybody who has given me support so far throughout my campaign. I look forward to serving the people in the City of Dunkirk and I thank you in advance for your support on Nov. 3.

FOURTH WARD

Marie Damico

1. Since announcing my intention to run for the Fourth Ward council position I've had the opportunity to speak with many city voters about what they feel is working and what needs to be changed. Over and over I've heard that residents are tired of the bickering among politicians and control by parties trying to impose their agendas.

This isn't to say that questions shouldn't be asked and that the mayor and council members must agree all the time. I believe it's quite the opposite. Questions need to be asked and individuals have a right to their own opinions. A constructive conversation between adults involves listening to another's point of view and respecting their right to their opinion. These exchanges often involve making compromises and at times, agreeing to follow a course selected by the majority without sabotaging and badmouthing it, thus dooming it before it has a chance. New and improved ideas often result from such discussions; however, these conversations can be conducted without insulting and demeaning one another.

I've said before, individuals running for public office should have the best interests of the city and its taxpayers at heart. This isn't the time for trying to meet individual or party agendas. Dunkirk has built up some momentum over the past couple of years due to projects such as Crocker Sprague, the Boardwalk and Incubator. Businesses have announced intentions to expand (ECR's new line and Purina) and others are relocating to the city (Remtronics) resulting in new jobs.

Let's keep moving forward and not spend too much time tearing each other apart. Outsiders tear Dunkirk down often enough; let's prove them wrong rather than joining in.

2. I'm asking people to vote for me rather than my opponent based upon my qualifications and my experience working with individuals and families in our city. My training as a Licensed Master Social Worker involved analyzing and solving problems on an individual level, a small group level and on a larger, community scale. I utilize skills such as problem identification, communication, mediation and consensus building on a daily basis. I am accustomed to working with diverse groups and utilizing a variety of resources to solve problems.

I've been active in the community on my own and through the Dunkirk Teachers' Association: baking cookies for Dunkirk senior citizens, volunteering at the Friendly Kitchen, helping to distribute school supplies and warm winter clothing to needy students, coordinating holiday gifts for needy families, providing for fundraisers at my church, and joining the Friends of the Dunkirk Free Library are some of the activities I've been involved with over the past few years alone.

My husband and I are proud, 17-year home owners and taxpayers. We've made the choice to stay in Dunkirk and in doing so, are committed to making it a better community. In addition, I'm not a member of either major political party in the city. I am an independent thinker and would have the best interests of the city and its taxpayers at the heart of my decisions.

3. I believe it makes sense to explore every option in an effort to save money. Given that New York state's deficit continues to grow we're going to need to be creative and look "outside the box" as we move forward. Most people agree that they want to hold onto or even improve upon existing city services; the question always remains "How are we going to pay for it?" Having said that, obviously any shared services agreement must benefit all parties entering it or it's doomed to fail.

I feel a good starting point would be to identify common areas of purchase such as office supplies, road salt, computer equipment, etc. and see if lower prices can be obtained by purchasing in a larger quantity. As far as consolidating departments, I'd need to be convinced that it would actually save money.

The recent downsizing of Erie County town and village boards does little to decrease the spending costs in a community. I applaud Perrysburg for going further and actually looking at the numbers and impact on taxpayers if the town is dissolved. We hear over and over about the cost to taxpayers for the many layers of government in New York state with each city, town and village plowing and maintaining its own roads for example. I would like to see concerted effort at decreasing the number of governing entities as a way to manage costs and possibly provide even better services.

Stacy Szukala

1. I feel strongly that the city of Dunkirk needs to address the aging infrastructure. This is not going to be a "quick fix" as this problem has been ignored for quite some time. Making the appropriate upgrades in a timely manner, without raising taxes and fees will be a priority for me if elected to the Dunkirk city council. Being able to improve the quality of the infrastructure so that our homes, small businesses, and factories function properly thus allowing Dunkirk to remain marketable in the future.

If elected, I would take the time needed to discuss all options of budget reduction within each department, allowing more funding toward needed upgrades. It would be necessary to review every line within next year's proposed budget. I think the city should consider having an energy audit and take any recommended advice or ideas of how to cut costs for the city. Aiding in the research for possible grant money to help with this project would also be a priority.

Being able to openly communicate with current officials and any newly elected council members to make the difficult, yet necessary steps to cut costs and improve the city infrastructure is what I feel is the biggest problem facing Dunkirk.

2. I think voters should vote for me because I have the time and energy needed to perform the duties as a city council member. As a stay-at-home mom, my availability is extremely flexible. This will allow more time to talk with residents about their concerns, thus leading to a prompt solution. I have chosen to stay in my home town to raise my family.

I want to become an instrumental part of the decision-making team, bettering the community for my family and every family in Dunkirk. Teaching my children by example is the best teaching method I know. I would like to give back to the community so that my children will someday do the same.

I do NOT promise to change the world, I do promise to listen to the concerns of the residents and continue to ask questions until we receive the answers we are looking for and the results we deserve.

3. Consolidation and change are issues that many residents struggle with. Allowing for public input through this process is essential. This is an extremely important area to look at when trying to save tax dollars. I feel that sharing services with another community is a great way to reduce costs.

Some areas of consolidation that are already being researched, such as first responders, should continue. I feel that working out the logistics of shared buildings and personnel would be needed. Knowing the exact amount of money being saved by participating communities would need to be considered along with the pros and cons of shared services or buildings.

One area in which I feel should be looked at is garbage removal and recycling. If elected, I would like to review this area of the budget and compare the cost to other communities that contract this service out. I would not eliminate the personnel, rather move them to different departments that could use the extra help.

Since the proposed elimination of the animal control portion of the budget has become an issue, I feel this could be another area that we could possibly share services with Pomfret or Fredonia. Lastly, sharing equipment used within the parks and streets departments is a way to cut costs. Routine maintenance and new purchases would be absorbed by participating communities instead of Dunkirk solely.

 
 

 

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