Renew Ellicott Group Provides Interesting Ideas
Voters in Ellicott have no doubt seen the signs calling for open government on Hunt Road and other places throughout the town.
Spurred by last summer’s out of the blue decision to eliminate the town justice position held by Marilyn Gerace, the Renew Ellicott group mobilized not only to create a petition drive that helped force the current Ellicott Town Board to reverse its decision on the judge’s position but decided to collectively run for office. Its candidates are as follows:
Todd Beckerink for Ellicott town supervisor
Adrienne Swanson for town clerk
Marilyn Gerace for town justice
James Rensel for Ward 1
David Lamantia for Ward 2
Steve Cybart for Ward 3
David McNeill for Ward 4
Kurt Gustafson for District 15 in the Chautauqua County Legislature.
Much of what they say makes sense. The group collectively wants meetings to be more open after the closed-door discussions that led to the judge position’s elimination and public outcry leading to its reinstatement. That process, as you’ll recall, is one we likened earlier this year to having an open meeting in a boat in the middle of Chautauqua Lake. It’s hard to endorse a group of incumbents that embraced such a closed governing process. It was a ham handed decision that couldn’t have been handled more poorly.
But that in and of itself isn’t enough to endorse the Renew Ellicott group for office. The rest of the group’s platform makes a lot of sense. Members want to livestream Town Board meetings and make those recordings available to the public afterward. It’s a move we have endorsed all local boards to make and are glad to see Renew Ellicott commit to implementing if members are elected..
More importantly, the group wants to be more involved with Falconer and Celoron, the two villages that lie within the town, to provide more help with projects and issues in those areas. Renew Ellicott members say they will attend village board meetings in an attempt to increase synergy between the three governments. Town Board meetings will also be rotated throughout the broader Ellicott community. The group also pledges to be fiscally responsible, including an independent audit of town finances and transparent budget sharing while working to preserve the Fluvanna Historic District.
There is a challenge for groups like Renew Ellicott. It’s hard sometimes to govern. But this group’s experience smooths over that concern. Rensel is a longtime mayor of Falconer, Beckerink has years of service with the Falconer Central School Board of Education, Cybart is a familiar name as a former Ellicott police officer and longtime American Legion official while Gustafson serves now as president of the Southwestern Central School board and is a former assistant county attorney who worked under Fred Larson, who is also running for the legislature.
This is a group endorsement. In our view, much of what Renew Ellicott espouses is the way government should be handled. It’s a group that deserves your vote on Tuesday.