CANTON -With the election four weeks from today, candidates for village mayor and two trustee seats have kicked their campaigns into high gear.
Political signs, door-to-door visits and support letters are churning up interest in the Nov. 5 race that pits incumbent Mayor David P. Curry against Trustee Mary Ann Ashley.
People have a choice and thats a healthy situation, Ms. Ashley said. We need change, we need leadership and we need integrity. I have already performed that way as a village trustee.
She has started knocking on doors to meet with village residents.
Mr. Curry said he will stick to political signs and word of mouth.
Mr. Curry, a life-long Canton resident, believes his 21 years experience on the village board makes him the best candidate for the mayors job. He has owned Daves, a Main Street bar, for 38 years and served in the Canton Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years.
I have a lot of background and knowledge about Cantons past. I have a feel for how it should progress, Mr. Curry said. I have always been interested in the community and the village. Ive been involved for 21 years, and Id like to accomplish projects weve already started.
Those include identifying another village water source and developing more affordable housing options for students and other village residents.
Ms. Ashley said her work as a trustee shows she has the leadership and vision the village needs to move forward. She grew up in Ogdensburg and has lived in Canton for the past 30 years. She works as a counselor for St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services at its Seaway Technical Center, Norwood.
Although they are both registered Republicans, Ms. Ashley is running on the Democrat line because Mr. Curry captured more GOP votes at the Sept. 11 Republican caucus. Ms. Ashley won the Democrat endorsement the following night at the Canton Democrat caucus so voters will see her name on the Democrat line when they head into the voting booth.
Ms. Ashley said shes concerned the village is carrying a $3.96 million debt in a $5.98 million budget. Annual interest payments are roughly $94,000.
We should not be carrying that type of debt, Ms. Ashley said. I have been very vocal with my colleagues that we need to change our financial situation.
The fire station debt is supposed to be paid off in January and a water/sewer project debt is supposed to be paid off in two years.
Comprehensive planning is key to improving the tax base, Ms. Ashley said.
Mr. Curry believes the village is in a strong financial shape and emphasized that village property taxes have not increased for the past three years.
All communities have bonds for different projects, Mr. Curry said. The village is financially stable right now. The bonds are being paid back at low-interest rates.
The mayor said he has strong working relationships with village department heads and employees, which helps the village run smoothly on a daily basis.
Both candidates agree that bringing in more businesses is important to help improve the vitality of the community and increase the property tax base. About 65 percent of the property in the village is tax-exempt, meaning that the remaining property owners have to pick up the full tax burden.
Mr. Curry said the village and Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn continue to seek grant funds to improve downtown buildings which may encourage more economic growth.
He also pointed to the downtown reconstruction project which provided the village with new water and sewer lines, sidewalks, benches, lighting, and other upgrades.
Canton now looks more attractive to businesses, and we are actively pursuing more business downtown, Mr. Curry said.
The kayak rental program started by Ms. Ashley has generated about $5,000 for the villages coffers.
It may not see like much, but it helps. I have also thought about bike and snowshoe rental programs, she said.
Ms. Ashley said a marketing outreach campaign will be launched soon that will focus on marketing the community to businesses in the Ottawa area.
Costs can also be controlled by sharing services through collaborations with the town, county colleges and busineses, she said.
Four candidates are seeking two seats on the village board: incumbent Michael E. Dalton and Nicholas C. Kocher, both Republicans and Carol Pynchon and Brooke James-Rouse, both Democrats.