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October 24, 2013

Oneonta candidates meet in debates

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Oneonta residents got to learn more about some of the candidates they will have a chance to vote for on Election Day, at a Wednesday evening forum organized by the League of Women Voters of the Oneonta Area. 

The two candidates for the vacant District 4 seat on the county board of representatives led off the session held at Morris Hall on the SUNY Oneonta campus. The three candidates for town judge then made statements. The session concluded with a debate between the four candidates running for two vacant seats on the Oneonta town board. The 2 ½ hour session was broadcast live on Public Access Channel 23, with live streaming. Moderator Barbara Hein, a league member, asked questions contributed by audience members and those watching. Questions also came from the media panel consisting of Emily Popek, assistant editor of The Daily Star, and Jim Kevlin, editor and publisher of Hometown Oneonta and the Freeman's Journal.

The opening debate was between Daniel Buttermann who is running on the Democratic line, and Janet Hurley-Quackenbush, a Republican member of the Oneonta town council and vice president of Sunrise Caterers, an Oneonta business.

Buttermann said when he was asked to run by incumbent Rich Murphy, a Democrat who chose not to seek reelection, he was already thinking about how to best serve his community. 

With the county seeking to privatize its nursing home and leave the consortium that handles its solid waste, “we have the opportunity to control spending while preserving the way of life,” he said

Hurley-Quackenbush talked about the knowledge she has received while serving 14 years on the town board, where she has voted following the interests of her constituents. 

“I hope to reduce spending, and increase revenue,” she said. 

She was also in favor of smart growth.

Buttermann said a key issue is economic development, including recognizing, retaining and expanding businesses. He sees a new model for economic development in the county. While agreeing with much of what he said, Hurley-Quackenbush said she would go through the budget line-by-line to find ways to live within the tax cap. She said she would pursue a strategy to get out of the “garbage business” as the county sought to leave its current arrangement. Buttermann said he would be in favor of a public-private partnership that could generate revenue. Hurley-Quackenbush said that she would be in favor of anything that raised revenue.

The town board debate was between Republican candidates Brett Holleran, and Fred Volpe, and Democratic candidates Patricia Jacob and Andrew Stammel. They agreed on most issues, including not wanting hydrofracking in the town, and no merger with the city.

While Jacob, a family nurse practitioner with Bassett Healthcare, said she was against a gas pipeline running along Interstate 88, Volpe, a self-employed real estate agent, and Holleran, a teacher and business owner, said they did not know enough about it. Stammel, an attorney and SUNY Oneonta administrator ran out of time in his answer and did not return to the question.

All expressed a need for a Southside Water District to help economic growth as proposed by the town. Stammel said there should be a different system for residents and business to better address their needs. Jacob and Volpe said there should be more collaboration with the city. Holleran said he was concerned that any collaboration of the city could result in the loss of the Southside to that municipality. If the residents were against it, it should be pursued only for commercial properties, he said.

Running for town justice are incumbent Bruce Smith, and challengers Dawn Oliver and Sean Farrell.

More information on the Oneonta Area League and the debates can be found at www.lwvoneonta.org.