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Democrats cross-endorse Dean London for Albion mayor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 January 2014 at 12:00 am

Democrats back 3 candidates for village trustees

Dean London

ALBION – Albion Democrats have endorsed three candidates to run against Republicans for trustees on the Village Board. The Democrats, however, will not run a candidate against Dean London, the retired police chief who has the GOP-backing for mayor.

London will have both the Republican and Democratic Party lines for the March 18 election. He will be unopposed unless a candidate mounts an independent party campaign.

“It’s unexpected, but I’m very grateful,” London said after accepting the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

The party held its caucus at the Orleans Vets Club. Eight Democrats turned out, including Pete Sidari, a current village trustee. He nominated London for mayor. Sidari was cross-endorsed by the Republicans two years ago.

He said London has a long history of community involvement, has managed a budget and employees, and would be committed to the mayor’s position. London currently works at Baxter Healthcare in Medina.

“We don’t have anybody,” Sidari said at the Democratic caucus. “If you have to pull someone kicking and screaming, what kind of job are you going to get out of him?”

Democrats backed the following for trustee: Terry Wilbert, Patricia Cammarata and Sandra Walter. Wilbert and Walter attended the caucus and accepted the nominations. Cammarata wasn’t there and Walter, the Albion Democratic Party chairwoman, will confirm with Cammarata today if she will run for the position.

Cammarata, a resident of West State Street, served on the Swan Library board of trustees when the library worked to build the new Hoag Library. She worked as a social worker in Rochester. Wilbert nominated her at the party caucus for one of two four-year terms as trustee.

Wilbert

Wilbert, 63, is retired after a career as a school guidance counselor. He also worked for the Rochester Urban League and as an administrator for the Ulster County BOCES.

He has served on the Albion Board of Education, the Swan Library Board of Trustees, the Town of Albion Planning Board and helped start the youth soccer program in Albion about three decades ago. He is currently chairman of the administrative council for the First United Methodist Church in Albion.

“I’m real concerned about the whole area,” Wilbert said about the county. “The tax rate is the real problem.”

He noted the county has one of the highest cumulative tax rates in the country as a percentage of home value. The situation is even worse in the villages, where the tax rate is far higher.

“It impacts our ability to attract residents and businesses,” he said. “We need to find how we can cooperate and do things better.”

Wilbert, a resident of South Main Street, said the local officials at all levels need to better capitalize on the local assets, including the fishing industry, the canal and historic sites.

Wilbert in his job with Ulster County saw other communities around the state, small counties that seemed to be prospering. In Orleans County, he said officials often cite state-mandated expenses as the culprit for the high taxes. Wilbert said those mandated costs are in other communities that are growing.

“The mandates are the same all over New York State,” he said. “That doesn’t explain why others are doing better. We’re at a cusp for our village, town and county. Do we want to stay in poverty?”

Wilbert and Cammarata were backed for four-year terms against Republican-endorsed candidates Eileen Banker and Stan Farone.

Walter

Democrats backed Sandra Walter to run against Gary Katsanis for a two-year term. Walter is the Albion Democratic Party chairwoman. She is also the treasurer for the Orleans County Democratic Committee.

The West Bank Street resident works as a quality control analyst for Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion.

“People need choices and I think I would be a good choice,” she said. “It’s time for a change.”

She said the Village Board tends to let projects linger, whether it’s the replacement of the Clarendon Street bridge, sidewalk upgrades or sewer repairs.

“Things have been going on too long,” she said. “It’s time to bring some projects to fruition. It seems like we’re forever working on the sewer.”

The Village Board is a rare board in Orleans County that consistently has at least one elected Democrat. The Democrats have regularly offered up a slate of candidates.

Wilbert said at the local level, party labels don’t seem to matter as much to voters.

“It’s great the people of Albion look at diversity on the board,” Walter said.