Lakewood Trustee Candidates – A Comparison

This election day, Lakewood voters will have a choice of candidates from all walks of life. A side-by-side comparison of all the palm cards candidates are leaving at residents’ front doors reveals several professionals, and several retired candidates. The cards tend to state how long the candidate has lived in the community. Suffice to say, there is no competition here, they all have lived in the community many years. Two have raised families in Lakewood. Others have never married, and have no children. Voters’ greatest decision come election day will be which candidates will lead the community in the best possible manner over the next four years. There are two Trustee seats contested, and a race for Mayor as well.

The choices are not along party lines because there is only one democratic candidate running and the rest are all registered republicans.  So forget voting depending on your own chosen party for this important election. These are all real people who may or may not align with your national political thinking, but who would make excellent local public servants. All names are placed on the ballot on both the top line, as well as the second line. Therefore, the choice for citizens is more about who is more qualified, and who will lead all of the people of the village, rather than which party will remain in control. No matter who is elected, republicans will remain the majority of the Lakewood board going forward.

At first glance, voters ought to seek out the public service experience each candidate brings to the table. One slate of candidates (Barnes, Holcomb, Fischer) has two incumbents seeking re-election, one for Trustee, the other for Mayor, as well as a newcomer. The other slate (McCague, Shedd, Yaggie) brings the Deputy Mayor, seeking election to the position he has fulfilled for nearly 15 months, as well as a Planning Board member, and a newcomer. Therefore voters have three current Trustee candidates with lots of experience working for Lakewood, one candidate working on the Planning Board, and two who have not held a position within Lakewood’s government.

Among the candidates for Trustee, those who are already in service for the village are: First term Trustee, part time dispatcher for the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, and retired Part Time Lakewood Busti Police Officer, Ellen Barnes; and John Shedd, who is currently a member of the Lakewood Planning Board–a volunteer position, who is a licensed architect and planner, and is currently the Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations at the Chautauqua Institution.  Shedd’s professional responsibilities include all Chautauqua Institution development projects, oversight of building construction, roads, grounds and overall campus maintenance, community docks and waterfront environments, as well as the Chautauqua Police Department.  Shedd also has a list of numerous professional accomplishments and Lakewood and Chautauqua County volunteer leadership roles.

According to his palm card, John Shedd volunteers on numerous committees including: the Chautauqua Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District Committee; he was appointed to the Governor’s steering committee for Chautauqua Lake Harmful Algal Blooms Action Plan; he is a contributor to the Chautauqua County Design Principles Guidebook; he was past Chairman, Lakewood Community Development Corporation, a local non-profit; he was Chairman of the community organization, “Citizens in Betterment of Lakewood” which led the revitalization of Chautauqua Avenue; he is the Business Division Leader for the United Way of Chautauqua County; he is a member of the Board of Directors for the Jamestown Audubon Society; he has also volunteered as coach for Youth T-ball, soccer, and basketball and is also a leader in the local Cub scouts. Shedd and his wife have two children attending Southwestern schools.

According to her palm card, Ellen Barnes spent many years as a DARE program teacher at SWCS as part of her duties at the Lakewood Busti PD, she calls Lakewood her “adopted home town,” and she is a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  No volunteer community service is noted on her palm card.

Those candidates who would be new to public service are: Rich Fischer, and Jay Yaggie. Fischer is a retired Jamestown Alltel/Windstream employee, who worked at the Robert H. Jackson Center, and is currently working as an information Specialist for the Chautauqua County Visitor’s Bureau. Fischer is married and has two grown children. No volunteer community service was noted on his palm card.  Jay Yaggie, is a licensed engineer, and Cornell University graduate who is currently working in his professional field as Chief Technologist for Perspecta, a management and IT consulting firm supporting Local, State, and Federal Agencies.

According to his palm card, Jay Yaggie brings 30 years of professional experience working with government at all levels and sizes to assess goals and build strategic plans.  Yaggie has worked for several Fortune 100 companies as a management consultant and process engineer.  He served his community volunteering as: Treasurer and Board Member at the Southwestern Schools Education Foundation, the organization which was instrumental to fundraising for the capital improvements at Southwestern Schools; he has served as Vice Chairperson of the Chautauqua Striders Board of Directors and continues to volunteer as an active mentor to students; he also served as President of Southwestern Area Sports Youth Baseball, as well as coach. Yaggie lives with his wife, has a son in college, and is a member at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Protect Taxpayers or Protect Fund Balance? A Question for Town of Busti Voters

Property taxes in the Town of Busti from 2012 to 2019 have shot up over 70%, more than 6% per year on average. A major reason for the large Town property tax increases over the past seven years has been the management of the Town’s Unappropriated Fund Balance often referred to as “rainy day funds.” It appears the Supervisor and most Town Board members feel protecting the Fund Balance is more important than protecting Town of Busti taxpayers from high property taxes.

Property taxes in the Town of Busti* from 2012 to 2019 have shot up over 70%, from $695,673 to $1,193,318, more than 6% per year on average. Meanwhile, Appropriations in the same period climbed 22%, from $2,499,683 to $3,052,541, or 3% per year on average. The large tax increases were far over the 2% tax cap most years and fell on all Town taxpayers, but the heaviest burden landed on those outside the Village.

Only in 2017 did Town taxpayers not face higher Town property taxes when Councilman Mueller’s budget amendments in late 2016 passed the Town Board and delivered no overall Town tax increase. Since that time Councilman Mueller opposed the 2018 and 2019 budgets because they raised property taxes, directly or indirectly**, over the tax cap. Continue reading “Protect Taxpayers or Protect Fund Balance? A Question for Town of Busti Voters”

Tax Rate Decreases in Lakewood’s Proposed Budget

Lakewood, NY’s tax rate decreases 8 cents per thousand in the proposed 2019-2020 tentative budget.

Village of Lakewood Deputy Mayor, Ted McCague, acting as Chief Budget
Officer, has filed the 2019-2020 tentative budget with the Village Clerk. The proposal recommends a tax rate of $7.91094 per thousand as compared to the present tax rate of $7.992758 per thousand which is a decrease of 8 cents per thousand. Continue reading “Tax Rate Decreases in Lakewood’s Proposed Budget”

Tinkering or Leadership

The Post Journal editor’s opinion column on February 19, 2019 took a shot at the Village of Lakewood again. In reality, the Village of Lakewood has an award-winning comprehensive plan that some of the village leaders are working tirelessly to implement. Read the rest of the story here in LakewoodNY Matters.

Once again Lakewood made the Post Journal editor’s opinion column.
The topic, yet another negative spin on projects undertaken in Lakewood and another negative shot at the work being done by the Chautauqua Alliance to address both lake issues and economic development in the area. Continue reading “Tinkering or Leadership”

Conservation Statement for Chautauqua Lake

Representatives of several area organizations and scientists, all concerned with the health of Chautauqua Lake, recently compiled a statement of the issues surrounding the lake’s health and condition. Chautauqua Lake’s watershed was the central focus. Utilizing a sustainable, science-based approach to lake management, opinions, ideas, and strategies were woven together to form this Conservation Statement for Chautauqua Lake

. Continue reading “Conservation Statement for Chautauqua Lake”