By Jann Wiswall
Both candidates for Town of Ellicottville Supervisor, John Burrell and Matt McAndrew, recently sat down for interviews with the Ellicottville Times. Both were asked similar questions about their reasons for running, their qualifications, how their work experience lends itself to town governance, their views about opportunities and challenges that face the town in the near- and long-term future, how they expect to approach the job and why you should vote for them.
John A. Burrell
John Burrell has served as town supervisor for the past eight years and is seeking another term. He has served as mayor of the village, as a volunteer firefighter for 51 years and an ambulance driver for 41 years. He worked in his family’s Burrell Cutlery business until it closed in 2006, and with J. D. Northrup Construction, Inc.
On experience and qualifications: Burrell points to his decades of experience serving the Ellicottville community. “Under my leadership over the past eight years, the town has seen many accomplishments, including the new Highway Department facility, the East Tank project and the Holiday Valley Road project. Long-term debt has been reduced. The town budget is healthy. I’ve worked well with seven different board members and we have accomplished many positive things. I expect many new accomplishments with my continued leadership over the next four years.”
On opportunities and challenges: “With pressures from the state to not increase property taxes, we need to continue to be very fiscally responsible,” Burrell said. “We have worked hard to ensure we have the capital reserves we need in the town budget to be able to plan for the unexpected. We don’t have the pressure that some of our neighboring communities have, but we do need to pay attention to that at all times, because new challenges come up all the time without warning.”
Burrell said he thinks there will be “opportunities for more careful prioritizing, budgeting and planning for the highway department, which represents a third of the entire town budget.”
“The board, highway superintendent and I are working toward creating a five-year highway repair plan and are budgeting for equipment and materials that will allow us to maintain our roads without hiring outside contractors. This will save taxpayers money and we’ll be able to share those resources with other municipalities.”
“Of course,” he said, “it gets harder every year as costs continue to escalate. So we’ll always have to work harder to maintain what we have and get what we need.”
On sharing municipal services: Because of state mandates to look at ways to consolidate services, “this will be a critical focus for the next several years,” Burrell said. “I have met with county legislators to talk about what Ellicottville and the county can do together. I think we also have many opportunities to work with other municipalities to consolidate activities, programs and departments and to work together for the good of our region as a whole.”
On doing the job: “When I worked full time, I was in the supervisor’s office one day a week and worked evenings and weekends, as well. It was doable, but I really think that the Ellicottville town supervisor position is closer to a full-time job now. In fact, the board resolved recently that the standard work day for the town supervisor is six hours, five days a week.”
On why people should vote: “If people have been happy with the town government for the last eight years, I hope they’ll vote for another four years of government effectiveness.”
Matthew J. McAndrew
Matt McAndrew has worked in the Department of Public Works with Cattaraugus County for 36 years and currently holds the supervisory position of Chief Engineering Technician. He served for nine years as chairman of the Village of Ellicottville Zoning Board of Appeals. He is running for his first term as town supervisor.
On experience and qualifications: “My work with the county and on the Village ZBA has prepared me to serve as town supervisor.” He also points to the fact that he was born and raised and still lives in Ellicottville and knows the community very well. “I think I can be an asset,” he said.
“My work with the county has given me extensive project management, budgeting and supervisory experience, while working on road, landfill, bridge, permitting and other highway projects. I have worked with many towns around the county, including Delevan and Humphrey. I have been on the negotiating team for the supervisory union. So I have the background to manage municipal issues.”
On opportunities and challenges: “Ellicottville is a resort town and we’re banking on Holiday Valley and HoliMont to survive. Right now, we have a great property tax base and are getting strong revenues from sales taxes and bed taxes. So we’re in good shape as long as the economy is good.
“But Ellicottville is seeing a lot of residential development and there is a lot of property for sale. Lots of developments are not filled. Do we want to allow that to continue? Are we over building?” he asked.
“I think we want to get more industrial businesses here to give us a balance. The town could do more to promote industry and businesses coming here. I’d look to the county planning board for guidance. And Springville has had some success growing industry. Maybe there are some ideas they could share.”
On sharing municipal services: “Sharing services with other municipalities and the county gives us the opportunity to save money,” McAndrew said. “Ellicottville’s highway department has not asked the county DPW for much help, but there’s equipment that the county can loan to municipalities. So does the Department of Environmental Conservation. I think this would be a good use of available resources.”
On doing the job: McAndrew has no concerns about having time for the town supervisor position, pointing out that many towns have supervisors who work full-time at other jobs.
“I work from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., so have afternoons free, and I have a lot of vacation time and a flexible schedule. I would have regular office hours at the town hall and can easily take leave time when I need to attend a meeting during county work hours.”
McAndrew said he’s “not interested in changing things right away. Things are done for a reason, and I have to know those reasons. The town board members are all good people. They have the history and experience. I’ll listen to them to understand how and why things were done.”
On why people should vote: “People should vote for what they want to see in the future. I am passionate about the town, I care about its future and I want to have a voice.”