Candidates share vision for a better Village of Albion
ALBION – The seven candidates for the Albion Village Board shared their goals for the village and why voters should consider them when they go to the polls on March 15. The candidates spoke for two hours during a forum on Tuesday evening at The Lockstone on North Main Street. About 60 people attended the forum.
The candidates all see a strength in Albion’s people. All seven support maintaining the police department and not “defunding” it.
The candidates say more residents need to be an active part of a community revitalization in the business districts and in the neighborhoods.
Vickie Elsenheimer is the Democratic Party candidate for mayor, and Joyce Riley and Sandra Walter are the Democrats running for trustee. All three also are running together on the independent “Move Albion Forward” line.
Elsenheimer retired in March 2021 as an executive assistant to the vice president in the Division of Advancement at Brockport State College. She worked 22 years at Brockport, and 13 years prior to that at Albion Correctional Facility. She also served 17 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring as a sergeant.
She said she has the time to be a full-time mayor and give the village government the attention it needs. She said Albion is struggling and she would make the downtown business district a focus by filling empty buildings. The downtown will need even more consideration from local leaders with the impending closing of the Main Street lift bridge, which could be shut down for two years for extensive repairs.
In her job at Brockport she helped with fundraising and “friend-raising,” and she said Albion needs that approach, bringing more grants and resources to the community, and more allies from other local and state government. She helped Brockport raise $26 million in a campaign for the college.
The downtown needs to a priority because many local residents and prospective businesses judge the community on the looks and energy of the downtown. Right now, the downtown “looks like an abandoned area,” she said. She would push to make rents affordable and pursue grants to help with buildings and beautify the business district.
Albion should better capitalize on being the county seat, she said.
“We need to build on that,” she said. “We need to develop community feel of neighbors caring about each other. We need to be at the top of our game and we’re not there right now.”
Joyce Riley is a retired nursing supervisor. She is currently a trustee for Hoag Library and the Cobblestone Museum. She has twice served on the Albion Board of Education.
Riley said Albion can’t keep moving sideways but must move forward. She said the village needs to develop a plan for upgrading all facets of the community, from water and sewer infrastructure, to parks, to the business districts and the neighborhood. She sees the water and sewer plants as a great asset for Albion attracting more businesses. She was adamant that taxes not go any higher.
“We need to be action-oriented,” Riley said. “Don’t only assess and determine a plan of action, but we actually need to go out and do it.”
Sandra Walter is retired from CRFS, Dime Bank, Anchor Bank and Kodak. She is the chairperson of the Albion Democratic Party Committee.
Walter said she has run for the Village Board four times now. She said she is determined to make a bigger difference for the village.
She said Albion has faced a steady erosion over the years, with a declining population and limited job prospects.
“I applaud the efforts of revitalization, but there is still a long ways to go,” she said. “We need to all step up together as a community to make Albion a busy and vibrant village.”
Walter said she would support moving the village election to June, like in Holley and Brockport. She said it was be easier for residents to get to know the candidates with the election a few months later in warmer weather.
Angel Javier Jr. has the Republican line for mayor and also is on the independent “Better Together Albion Strong.” Dan Conrad and Tim McMurray also are running with the Republican backing.
Javier has he won’t take the mayor’s salary, which is almost $10,000 a year. He owns the former Family Hardware building in downtown Albion and works at Rochester Gas & Electric as a pipefitter apprentice. He is on the Strawberry Festival Committee and a subcommittee of the Planning Board looking for strategies for the downtown buildings.
His first action steps would be talking with local businesses throughout the community to survey their needs and how the village could best help them. He wants a better village website that would promote local businesses, and break down village expenses.
“We need to grow throughout the village, not just downtown, but along the Avenue, at Arnold Gregory and the canal,” Javier said. “There is a perception that Albion is anti-business and we need to change that.”
Javier, who served in the Marine Corps, said he brings a “can-do” attitude and positivity.
“Tell the community we are open of business,” he said.
Dan Conrad said he is well connected in the community through his role as president of the Albion Lions Club, a toy and candy business he owns on East Bank Street, and other volunteerism, including serving as a current member of COVA’s board of directors. He also organizes an annual youth fishing derby.
He said he would be a “team player” in working with village employees to make sure the village is run efficiently and providing quality services to residents and businesses.
He said he has experience working with budgets through COVA and also when he was a trustee on the Hoag Library board.
“It’s not just the board,” Conrad said about the village trustees and mayor. “It takes business owners, the community, it takes everybody to come together to make the village better.”
Tim McMurray said he would make youth services a focus and would like to see a year-round recreation program, even if it’s a couple Saturdays a month during the winter. McMurray has been a youth football coach for 12 years as well as serving as co-commissioner and on executive board of the youth football league. He is part of the Strawberry Festival Committee and helped with the lighted parade in Albion in December. He most recently worked with Sanzo Beverages as a merchandizer stocking beer.
Like the other candidates, he also supports giving the police department the resources it needs for training to protect the community. He is on a committee trying to put new basketball courts in at Bullard Park.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I have no aspirations to ever be one.” He urged residents to be more involved in the community and “be the change.”
Kevin Graham is running under the independent “Albion Pride, Working Together.” Graham has worked as a certified public accountant for 23 years and currently is in the finance department at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He previously was the chief financial officer at the Arc of Genesee & Orleans, an organization with a $23 million budget. He said he would bring a financial management expertise to the village’s $7 million budget.
He has been active with Hospice of Orleans, the Arc of Genesee & Orleans, the Special Olympics and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Fiscal constraints are our greatest challenge,” he said. “With the rising costs of inflation we need to look every place to try to find efficiencies.”
He said he would connect with other local officials to look for partnerships in providing services. He said he is a true independent, willing to work with everyone, regardless of their political affiliation.
The winners of the March 15 election start their four-year terms on April 1. The village budget needs to be completed by the end of April.