Resident questions integrity of candidate for actions with Gaines town business

Posted 5 November 2017 at 3:01 pm


So here are two things that bother me about Susan Heard as the potential Gaines Town Clerk:

The first happened several years back, but was so questionable in my mind that it influences my choice for Town Clerk today. In this particular case, the then-Town Clerk (since retired) was part of an independent audit which showed her to be negligent and deceitful in her job. The full report from the audit was presented to the Town Board; the Town Board then had the firm present the summarized report to the public at one of our sparsely attended Town Board meetings. This is how transparency works.

Word spread about the findings of the report and townspeople began to phone the Supervisor to ask why nothing was being done to discipline the then-Town Clerk. Supervisor Culhane addressed these calls and other questions regarding the report’s findings in an open, public Town Board meeting. This is transparency.

The next Town Board meeting was attended by some friends and supporters of the Town Clerk, including Ms. Heard who was at that time (and still is) the County Treasurer; she herself handles many of the County’s finances. She accused the Board of “bullying” the Gaines Clerk when they discussed the issue raised by other residents. This seems to me to be highly improper for one elected official to come out in support of another elected official over a formal report of misconduct.

The second thing is in regards to overlevying of the water bill for some residents. It’s petty, I admit, but leads to a bigger issue of trust and truthfulness. Ms. Heard claims to have discovered the over-levying of some water districts in Gaines (Sept 8: Letters to the Editor, Orleans Hub), but this is not true.

Supervisor Culhane began looking into this after it was brought to her attention at a public Town Board meeting by a resident, Connie Mosher, who questioned a large increase on her tax bill for the water levy. Supervisor Culhane contacted several officials in attempt to correct the situation and though she was one of those people, Ms. Heard was not the original person to bring it to light, as she claimed in her editorial.

Again, small potatoes. But an overall picture has been painted for me of a person who seems to bend the truth for personal advantage, and who seems to have little regard for the significance of supporting someone who had mishandled the public’s trust (and finances) while she herself is in a position of public trust.

Marilynn Miller

Gaines resident and Town Board meeting attendee since 2008