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Massena mayor talks politics with fourth-grade students

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MASSENA - With the election season winding down, Massena Mayor James F. Hidy had an opportunity to visit with Madison Elementary School fourth graders on Friday to discuss the political process.

“It’s a democracy. It gives eligible people a chance to vote for their leader. We get to choose a president. We get to choose a mayor and congressman and senator and trustees. You get a chance to have someone direct your country and direct your future,” according to Mr. Hidy, halfway through his four-year term as mayor.

In Mr. Hidy’s case, he told the students he answers to four trustees on the village board.

“They give me direction of where the village should go,” he said.

He also works with the school district for joint projects that will benefit both entities, according to the mayor.

“It helps save money for the school. It helps save money for the village,” Mr. Hidy said.

Among the services under the auspices of the village are police, the fire department and Department of Public Works. Altogether, he said, there are 117 village employees - he called them “second to none in the state” - providing services that the students’ parents are paying for on their tax bills.

“Somebody has to pay for the water you drink. Somebody has to provide it for you. We help provide those services for your parents and for the school. We do all the stuff that needs to be done on a daily basis. I think we’re doing a good job,” he said.

Mr. Hidy said he is also responsible to Massena’s residents who pay for those services.

“I work for the people of Massena. Those are my bosses,” he said.

Like a press conference, students peppered the mayor with questions, such as his interaction with residents. Mr. Hidy said he tries to meet with them as often as possible so he can better gauge how they feel the village’s $16 million budget should be spent. That’s done in a number of ways, including meeting with local groups such as the Rotary Club, Italian American Club and senior citizens.

“You have to go out and see the public. You have to know what they want to see changed in the way business is done. We have a $16 million budget. You have to know how to spread that $16 million around. It’s not my money. It’s the peoples’. You have to make decisions that are based on the whole group,” he said.

Not every aspects of being a mayor is pleasant, he told the students.

“Sometimes it’s tough. Sometimes you have to make decisions that you don’t like,” Mr. Hidy said.

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