Holley voters go to polls on Tuesday to elect new mayor

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 18 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski – Holley Trustee Kevin Lynch, left, and Deputy Mayor Brian Sorochty pose during a recent Village Board meeting. Trustee Connie Nenni was excused from the meeting and is not pictured.  The three are running unopposed in Tuesday’s Village election.

HOLLEY – There are no races in this year’s Holley village election, but residents will elect a new mayor on June 21.

John Kenney, Jr., the current mayor, is retiring from public office and is not seeking re-election.  Trustee Brian Sorochty is running unopposed for mayor, and says he has a passion for the community.

“I love living and raising my family here,” Sorochty says. “I see many potential opportunities to enhance our strengths as well as build new ones in the future.”

He has served as trustee for three years and is currently deputy mayor. Sorochty says important issues facing the community include addressing the village’s aging infrastructure, the number of vacant and under-utilized properties, and maintaining and improving village services to residents while minimizing taxes.

The potential development/renovation of the old Holley High School is still in the preliminary stages, but Sorochty says the village continues to work with local developer Home Leasing on a plan to renovate the school into senior housing units as well as to accommodate village office space.

“They are a very reputable developer with much experience with these project types,” Sorochty says. “They are currently nearing completion of the renovation of the former Eastman Dental Dispensary, which was also one of the Landmark Society’s ‘Five to Revive’ buildings.”

Moving the village offices to the school would provide accessible office and public meeting space which the village currently lacks, Sorochty explains, and adds that the developer is working towards applying for funding, which will be submitted later this year.

“We have a ways to go, but it is a very exciting opportunity that I believe will have benefits even beyond the village limits,” he says.

Regarding the eight “Diaz” homes in the village currently owned by the EPA, Sorochty says the Village Board is continuing to work with the Holley LDC and the EPA towards having ownership of the properties transferred to the LDC.  The transfer will facilitate getting the properties on the market, occupied, and back on the tax rolls.

“The LDC and Chair Dan Schiavone have been working hard at this and I applaud their efforts,” Sorochty says.

Sorochty also discussed the efforts of the mayor and Village Board over the last few years to improve the efficiency of village government and the services it provides.

“To that end, we have contracted with the Village of Albion for police chief and management services for our sewage treatment plant,” Sorochty explains. “We have also created the Holley LDC in order to manage vacant properties, specifically the EPA-owned properties.”

As mayor, his future plans include pursuing grants to aid in repairing aging infrastructure; following up on goals set as part of the village’s Comprehensive Plan; making the renovation of the old high school a reality; and working to find new ways to encourage more positive interaction and involvement from village residents with local government.

“On a daily basis, I commit to continue to work with the Village Board and staff, much as I have over the past three years, to make good decisions that benefit the community, and to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars,” Sorochty says. “I am very excited to put my experience – which is a combination of my last few years on the Board and my 25 years of working in the consulting engineering and construction industry – to work for the Village of Holley.”

Sorochty also thanks Mayor John Kenney for his many years of service to village residents as both a trustee and as mayor.

“He is very dedicated to serving this village, and has been tremendous to work with as a colleague and a friend.  I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Sorochty says.

Two trustee seats are also up for election and incumbents Connie Nenni and Kevin Lynch are both running unopposed. The trustee seats are two-year terms.

Connie Nenni serve three years previously as a Village Board member, was off the Board for three years, and then returned again after the election two years ago.

She says she is running for re-election because she truly cares about the community and believes the current Board has made many improvements and continues to make progress in several areas.

“We started with the LDC, which will eventually help to get the Diaz homes back on the market and the tax rolls and possibly other abandoned homes,” Nenni says.  She adds that changes have also been made in the police department and the Board continues to work on issues there.

She says right now, staffing of the village police department is one of the most important issues facing the village.

“We currently run with part-time officers and our village has always been a stepping stone because of that and a lower pay scale,” Nenni explains. “We, like many communities around us, are finding it hard to keep officers. We have raised starting pay and will continues to look at this. In the past, our voters have confirmed that they do not want to lose our village police department and neither do I.”

Other important issues include the vacant Diaz homes, and some of the bank owned homes which have been empty for far too long, Nenni says.

Like Deputy Mayor Sorochty, Nenni is very hopeful about the possibility that the old Holley High School will be renovated and that the current developer will be able to move forward.

“The old school is something that not just village residents would like to see something happen with, but the entire Holley community,” she says.

Nenni encourages residents to come to Village Board meetings to gain an understanding of all that goes into decision making.

“I’d rather see them get their information from coming to a meeting or emailing or calling a Board member to get first-hand information or ask questions,” she says. “With social media and rumors spread by word of mouth, incorrect information spreads quickly.

“Many times it gets lots of people very upset when they didn’t need to be if they had the correct information the first time around. I am always hearing about someone second guessing something that they heard the Board had done or didn’t do. Usually, once they hear the reasoning behind it, they understand. There is almost always more to the story than what people hear.”

She notes that there are five people on the Board and many times multiple opinions are brought to the table on issues.

Nenni says that if residents find it hard to get to meetings, they can always contact Village Board members via email or phone.

Trustee Kevin Lynch was first elected to the Village Board two years ago and says his first term has been a learning experience.

“There was more involved than I anticipated,” he says about serving as a member of the Village Board.

As a member of the final graduating class from the old Holley High School, Lynch says his interest in and connection to the village’s most prominent landmark encouraged him to get involved in public office in the hopes of saving the building.  He says he, too, is hopeful that Home Leasing will be successful in their efforts.

“It may be the last chance” for the building, he says.

Lynch also cites the need to improve the village’s aging infrastructure while keeping taxes in check, a job which is a challenge as there is little room in the village for expanding the tax base. He notes that makes getting the Diaz homes back on the tax rolls even more essential.

His two years as a trustee have given him a good understanding of the budget process, Lynch says.

“We work to do what we can for the village,” he says. “It’s hard to keep taxes down.”

He says members of the Village Board have an excellent working relationship and feels, “Brian (Sorochty) will be a good mayor.”

Voting will take place Tuesday, June 21. at the Holley Village Offices, 72 Public Square, from noon to 9 p.m.