In Kendall, an 11th hour write-in campaign
KENDALL – As Dan Gaesser wraps up four years as town supervisor and seven years on the Town Board, he has been thinking about the transition for the town to a new supervisor and new majority on the board.
Gaesser says he has worried in recent months about a trio of candidates backed by the Republican Committee to serve on the board. The candidates, including the GOP-picked candidate for town supervisor, haven’t served on the Town Board before.
As the election neared in recent weeks, Gaesser admits he grew more worried about the new team that seemed destined to take office.
Gaesser said other people in town voiced some misgivings about the Republican candidates. Gaesser said he saw an ideal candidate already on the board in Town Councilman Bart Joseph, who has six years on the board.
Joseph didn’t pursue the Republican endorsement in the spring. He assumed Gaesser would seek re-election.
“I thought Dan was running,” Joseph said.
Gaesser opted against another two-year term, saying he wanted to devote more time to his family and business.
Gaesser last week convinced Joseph and two other residents, David Balka and David Gaudioso, to mount write-in campaigns for the Town Board. Joseph agreed to be a candidate for town supervisor.
“With his experience, it would be very beneficial moving forward,” Gaesser said. “People are concerned with a board that is 60 percent new.”
The Republican Committee picked Tony Cammarata as its candidate for town supervisor. The committee also endorsed Bruce Newell and Patrick Snook, Jr. for the Town Board.
Cammarata ran for the Town Board with the Democratic Party’s endorsement in 2009 and 2011. A former independent, he is now a registered Republican. He also retired last year after a 34-year career in sales with Georgia Pacific, a paper products and plywood company.
Cammarata said his career in sales and management gives him “a vast background working with people.”
He serves on the town Zoning Boards of Appeals and is a member of the Kendall Lions Club.
He didn’t fault Joseph and the other write-in candidates for making a run for office.
“That’s what free elections are all about,” Cammarata said. “That’s what America stands for and it’s what I believe in.”
Cammarata said he has the time to devote to the position now that he’s retired.
“I’m totally available,” he said.
Cammarata said he wants to extend waterlines in town. He thinks Kendall can draw more residents. It has close proximity to the lake, a respected school district and beautiful rural landscapes.
“I want to work with the people and identify their needs,” he said. “I know working with people accomplishes a lot.”
Gaesser said the trio of Republican-endorsed candidates may not quickly grasp town budgeting, the process of forming new water districts, and working on business projects, including the 400-unit development at the former Salvation Army Camp. The Wegman Group has begun construction of “The Cottages at Troutburg,” a development projected to take about a decade to complete.
Joseph has been heavily involved in town projects the past six years, Gaesser said. Joseph said he also knows how to advance projects through the layers of local, state and federal governments.
He has worked the past 32 years as a paramedic with the Rochester Fire Department. He is the department’s line safety officer. He also has been a volunteer firefighter in Morton for 39 years.
“This town has invested a lot in me over the years,” Joseph said. “I have experience working in the city government, the fire community and the Town Board.”
Winning as a write-in requires voters to write the names of the candidates on the ballot. It’s unusual for a candidate to pull off a write-in victory.
Three years ago Lisa Murkowski became the first U.S. senator in more than 50 years to win an election with a write-in campaign. She received more than 100,000 votes in Alaska to win as a write-in. Both Joseph and Cammarata mentioned Murkowski’s victory as an example that it can be done.
If Cammarata wins on Tuesday and becomes town supervisor, Joseph would still be on the board as a councilman. Cammarata said he would welcome Joseph’s input and contributions.
Cammarata said he sees his role as assembling a team that can work on projects for the town.
“If you’re the town supervisor, you’re the manager,” he said. “You’re the leader and you have to have people skills. I bring that and I’m highly motivated.”