3 are backed to run for 2 Albion village trustee positions
ALBION – Three people have been backed to run for two trustee positions during the March 15 village elections.
Both Albion Republican and Democratic parties held caucuses on Tuesday evening to nominate candidates to fill open seats currently held by Peter Sidari and Gary Katsanis.
Republicans supported Katsanis for a four-year term, while Democrats backed Sidari and political newcomer Mattea Navarra-Molisani.
There was light turnout at the caucuses with only six registered Republicans at the GOP caucus at the County Clerks Building, and 11 Democrats at Hoag Library.
Katsanis is the lone Republican candidate. He was elected to the board in March 2014 to fill the remaining two years of a term vacated by Fred Miller when he was elected county legislator.
Katsanis, 57, is retired after working in medical data analysis for Strong and then Blue Cross. He managed a staff that stretched from Buffalo to Utica.
He said he brings an analytical approach to village business.
“I listen and then make an informed decision,” he said.
He said the village faces many issues, from upgrades at the water plant, downtown revitalization, keeping up with aging infrastructure and providing many other services. After two years on the board, Katsanis said the work is challenging.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought,” he said. “I can’t do it by myself.”
Katsanis said working with the Department of Transportation and other state agencies, even for what seems like simple projects with signage, takes effort and coordination.
The Democrats have two candidates with Sidari and Navarra-Molisani.
Sidari, 55, was elected to the board four years ago. He works as a fire safety educator for the North Greece Fire District.
Sidari said the current board works well together and is moving along projects, including a solar installation at the sewer and water plants. He also is pleased there is more open dialogue with the Albion Town Board. He wants to have Gaines officials at the table so the community can look for ways to share services and make government services more affordable.
The DPW also is transitioning to a new leader with Dale Brooks, the former superintendent, now the Barre highway superintendent. Sidari said the village will be looking to hire a new superintendent.
He praised village department heads and employees for stepping up efforts to work with other communities. Albion runs Holley’s sewer plant under the direction of Aric Albright, and Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni also is serving as Holley’s police chief. Albright and Albion water and sewer personnel also are running Elba’s plants.
“That has helped bring in some resources to the village,” Sidari said.
Ultimately, the village needs more aid from the state to reduce taxes and continue the existing services, Sidari said. The state provides an average of $277 in per capita aid to cities through Aid and Incentives to Municipalities or AIM funding. Villages only get about $7 per capita.
The Village of Albion has 6,056 residents and receives $45,249 in state aid, or $7.47 per person. The city of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County has 5,815 people and receives $928,131 in AIM funding or $159.61 per person.
If the state gave villages $100 in per capita aid it would make a huge difference for Albion, Sidari said. The village has about 6,000 residents and $100 per person in Aim funding would mean $600,000 for the village.
“Nothing drives me crazier than the disparity in AIM funding,” Sidari said.
The Village Board passed a resolution last year, seeking more equity from the state with AIM. The governor’s budget proposal for 2016-17 doesn’t change how the money is divvied up.
Navarra-Molisani, 40, has worked 11 years for Claims Recovery Financial Services. She is currently a claims operation manager.
She is familiar with Housing and Urban Development regulations and thinks that federal department could bring resources into the village.
She said she would bring an attention to detail and a new perspective to the board.
“I think the Village Board could use fresh thoughts and new eyes,” she said.
Her family has long been involved in the community. Her father Vinny Navarra owns a downtown building that used to be home to CRFS before the company outgrew the site that is now home to a fitness center, hair salon and liquor store.
Navarra-Molisani said the village needs to work to retain its younger generation and make the community more attractive for younger families.