Incumbent Nunda Township Road Commissioner “Iron” Mike Lesperance, who won a three-way race by three votes four years ago, is being challenged by Eric Dowd.
At the Tuesday night candidates’ night run by the Nunda Township Republican Central Committee, the two debated.
Lesperance got first crack pointing out that he had cut his levy by 5%, distributed 88,000 sand bags when the Fox River flooded, built a new pole barn in his complex, mixed his own salt brine and repaired 95% of his equipment in-house.
Dowd proposed that the Road District employees treat taxpayers like customers.
He pointed out that he had plowed snow for ten years.
“I’ve got the management [skills] and leadership to cut the taxes,” he said in his opening.
Lesperance countered by saying that he had been in the excavating business and plowed snow for thirty years.
“You need to know the pain those men [plowing the roads] feel.
“I’m not plowing this year because of the campaign.”
Asked about township consolidation, Lesperance said, “I think township consolidation is a joke. County unit prices are higher; the state’s near double.
“I can’t comprehend why bigger government would be cheaper.
“It will be union.”
Dowd said, “I am a look at the numbers guy.
“Show me where the money is and I’ll be for it.”
The next question dealt with how the candidates would save money.
Dowd pointed to the $5,000 spent on newsletters.
“That doesn’t seem to be helping our roads.”
When Dowd said that the levy had been flat before he announced his candidacy, Lesperance retorted, “That’s a flat out lie.
“The levy’s been cut every year for three years–5% over that period–$167,000.
“I’ve save you 5% combined over the last four years.
“I can tell you our men are underpaid.
“Before I cut anymore, they’ll get what they have coming.”
How to improve the office was the next topic.
Lesperance said all of the services could be improved.
He explained that the Foreman made the snowplowing calls.
“We save by doing our work in-house.”
Dowd praised the crew as “second to none.”
“How could relationships with constituents be improved?” was a question asked in writing by an audience member.
“I’d talk to the residents before I destroyed their property,” Down answered.
Lesperance said that building relationships took time. He said the work he had done on culverts, tree removal and ditch digging had been “in the right of way.”
“This doesn’t require resident participation.”
“I’ve struck out a few times,” he admitted, however.
Concluding remarks came next.
Dowd promised to get rid of “things that are unnecessary to provide safe roads for the citizens.”
Lesperance listed “millions of dollars worth of grants to improve local roads:”
- $250,000 from FEMA to reimburse flood control work
- $1.5 million for work on Bull Valley and Country Club Roads
- $617,000 for safety improvements on Lily Lake Road
- $1.6 million for lights and a turning lane at Nish Road and Route 176
- $3 million to assist Bull Valley in improving Crystal Springs Road.
After this part of the debate was over, a woman in the back stood up and complained that her question had not been asked.
Nunda Township Republican Party Chairman Joe Gottemoller said that questions aimed at only one candidate had not been asked.
The woman denied that characterized her question.
After the debate, another woman handed me a question that had not been asked:
“It is my understanding that as Road Commissioner you do not actually report to anyone.
“You have an approved budget and as long as you stay within that budget, you do not need approval from the Township Supervisor and/to Township Trustees nor receive any consequences for your actions.
“If you have been elected by the people and also get paid through taxes from the people — do you believe the Road Commissioner does not answer to anyone and can do whatever he wants within his budget?”