Republicans back Eileen Banker for Albion mayor
Gary Katsanis, Stan Farone are GOP candidates for village trustees
ALBION – The Albion Republican Committee tonight picked its candidates for the March 20 village election with Eileen Banker topping the slate as the mayoral pick.
She will be joined on the ballot by Republicans for village trustee, Gary Katsanis and Stan Farone.
Banker has been on the board the past eight years as a trustee, including the past four years as deputy mayor. She works as the chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
Dean London, the current mayor, is not seeking re-election. He nominated Banker to be his successor during the Republican caucus at the Hoag Library.
“She is very committed and dedicated to the village,” London told the room of about 35 Republicans.
Banker also is on the board of directors for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and on the advisory council for Genesee Community College. She also has been a long-time supporter of the Albion Fire Department. (Her husband Dale is a former chief and the current emergency management coordinator for Orleans County.)
Banker said she favors continued shared services with neighboring municipalities. She said the Department of Public Works shares equipment and personnel with local town and the county highway departments.
Albion also has agreements with the Village of Holley for providing personnel. Roland Nenni, the Albion police chief, also leads he Holley department. Albion sewer staff also run Holley’s sewer plant and the sewer system in Elba.
“We are looking at shared services and that is huge,” Banker said after the caucus.
She said the village has some positive projects in the works, including a major upgrade at the Bullard Park this year, including a new spray park. A state grant is covering nearly $500,000 of the work.
Albion has also started offering a downtown rental subsidy program to encourage more businesses to locate in the historic district.
The village also created a new local development corporation with a focus on acquiring vacant houses and getting them occupied and back on the tax rolls.
“There is no quick, easy answer,” she said about the vacant houses and some of the empty storefronts.
One issue Banker doesn’t support is eliminating the village police force. A study by the Center for Governmental Research said an option in local law enforcement services would be eliminating the village police departments and have the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office provide the service in the villages. That would result in a big tax cut for village residents while raising county taxes.
Banker doesn’t want to see the village lose local control, or have a slower response time for police calls.
“We have a police department that is second to none,” she said. “We have top-of-the-line police officers and with our police chief.”
Republicans also backed Stan Farone for the Village Board. Farone, a Kodak retiree, has been on the board for one term. He helped start the Energize Albion group, which has planned several events in Albion.
“We have started a lot of projects,” he said. “I want to see them finished.”
He is looking forward to the work at Bullard Park and sees the LDC making a difference in getting residents living in many of the vacant houses.
Farone works part-time for the Mental Health Association of Orleans & Genesee Counties as a project manager. He works out of the Albion drop-in center at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex.
Gary Katsanis previously served as a village trustee. He was backed for a return this evening. (Former Mayor Ed Salvatore also received six votes to be a trustee candidate, but Farone had 22 and Katsanis, 30.)
Katsanis is retired after working in medical data analysis for Strong and then Blue Cross. He managed a staff that stretched from Buffalo to Utica.
Banker said she is pleased to see Farone and Katsanis want to be on the board. Banker said Katsanis is “a numbers guy” who digs into the “nitty, gritty.”
Katsanis was on the board when the village started discussing a project that would have solar panels on village-owned land. Those panels are expected to be in place at the sewer plant this year, reducing electric bills by $100,000 a year, Katsanis said.
The Democratic Party endorsed its candidates on Monday with Joyce Riley for mayor, and Jason Dragon and Sandra Walter for village trustees. There is still time for candidates to submit petitions to run as independents.