GENESEO – The GeneseeSun.com offered the floor to the five candidates for Geneseo Village Trustee this week with five basic questions about themselves and their candidacies.
Candidates Leslie Carson (R), Matthew Cook (I), Phil Jones (D), Mary Rutigliano (I), and Bob Wilcox (D) all gave the following answers to the following questions in anticipation of the March 15 election.
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Why do you want to serve as Geneseo Village Trustee?
Carson: I have been a resident and reaped the benefits that the Village of Geneseo has to offer for over 25 years. From the summer recreation program, parks and libraries, to the education and traditions that embody this community. It is my time to give back to the village that has largely impacted who I am today. I want to ensure our children are granted the same opportunities in the future.
Cook: I feel that there is a disconnect between the village and the college. There is essentially a wall on Main Street that separates the two entities and I am very sure that this situation is completely amendable. The people of this village love the college and the students that are their neighbors and their friends; and I want them to know that they are loved back by the students. I want to give back to the place that I have been lucky enough to call home for the past three years and that I plan to serve for many more.
Jones: I have had the pleasure to live in Geneseo for the past 37 years. This community has been good to me and has been a great place to raise a family. I am running to give back to the community and to try to contribute to making it an even better place to live and raise a family.
Rutigliano: The women at the Seneca Falls Convention noted that democracy couldn’t work if only a fraction of constituents had representation. According to the census.gov 2014 estimate, approximately 8,114 people live in the village, but not counted in this estimate are students, of which there are around 5,600. Together, these populations total 13,714. This means that in our local government, 40.8% of our community is not represented. Because I am a student and a life-long village resident, I am in a unique position to serve our community. This is my home, and my college.
Wilcox: As a 39 year resident I have enjoyed the many benefits of living here. I love the community and the college and now that I am retired I have been able to give back.
Why are you the best candidate?
Carson: Being a resident and SUNY Geneseo alumni who intends to stay and raise my family here, I have a different perspective that can be of service to the entire community. As a taxpayer myself, I will ensure the best for all community members. The skills I use in my profession as a registered nurse will allow me to be an effective trustee. As a nurse I constantly use critical thinking skills, while dealing with complex issues in an ever-changing, time sensitive environment. I evaluate with evidence-based practice and am outcome oriented. I will employ the same approach to my duties as a Geneseo Village Trustee.
Cook: I believe I am the best candidate because of the experience I have as both a member of this community and this college. I have been active in the village all throughout my time here through community service and philanthropy. I am able to best represent the students that call Geneseo home and also listen to and represent those in the community that love this village and wish the best for their peers.
Jones: I offer the voters a wealth of experience that comes from working 30 years for the Gunlocke Company but also 15 years of working in Public Mental Health in New York, Michigan, and Illinois. My last fifteen years at Gunlocke was focused on government contracts and government sales. I know how government works and where it doesn’t. I have served on Boards and know what it takes to be a good Board member. I have excellent listening skills and know how to compromise in order to get to the common good.
Being a good Trustee involves having and making the time to be knowledgeable and thoughtful on the various issues that face the Village. It is a lot more than just showing up at meetings. I am retired and have the time necessary to be a responsible and effective Trustee.
Rutigliano: I provide a unique viewpoint, one that our community could very much benefit from. I have strong ties to the village, while being an active member of the SUNY Geneseo student body. I have been employed at Wegmans for four years, making me familiar with business and customer service practices. As a student, I am constantly being challenged to think critically and accept other’s viewpoints. Representation of our whole community is crucial, and I am able to see issues from both sides of Main Street. Furthermore, my position as an independent candidate allows us to see issues on a local level, without the traditional divisions that national parties can bring.
Wilcox: My background is unique because I have many years experience as a college administrator, small business owner and as a corporate executive. Further, I have experienced two terms as a Trustee. I work hard and stay in touch with village residents and students as well. I have served as board liaison to Police and Fire Departments as well as the Water and Sewer Department. I have chaired and/or co-chaired Tourism and Promotion and the Healthy College Community Coalition for several years.
What do you think are the Village’s greatest strengths?
Carson: The sense of community is one of the Village’s greatest strengths. There is a feeling that everyone knows one other, and we are there to help each other. In trying times we have united as a community and lifted those up in need. There is a rich history and sense of tradition that makes our village very unique as well. There’s an appeal here that makes it a great place to raise your family, pursue education and retire.
Cook: The biggest strength of the village is the wonderful citizens who live here. The community feeling in Geneseo is what drove me to make it my home, as well as what drives me to run for the position of Village Trustee. The people of this community have been instrumental in providing for the village, and I would like to see a platform for students to give back as well.
Jones: The people. This community is filled with people who care about their neighbor, the community and the world beyond. People who support all the various organizations, support groups, and churches in this community are what make this village a great place to live. Geneseo has a rich history that adds to the texture of life here. The college and its students offer diversity and opportunities not found in a lot of small towns. The Geneseo Central School is certainly a strength of the community and offers a quality education to all who attend. We have much to be thankful for in Geneseo.
Rutigliano: Our greatest strength is the love that people have for this community, on both sides of Main Street. I see committed residents enriching our village through their time, energy and donations. Students who get a chance to see our nurturing, tight-knit community begin to love it themselves. We have the gift of learned, motivated, and kind people, from all over New York State and the world who have the best interest of our village at heart.
Wilcox: The greatest strength is in the people and the community generosity in support of activities such as Fire and Ambulance services, churches, tourism, APOG, museums, library, galleries, StringBand, Festival Chorus, Community Players, youth programs, Senior Citizen programs to mention just a few. We have good government but the level of volunteerism is what makes this an exceptional community.
What do you think are the Village’s most pressing issues?
Carson: Ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the village residents, students and visitors is a priority. Also, the village infrastructure has come to the forefront and will remain an issue to be addressed for years to come. While working within a budget, it is imperative to keep costs down while providing services that are essential to our community and the well-deserved taxpayers residing on those village streets.
Cook: I believe the biggest problem that is facing the village today is that people are not seeing a return on the investment of their taxes. Through canvassing and talking with people of the village, fiscal responsibility is an issue that needs to be addressed and I believe that my commitment to being transparent and responsible with funds will put a lot of residents at ease. Our first duty as members of the board is to the people that we serve, so they should have a large input on what is going on in their village and many of them do not feel that this is currently the case. I would love the opportunity to change that.
Jones: I think the most pressing issue facing all municipalities in New York State is: How do you maintain the services and quality of life in the village and maintain taxes at a level that will keep our residents from fleeing the village and not be an obstacle to people wanting to move into the village. I strongly believe that there needs to be a continual review by all levels of government to look for more efficient ways to deliver services.
Clearly, facilitating a vibrant and healthy Main Street is always going to be critical to Geneseo.
Relationship with the college and its students is another important issue.
Rutigliano: Fostering a more nurturing, inclusive college/village relationship is certainly pressing. We need each other. College students benefit from our grounded local community as they build their individual careers with a sense of the common good. The village enjoys the pivotal economic contributions of the students, while being energized by their youthful optimism. When we decide to have productive, inclusive dialogues, the One Geneseo that we build upon will become a national model for town/gown collaboration.
Wilcox: Maintaining a high level of service which citizens deserve and expect while keeping taxes in check. We are most fortunate to have capable staff at every level who constantly work to improve our lives while working with very limited resources.
What should voters know about you heading into the election?
Carson: I do not have a personal agenda going into this election. I am transparent and reachable. I want to do what is best for the community in its entirety because this is my home as well. I have the required skills, and I’m running with genuine intentions that will be advantageous to everyone in the village.
Cook: While I have only spent a short time in my life in Geneseo, I am completely committed to this community and I am very thankful for the privilege to call it my home. This village deserves nothing short of the best and I am very confident that I will be able to deliver for the people of this unique and historic village.
Jones: • I care about the Village of Geneseo.
• I don’t have an axe to grind or a hidden agenda and I’m honest
• I bring a lot of experience and have the time to use my skills and experience to work for the common good of Geneseo.
Rutigliano: I am throwing myself into this process. I have canvassed and will continue to do so to fully understand the issues that are important to constituents. Additionally, I’ve been acquainting myself with the budget, taxes and the water reports as well. As legislation is a constant learning process, I am willing to meet and listen to anyone and everyone.
Wilcox: They should know that above and beyond my education and experience, I work hard all the time to represent everyone to the best of my ability. We may not always agree but I am always available to hear from residents.