Big turnout at Yates called ‘wonderful’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Patrick Whipple fills out his ballot today at Yates Town Hall, which has been busy with voters.

YATES – Long-time Yates residents are seeing something today they don’t recall in their lifetimes: A big flock of people has turned out at the polls for a local election.

There has been a steady stream of people throughout the day on Main Street for people to vote at Yates Town Hall. By 5 p.m., 550 people had cast ballots out of 1,466 registered voters, or about 40 percent of the eligible voters. There were still four hours to go till the polls closed.

“There have been a lot of new faces,” said one of the poll workers. “This just doesn’t happen like this in this little town.”

Most of the local elections in Yates offer a slate of unopposed candidates. Turnout is light at the polls. But this election, there is a race for town supervisor, and three candidates are vying for two other spots on the Town Board.

Jim Simon, a write-in candidate for town supervisor, arrived at 6 a.m. and has been standing by this sign all day, hoping to connect with voters.

Jim Simon mounted a write-in campaign after losing the Republican Primary in September to incumbent John Belson for town supervisor. It was close, with Belson winning 153-146.

But Simon stayed committed in the race. He stood by the Post Office beginning at 6 a.m. with a big sign urging people to vote for him, John Riggi and Glenn Maid. All are vocally opposed to a proposed wind turbine project in the community.

A citizens group, Save Ontario Shores, formed when Apex Clean Energy announced its plan for 60 to 68 of the turbines in Somerset and Yates.

The election workers established 100-foot buffer zones for candidates to not campaign before voters entered the Town Hall to cast their vote. Simon stood in front of the Post Office. He had many conversations throughout the day.

“It’s great to see everyone exercising their Constitutional right to vote,” he said.

There was a sign not far from Simon displayed high, promoting Wes Bradley, a town councilman who wasn’t endorsed by SOS. The sign urges voters to support a “fair and impartial” town official. That is the same message in signs for Belson.

Richard and Linda Fisk arrived across the street from Simon at 7 a.m. They were there to support Belson and Bradley. The couple has lived in the Lyndonville community for more than 70 years.

They said they hadn’t seen a bigger crowd to Main Street since the Fourth of July, when Lyndonville hosts a big festival.

“There has been a lot of interest and a lot of traffic,” Mrs. Fisk said.

Richard and Linda Fisk have stood by their 1948 Mercury truck since 7 this morning. The truck includes a stuffed animal of a dalmation. “Fear Not The Wind” is painted on the truck door.

The Fisks said they have known Belson and Bradley for many years, and both are long-time community servants with the best interests of the community in mind.

“I’m doing this to keep the Town Board where it’s at,” Mrs. Fisk said. “I believe in what I’m doing. I believe it’s best for the town.”

They said they have received many honks of support and thumbs up from passing motorists.

The Fisks even chatted with Simon during the day and SOS members. Everything was civil, Mrs. Fisk said.

“We’re not at each others’ throats,” she said. “The bottom line is everyone has their own opinion and they’re entitled to it.”

Glenn Maid (left), a candidate for Town Board, is pictured with Anne Smith, treasurer of Save Ontario Shores, and Paul Lauricella, a candidate for County Legislature.

Some Save Ontario Shores members were on the north side of the Town Hall, near the library looking to speak with residents before they voted.

“We want to elect our candidates,” said Smith, who has been out since 9 a.m., hoping to chat with voters.

“We’ve had a lot of thumbs up from people and horns beeping,” she said.

Lauricella has been an active government watchdog in recent years. He often speaks about voter apathy. But he was smiling about the busy election polls today in Yates.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much traffic on Election Day,” Lauricella said. “It’s the revolution of Lyndonville. Isn’t it wonderful?”