EVL Voters Approve Highway Supt. Appointment Proposal

By Jann Wiswall

The mood was amicable and non-partisan at the annual Election Day Dinner at the United Church of Ellicottville on Tuesday, Nov. 4 as hundreds of friends, families and neighbors dined on delicious turkey with all the fixings. As is typical of this event, nary a political conversation was overheard all evening.

But, as evidenced by lines at many area polling places, especially in Ellicottville, voting was brisk for a mid-term election where, in addition to statewide and congressional races, voters were asked to vote for or against a proposal to change the elected position of Ellicottville highway superintendent to an appointed one.

By a vote of 249-217, voters approved the change, which means that the town board will go through the job application process to appoint a qualified individual for the role who will start on Jan. 1, 2016. The appointee will report directly to the town board.

Currently, the elected highway superintendent is an autonomous position — he/she works independently and does not report to anyone. The board sets the department budget (which represents 37 percent of the entire town budget), but has no control or official influence about how the budget is spent.

With an appointed position, the board can be involved in decision making about expenditures, as well as about issues, problems and solutions.

Town Supervisor John Burrell said, “I am happy that the majority of the voters trust the Town Board to appoint the most qualified applicant for the position. Our town has great roads, excellent equipment and a state-of-the-art maintenance/storage facility, which can be attributed, in large part, to the hard work that [current highway superintendent] Dave Golley has put in for more than 20 years,” he said.

When Golley’s term is up at the end of 2015, however, Burrell has been concerned about the “unknown of who might run for the position.”

“I worried about what qualifications and abilities the candidates might or might not have,” he said.

With the ability to hire the position according to the State Civil Service eligibility requirements, the board can ensure that the appointee will have the appropriate road construction and management experience.

Statewide Election Results

In the statewide elections, New York voters elected Andrew Cuomo (D) for another term as governor with Western New York’s Kathy Hochul as Lieutenant Governor. Thomas DiNapoli (D) won re-election as state comptroller and Eric Schneiderman (D) was re-elected as attorney general. In the 8th Judicial District, voters were asked to elect five State Supreme Court justices. Winners included Frederick J. Marshall, E. Jeanette Ogden, Dennis E. Ward, Paul B. Wojtaszek and Donna M. Siwek.

All three statewide proposals that were on the ballot passed.

Area voters reelected Republican Tom Reed as their congressional representative for District 23.  State Senator Catherine M. Young ran unopposed for reelection in the 57th Senate District, State Assembly Member Joseph M. Giglio ran unopposed for reelection in Assembly District 148, and Cleon W. Easton, who also ran unopposed, was elected Cattaraugus County Coroner.

In Ellicottville, town and village voters elected John T. Nelson as town justice. Nelson was running unopposed.

None of the other area municipalities surrounding Ellicottville had local elections or propositions on the ballot.