Two Somers men are vying to serve a one-year term on the Somers Town Board in a special election on Tuesday after Harry Bolton, former councilman, resigned earlier this year due to health problems.
George Dieter, who served one four-year term on the board, and Anthony Cirieco, a Somers school board member, are the two candidates.
When Bolton resigned in March, the town board appointed Richard Benedict to replace him until a special election in November. Bolton's term will expire on December 31, 2013.
Dieter, 60, has lived in Somers with his wife since 1989. The couple has three children. The man is an attorney who was endorsed by the Democratic, Independent and Working Family Parties. He previously served on the Somers school board from 1994 to 2000; and he was a councilman from 2006 to 2009. He is involved with the following civic organizations: Conservation Board, Planning Board, President of the Somers High School Marching Band Parents' Association.
Cirieco, 59, has lived in Somers since 1983 with his wife Carol and three children. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and MBA in Finance. For the past couple of years he has been an investment manager at Morgan Stanley in Mount Kisco. He is currently serving his second term as trustee on the Somers School Board. For years, he has coached football and lacrosse and was chairman of Scout Pack 210. He also supports his wife's efforts with American Cancer’s Societies’ Relay for Life where she raised more than $200,000. Cirieco was endorsed by the Republican Party and Conservative Party with the support of town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy and the Somers Republican Committee.
Below is a Q&A with Dieter. Click here for a Q&A with Cirieco.
Patch: Why did you decide to run for office again?
Dieter: These are difficult times for all levels of government. The key issues facing Somers right now involve maintaining our quality of life and maintaining a high level of Town Services in a difficult economy. And this must be done within a budget that does not adversely impact the taxpayers.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve as a town board member?
Dieter: Other elected positions held: School Board (1994 - 2000), Town Board
(2006 - 2009). Civic organizations: Conservation Board, Planning Board, President Somers High School Marching Band Parents' Association.
Patch: What are the top three issues facing Somers residents?
Dieter: In the last 3 years, the town has cut a number of departments and services. We no longer have a full time town engineer – these services are now provided by an outside engineer, who charges by the hour. This is probably a much more expensive way of providing these services. We no longer have a conservation board. This group of unpaid volunteers was designed to specialize in the environmental impact of pending development and to enforce the town’s environmental code, which impacts on our quality of life.
The town planner has been reduced to half time, so those services have been severely curtailed. Funding for the historic properties has also been severely cut and that again impacts on our quality of life and our links to our historic past.
Perhaps most importantly, the funding to the library has been cut, to the point that the Library has significant repairs that need to be done. If not for a recent grant of $50,000 by the State of New York, a leaky roof may not be repaired.
Patch: Should you be elected, what would you like to achieve over the one year you would serve on the board?
Dieter: Obviously some cuts are necessary and unavoidable. However, we need to plan for the current shortfalls in revenue, so that the impact on the town is minimized. Most recently it appears that the town’s revenue from Sales tax has increased while the revenue from mortgage tax is still below budget.
The town board must adequately address these revenue issues and institute long range planning to deal with them.
Raising taxes is not an option, but we can’t plan around election year state grant money or windfalls from the sale of town owned property.
No one party or individual has all the answers. But the right answers will come from open and honest discussion amongst board members. That can only come about when a range of ideas is represented on the board.
Patch: Name an issue or project outside of the budget development process that you feel is an important issue to address?
Dieter: I would suggest some of the following to promote savings and long
range financial planning:
- Establish a Capital Construction Fund.
- Establish a Central Purchasing Agent for all Town departments and bid it out to that all departments can benefit from the best price.
- Establish a Central Maintenance and Repair Agent so that all departments would use the same maintenance and repair shops. And bid it out to make sure we get the best price.
- Work with established grant writers in the field who can identify and aggressively pursue grant money to help pay for various projects here in Somers.
- Work closely with the Somers Energy Advisory Board to identify areas where we can save on energy dollars now and in the future.
- Work with the Somers School District to develop areas of mutual concern where both partners can save money by combining our efforts.