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Lakewood Residents Have An Easy Choice When Voting On Nov. 5

Lakewood residents have an easy choice on Nov. 5 as they vote for a new mayor and two positions on the Village Board.

Randall Holcomb is the endorsed Republican candidate, opposed by Ted McCague. Republicans chose to endorse Holcomb earlier this year, leading to a situation in which McCague, who is a registered Republican, is endorsed by the Democrats in the November election.

We give McCague and Doug Schutte credit for working with Holcomb and Barnes over the past year since the resignation of former Mayor Cara Birrittieri. The village could have descended into chaos over the past year; so we give credit to McCague and Schutte for their role in an orderly year in the village. Conversely, that credit extends to Barnes and Holcomb as well.

Things in Lakewood have been quiet in the past year, but village residents shouldn’t forget the mess that happened last year.

Two board members – Holcomb and Ellen Barnes — stuck up for village taxpayers when they felt the village was being asked to pay a bill for water testing that hadn’t been approved by the Village Board before the testing was done. Village residents were told time and again that a private citizen was concerned that herbicides had been applied in Lakewood even though the village — in a 3-2 vote with Holcomb and Barnes opposed — had declined to participate in herbicide treatments inside Lakewood’s boundaries. The resident requested the testing and had the bill sent to the village for payment. The Post-Journal was able to confirm through the state DEC that no herbicides had been applied within the village’s boundaries. Village residents were able to ascertain the same things with a simple phone call and at no expense to the village. Yet, the former mayor and two members of the board voted to pay the bill. Holcomb and Barnes stood up for taxpayers and said no.

The bill was for a negligible amount, but the village should not have been paying for a bill submitted by a private citizen. It is that simple. We note, too, Holcomb and Barnes attempting to work for resolution on the long-standing cell tower lawsuit between the village and Upstate Tower rather than throw good money after bad on a lengthy legal battle over a project backed by the village’s own fire department.

For those reasons alone, Holcomb deserves four years as Lakewood’s mayor, but let’s not forget that in addition to his stellar performance during the water testing fiasco that Holcomb brings years of government experience as assessor for the city of Jamestown and several area towns and villages through a shared assessing program. He understands the way budgets affect taxes, a perspective that should benefit taxpayers at budget time.

As for the trustee race, there are four candidates for two positions. Jay Yaggie and John Shedd are endorsed by the Democratic Party while Yaggie is also endorsed by the Working Families party.

Barnes, a former police officer endorsed by the Republican and Independence parties, was a particularly strong performer for the village during the water testing mess as well as her stance opposing an increase in franchise fees for Spectrum Cable because of its impact on residents have earned her another term on the board. She also sits on the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency, which will make a recommendation whether or not to ask the Chautauqua County Legislature to implement a taxing district for Chautauqua Lake.

The second contested Village Board position should go to Rich Fischer, a newcomer to politics but anything but a newcomer to Lakewood Village Board meetings. Fischer not only regularly attends board meetings, but is a regular participant who asks good and pointed questions of board members. Shedd and Yaggie are good people who do important work in the community, but Fischer is the rare citizen who regularly participates in civic meetings and then decides to run for office. Yaggie and Shedd may be attending meetings, but minutes of the meetings over the past two years doesn’t reflect participation in the meetings. Often times, Fischer makes better points than some people who have been elected to the board, and the quality of Fischer’s questions shows he has done his homework before attending a meeting. Rich Fischer would be a worthy addition to the Lakewood Village Board.

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