Turnout for village elections may have set all-time low

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2016 at 12:00 am

In Medina, about 3 percent of voters went to polls

Photo by Tom Rivers – It was pretty quiet on Tuesday at the Albion Village Hall for the village elections. Only 210 residents out of 2,692 eligible voters went to the polls.

It was just over a year ago when Medina village residents stood in long lines to vote about village dissolution, whether the village government would be dissolved.

The issue was intensely debated in Medina and the outlying towns. Hundreds of people turned out for public meetings. On Jan. 20, 2015, dissolution was rejected, 949-527. About half of the eligible voters came out that day in one of the biggest turnouts in recent memory for a village election.

Tuesday may have been the tiniest turnout ever for Medina. Only 87 voters out of about 3,000 cast a ballot. That’s about 3 percent of the village residents. Village-Clerk Treasurer Debbie Padoleski has been on the job for about three decades and doesn’t recall so few people ever going to the polls in Medina.

The three candidates were all unopposed. Mike Sidari is the new mayor and Marguerite Sherman and Tim Elliott were elected trustees. No one else passed petitions to get on the ballot.

A year ago, when only two candidates – Todd Bensley and Owen Toale – were on the ballot, 311 people voted. The race had some added drama with Jeremy Hogan, co-owner of O’Brien’s, running as a write-in. He received 98 votes, which was more than anyone on the ballot this past Tuesday.

Albion village elections more than a decade ago used to draw 800 to 1,000 voters, especially in a mayoral election. This was an off-election for the mayor’s post, but two trustee spots were up, with three candidates running.

Republicans only fielded one candidate, incumbent Gary Katsanis, and he lost to Democrats Peter Sidari and Mattea Navarra-Molisani. There were only 210 voters, or 7.8 percent of the 2,692 who were eligible to vote.

Lyndonville had the best turnout in terms of percentage. There were 125 voters on Tuesday, 26.7 percent of the 468 who were eligible. The election included two candidates running for mayor and three candidates for two trustee positions.

A year ago, Lyndonville had two trustees running unopposed. Only 15 people voted that day, so Tuesday was a much bigger turnout.

John Belson, the newly elected mayor, said the community needs more participation from residents, not only in local government but with service organizations, churches, fire departments and other important roles in the village and town.

In Albion, Trustee Stan Farone has been leading monthly “Energize Albion” meetings to try to engage the community in local issues.