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Questionnaires: Jay candidates face off in 3 contested races

In the town of Jay, three candidates are running for town supervisor, five people are running to fill two town council seats and two candidates are running for town clerk. Tax collector candidate Lori Ducharme and highway superintendent candidate Kevin Lincoln are running unopposed.

Supervisor candidates on the ballot are Matthew Stanley and Garth Rogers. Interim Supervisor Thomas McDonald is running as a write-in candidate.

The five candidates running for town council are Olivia Dwyer, Wayne Frederick, Steve Forbes, Jody Hart and incumbent Knut Sauer.

The town clerk candidates are incumbent Carol Greenley-Hackel and Tom Matuszewski.

The Lake Placid News sent questionnaires to candidates running in contested races. Below are their responses.

One candidate for town council, Wayne Frederick, and one candidate for supervisor, Garth Rogers, did not submit answers by press time.

Thomas McDonald

Age: 54

Occupation: Small business owner

Position sought: Supervisor (write-in candidate)

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I have been in the construction business a long time and the reason I have been is due to the fact that I like fixing things and getting things done that need to get done. I am running for town of Jay supervisor as a WRITE-IN CANDIDATE to get things done. Some of the things we are in the process of getting accomplished are:

– New roof on the highway garage

– Repair roof on the community center

– Refurbishment of the AuSable Forks water tower

– Installation of water meters for AuSable Forks water

– Rebuild well No. 1 in the Jay water district

– River restoration project No. 3 in Upper Jay

– Flood wall in AuSable Forks

– New disinfection system for AuSable sewer system

– Purchase of two new trucks for the highway

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: For the past 18 years, I have owned and operated a business that specializes in construction, carpentry and electrical work.

For the past 16 years, I have been a town of Jay councilman sitting on committees such as auditing, water, sewer, highway and personnel. I am also the deputy supervisor and when Supervisor Archie Depo retired after 23 years of service, I stepped up and proudly accepted the challenge of becoming acting supervisor.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you pro- pose solving them?

A: The town of Jay is 224 years old and has faced many challenges over that period of time: the 1925 fire, ice jambs, floods, floods … and did I say floods? In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the town of Jay. Jay is a fantastic place just the way it is. Yes, there are things that need be fixed and taken care of, just like there was 224 years ago and just like there will be 224 years from now.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I appreciate your support on Nov. 2 and urge everyone to get out and vote. I look forward to serving you as your next supervisor.

Matthew J. Stanley

Age: 44

Occupation: New York state corrections officer

Position sought: Supervisor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: The town of Jay is where I grew up, and it is where I want to stay. I have given back to the community as a volunteer firefighter, youth sports coach and Drama Club adviser. Now, with my education, my life experience and my desire to make our town a better place, I feel I am uniquely qualified to be the next town of Jay supervisor.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering. I am currently the general manager of Santa’s Workshop, on a part-time basis. In order to better manage the business, I have taken several classes on management and accounting. I feel having grown up in the town of Jay, working and managing a business in tourism, and the time I have spent attending local, county and state meetings make me uniquely qualified for the position of town supervisor.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: I plan to make our town government more transparent and have open communications with our residents and employees, plus:

– Be a voice for the town of Jay at the town, county and state levels;

– Support business growth;

– Continue to expand high-speed internet; and

– Be proactive, not reactive.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: The town of Jay has not been as open with communications as it should be. I plan on being more transparent with our residents and having open communication between the supervisor, the board, and our constituents. I will accomplish this by involving the townspeople with information before, during, and after board meetings, through weekly supervisor updates and quarterly newsletters, and being active in the community by attending meetings and events.

The town of Jay has not had a sitting member on the Essex County Board of Supervisors since the retirement of the former supervisor in August. I will be very vocal for the town of Jay at the county, state, and federal levels of government. I will actively listen, ask questions, and make recommendations on behalf of our town. I will seek to be on committees at the county level, encourage meetings with our state and federal representatives, and join local, state, and national associations.

The town of Jay has been running year to year, budget to budget putting out fires as they arise. I plan on being proactive, not reactive. I would like to have regular disaster preparedness committee meetings, build a multi-year financial plan (i.e. equipment replacement, building upgrades, etc.), and a plan to obtain and retain quality employees.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I will leave you with this answer to this question I have been getting the most while campaigning: Why should it matter that you are a native resident?

It matters because I grew up in the town of Jay and understand the struggle of raising a family here. Having lived away from the town of Jay for a few years, I also understand why it is attractive to move here. Here lies the problem, one group is here because they want to be, the other group is here because they have to be. As an elected official, it is our job to understand and serve both. That is one of the reasons I am uniquely qualified to be your next town of Jay supervisor.

Carol Greenley-Hackel

Age: 59

Occupation: Clerk to the town of Jay supervisor and deputy town clerk

Position sought: Town clerk

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I feel that I am uniquely qualified for this position as not only have I been the deputy for 16 years, but I have worked within the town as clerk to the assessor, water and sewer billing clerk, registrar of vital statistics, office clerk and confidential clerk to the supervisor. Working in all of these capacities has given me great oversight of the workings of the town, it’s people and their needs. I plan to use this knowledge to ensure superior care and service to the residents of the town.

I bring experience and a history of community service to the position. I hope to continue, expand and improve on multiple ongoing projects such as the food pantry and the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas drives.

Q: What are your goals?

A: I am currently in the process of moving the town clerk’s office into a bigger space, which will allow for better accessibility and a more comfortable setting for residents visiting the office. This move also opens up the opportunity to create a more secure and organized setting for valuable and confidential town records by utilizing the old town clerk’s office space for storage and filing of these records.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: In closing, I ask for your support on Nov. 2 when you cast your vote. You can find me on the Republican line as well as the Independent Line under the “We Can Do It” party. Together, we can accomplish great things!

Tom Matuszewski

Age: 62

Occupation: Retired

Position sought: Town clerk

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: My name is Tom Matuszewski, but most people call me Tommy Mats. I just had my 62nd birthday in August. I’ve been coming up to the Jay/Willmington area for close to 55 years and have settled in the hamlet of Jay. I am running for the town of Jay town clerk’s position. Retired at 57 years of age, I now realize it was too soon.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: Qualifications are as follows:

– Owner operator of my own trucking company age 21

– Arby’s restaurant manager high volume store with 26 employees, age 24.

– U.S. Postal Service tractor trailer driver for 31 years.

– Co-employment with the USPS, shop steward, director of Motor Vehicle American Postal Workers Union, then vice president of the Greater Hicksville APWU. At the same time, I was director of research and education for NYS APWU for six years and treasurer for NYS APWU for seven years until my retirement. I also worked for Sachem Central Schools, where I was in charge of security for a junior high school in that district.

In my tenure with the APWU, I had taken many classes in QuickBooks accounting programs and Microsoft Excel, which were used on a daily basis. I was in charge of handling all audits from the IRS, Workers Compensation and Department of Labor. This included payroll and Department of Labor management reports. As a union delegate, I was the first person membership would see for many problems from work, personal or domestic issues that had to be held in strict confidence.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: My main goals as town clerk are to help the residents of Jay (clerk responsibilities and more), keep a orderly office and to help the incoming supervisor and staff when needed.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: My wife and I settled in Jay over five years ago, and we became quickly involved. We have volunteered at Christmastime to help with the street lighting (changing bulbs and re-stringing lights) and help shopping for underprivileged children in the town. As a furniture builder, I have made some of the facades for Halloween that took place in the gymnasium, volunteered time in helping rebuilding the children’s park on Randy’s Lane, and I am a frequent at many of the Jay town board meetings and have attended many Ausable River Association meetings. I asked my wife to marry me at mid station on Whiteface Mountain, and we bought a home in Jay. I feel I can offer a ton, even though the town clerks position is only two days a week.

Let’s not make this year’s election by party line or by popularity. Let’s vote the most qualified candidates in. Let our resumes speak for itself. Let’s move Jay forward.

Olivia Dwyer

Age: 36

Occupation: I am a program navigator for the Adirondack North Country Association’s Center for Pandemic Response, where I connect business owners with services to help them recover from COVID’s economic impact and build resiliency for future challenges.

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: To serve and strengthen the town of Jay. I was born and raised in the Adirondacks, and my husband and I moved to Upper Jay in 2017. I want to give back to the community where we live, work and play.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I earned a degree in natural resources management from Cornell University. I was a journalist for 10 years, reporting on outdoor recreation, tourism, and the environmental, economic, and social issues that face rural communities. I have worked as a cleaner, restaurant server, and ski area ticket seller, learning customer service and attention to detail. And as a foster care caseworker for Essex County, I supported families facing social, financial, and emotional difficulties. I also volunteer at the Wilmington/Jay Food Shelf.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: 1) Participate in frequent, transparent communication to build trust between residents and the town council.

2) Develop a strategic plan that identifies town goals for the next 10 years, and bring town elected officials and community members together to identify solutions and steps to implement them.

3) Connect with local and regional recreation groups to promote Jay’s outdoor activities.

4) Partner with county, state, and federal agencies to identify resources to support investments in public services, such as water infrastructure, and community assets like our parks and downtown AuSable Forks.

5) Continue to collaborate with the Ausable River Association to rejuvenate our ecosystem while improving flood preparedness, and seek flooding for a flood wall in downtown AuSable Forks to protect the business district.

6) Build a welcoming community where everyone feels they belong.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: The town website does not provide email addresses or phone numbers for council members. The solution is to assign a phone extension and town email to each council member to ensure there is a reliable method for Jay residents and visitors to voice questions and concerns.

Jay needs a strategic plan to create a road map for the town’s future. The first step is a community survey to identify key areas of concern; for example, affordable housing, child care, emergency preparedness, or other topics. Next, community members volunteer for working groups that develop long-term plans to meet these needs. The town council uses these recommendations to finalize a plan that allows a community-driven vision to shape our future, and remains in place regardless of personnel changes in elected offices.

Voters want town government to support existing businesses and use their success as momentum to attract new businesses to our area, specifically downtown AuSable Forks. This means the town needs to partner with the AuSable River Valley Business Association to ensure members continue to succeed, and apply for regional and state funding to revitalize the downtown corridor and put infrastructure from parking to broadband in place for businesses to thrive.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: Please reach out with questions or ideas at facebook.com/dwyerforjay or dwyerforjay@gmail.com.

Stephen Forbes

Age: 53

Occupation: Self-employed

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: My No. 1 goal is to help bring the town council together, and have open communication and cooperation between ALL members of the council, no matter their political party.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have 12 years experience in the family’s excavating business, giving me extensive knowledge in equipment operating, maintenance and replacement. I started my own business in 1998 which has been running strong for the past 23 years. I have first-hand knowledge of and experience with budgeting, managing expenditures, bid processes, and what is needed to get the job done in a timely manner. Finally, I have been working with a local water company since the mid 1990s, and as water plant operator since 1999. This position has given me vast knowledge in water plant operations and maintenance. I feel that all of these make me a well-suited candidate for town of Jay council, as I understand the complexity of these departments and the importance of keeping budgets in check.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: Again, I feel that open communication between ALL members of the council, as well as all employees and residents is key to a successful town board.

I would also like to work closely with the town of Jay DPW to see what is needed for employee retention and longevity, such as competitive wages and benefits packages that meet today’s ever-changing economy.

Q: What do you think are three biggest problems in the town, and how do you plan to address them?

A: As I previously stated, communication between town council members and their willingness to work together are one of the main issues I hope to help correct, it is imperative for any work to get done. Employee retention is another issue in the town of Jay and has been for quite some time. We cannot afford to lose any of our hard working and much appreciated employees. I hope to help ensure they are compensated fairly and have an enjoyable work environment to promote longevity among the existing employees, while also making the town of Jay a desirable place for new employees to apply to. I also feel the town is lacking broadband coverage. While campaigning many residents have expressed how hard it is to work from home or for kids to do school work due to the inefficient or lack of proper broadband. I would like to encourage our town council to work with local providers to see what can be done to extend coverage in the town of Jay, including Upper Jay and AuSable Forks.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: In closing, I would like to remind our voters that change cannot be accomplished by one person alone it takes cooperation and willingness of the council to work together to get it done. If elected I will do my best to work for you, the people of Jay. With that being said, I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 2.

Jody Hart

Age: 50

Occupation: Manager of animal technical services at Trudeau Institute for 18-plus years

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I feel there is a need to bring some fresh ideas and attitudes to the board. There needs to be council people who support an environment of mutual respect and working together towards common goals, something I see lacking. I think we need to improve the working relationship with neighboring towns, specifically Black Brook since we share a hamlet and business district. I also feel that we need to improve the resident’s perception of the board and foster a sense of trust. All three hamlets need to feel that they are being represented equally and fairly. These are all things that I feel I can successfully accomplish.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: My professional life has given me a wide array of experience in program management, personnel management, regulatory compliance, grant funding and budgeting, all important to running the business part of town. I have served on various community organizations including Junior League of Kingston, Parish Council of Holy Name Church and later as a trustee, the AuSable Forks Ambulance as an EMT and the AuSable Forks Fire Department Auxiliary. I also had the honor to serve as a town of Jay representative on the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program for the towns of Jay and Keene which was created to address the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene. I regularly attend and participate in town activities and meetings. My professional experience, coupled with my personal history of community service make me an excellent candidate for the position

Q: What are your main goals?

A: In addition to the reasons I gave for why I’m running, my goals include:

1. Continuing with the river project/finding funding alternatives

2. Evaluating salaries/benefits for town employees

3. In-dept budget evaluation

4. Creating a board that the community trusts and respects

5. Modernizing procedures for the board and public

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: 1. Lack of accountability/transparency by the board — I would make sure that no matter what decision is made the board provides the public with the reasons for the decision and that the board (as a whole) takes responsibility no matter what the outcome or criticism. If the board tasks another town official/employee with a duty the board needs to support that person 100%.

2. Lack of respect between board members and between the board and the public — no matter what a person’s position is on an issue they deserve to be heard and respected for their opinion. We all bring different thoughts, ideas and backgrounds to the board and no one person is more valuable than another. We need to learn to respectfully “agree to disagree” and move on, even if it’s a plan we don’t agree with. We also need to respect the opinions of the taxpayers, because that is who we are there to represent, not our own personal interests or agendas.

3. The biggest complaint I hear from residents is about our taxes — I can’t promise to reduce taxes but I will do my best to scrutinize the budget to make sure the tax money is being spent wisely and in a way that benefits the town and its taxpayers the best. No one wants to see services cut, so I think we have some work ahead of us in trying to keep (or even increase) services while keeping the taxes manageable. I think if the board can show that we are doing just that and if we are open and honest with the taxpayers, we will have their support.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: As an Independent candidate, running under the party line “Common Good,” (Line E) I will be a fair and unbiased candidate who can truly represent my constituents and make decisions based on the good of the town, without being beholden to a mainstream political party. I will vote based on what I feel is best for the town and what the people who have elected me support. My priority will always be to do what is best for the town and its residents.

Knut Sauer

Age: 54

Occupation: International sales and marketing

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: The town of Jay was allowed to fall by the wayside, overlooked, taxes kept increasing while services declined, and economic development and infrastructure was deteriorating. I was elected to an unexpired two-year term and went to work right away. Now there is a new more positive attitude among residents, there is optimism, things are starting to happen, and Jay is back on the map. The wheels are in motion, but we got a lot of catch up to do and we can’t stop now, which is why I am committed to the town and seeking a four-year term to ensure we keep the wheels rolling and capitalize on all the opportunities and revitalize our beautiful, quaint town.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have 26 years in sales and marketing managing an international sales team of 12. Strong leadership and management skills, with a very strong financial and budget acumen and extensive planning and project management experience. High energy, dedication, hands on approach, and a drive for transparency and accountability. I am the current incumbent with the experience to provide the necessary support to the new incoming supervisor.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: Economic development revitalize the town of Jay, and quality of life improvements, while containing property taxes. Put Jay back on the map as a great town to live in whether you are starting or raising a family, mid-career, or looking to retire.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: Lack of long-term strategic and economic planning, including lack of infrastructure and capital equipment and maintenance planning. Re-assemble the Jay Task Force and capitalize on our great community members and allow them to be part of a strategic planning process to help steer the town of Jay in the right direction.

Capitalize on growing tourism, while at the same time find a good balance for full-time residents and provide affordable housing, capitalizing on our town’s ideal location between Lake Placid and Plattsburgh, while preserving our slower-paced, friendly atmosphere, and beautiful natural setting. As a founding member of the AuSable River Valley Business Association, I like to liaise the town board with the Association and our many businesses in town, as well as work more closely with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. We need to re-develop/invest in our main street.

We need to aggressively pursue grants and other non-property tax revenue and explore options and ideas to broaden our tax base, not increase or property taxes to keep up with costs and infrastructure improvements, as well as quality of life improvements like parks and recreation.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: Highly dedicated to the community with a proven track record of community service, on the Parks Committee, as vice president of the AuSable Acres Property Owners Association, and a very active community volunteer with the local Rotary Club, North Country SPCA, Olympic Regional Development Authority and New York Ski Educational Foundation, and founding member of the AuSable River Valley Business Association.

The wheels are in motion. Let us keep them rolling and reelect Knut Sauer.