CANTON — Three candidates, a former mayor, the current deputy mayor and a political newcomer, are vying for two open trustee seats on the Canton Village Board of Trustees.
Trustee seats have traditionally carried two-year terms, but starting with the Nov. 5 election, will now be four-year terms.
Carol S. Pynchon has served as a village trustee for the past six years and now serves as deputy mayor under Village Mayor Michael Dalton, who is running unopposed for re-election to the mayor’s seat.
Mrs. Pynchon and Anna M. Sorensen, who is seeking her first political office, are both running on the Democratic line and have launched a joint website, www.votecantonny.com.
Ms. Sorensen moved to Canton in 2013 from California and served as campaign manager for Tedra Cobb’s last congressional race against Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. She’s employed as an assistant sociology professor at SUNY Potsdam.
David C. Curry, a Republican who served 19 years as a trustee and two years as village mayor, is also running. After being in business for 42 years, Mr. Curry sold his bar, Dave’s II, two years ago and said he now has even more time to devote to the village board.
He believes his years of experience and knowledge of the village’s history, make him qualified to win the support of voters.
“Now I’m retired and I have more time to do more things with the village,” Mr. Curry said. “I’m very familiar with Canton and the issues that have gone on over the years. I’m not blind going into this job. I know what to expect. I like being on the village board and I always listen to people’s issues and problems. I didn’t do it for myself, I did it for the people. If someone had a problem I would take care of it for them.”
Mrs. Pynchon said the village board and town board are working collaboratively to move Canton forward. A Canton comprehensive plan is expected to be adopted soon that’s supposed to serve as a blueprint for the future of the town of Canton and villages of Canton and Rensselaer Falls.
“I think it’s been a real positive thing for the community that the village and town work so well together,” she said. “I think there’s good cooperation, good collaboration. ... To work at cross purposes is not particularly effective.”
Mrs. Pynchon said she feels the board has made positive steps during her tenure, including getting a solar array operating that now provides electricity for all municipal buildings, including the Canton Recreational Pavilion. A compost program has been set up that allows residents a place to take their food waste. A new code of ethics for both the town and village is close to being adopted.
The village also received grant funding to clean up and develop Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA), including an area of Riverside Drive.
“I think we’re doing a great job of pulling Canton through a transitional time,” Mrs. Pynchon said. “There’s a lot of good plans in the works, a lot of ideas.”
Ms. Sorensen said she could provide a fresh perspective on the positive things happening in Canton and offer insight into how different groups of people are impacted by governmental policies.
“I think the village is doing great. I think there’s a lot of people working really hard to create a vibrant community and I think I can contribute to that,” Ms. Sorensen said. “In particular, by bringing my perspective as a sociologist.
Economic development and development of the infrastructure needed to support that should be a primary focus, she said.
“I think doing that requires that we’re open to innovative ideas and that means welcoming and including diverse perspectives so that we get the ideas that help us create vibrant community that has the jobs, the housing, the recreational and educational opportunities that everybody needs,” she said.
Ms. Sorensen said she doesn’t disagree with residents who say they wish there were more places to eat downtown, but noted that several new businesses have recently opened on Main Street.
“If we have places to eat downtown, people need to come eat downtown, be downtown, stay downtown, shop downtown,” she said. “There’s several nice shopping places, but people are still shopping on Amazon. You need to find a nice local niche and know what you’re competing with.”
Mr. Curry said he also would like to see more business development downtown and feels the village should focus less on grant funding and more on private investment.
“I’m not saying anything against the present board, but I’m against all this grant money that these projects get handed,” he said. “It seems like every time you turn around a not-for-profit organization is getting a grant. There’s a lot of taxpayer grant money being handed out and a lot to the wrong places.”
He said it was unfortunate that McDonald’s and The Club restaurant closed and that Dairy Queen burned down.
“Those were three places that people liked to go. There’s got to be some way we can attract more business to Canton,” he said.
Mrs. Pynchon said the village also needs to improve its housing stock so that people will want to live in the village, whether they’re senior citizens looking to downsize or younger families.
She said village officials are excited about the potential future of Midtown Plaza, which may be developed by SUNY Canton and private investors.
“We’re excited there’s private investment interest in the Jubilee. There’s been a lot of nice private investment downtown. People here don’t have deep pockets and so you need to count on a lot of people pitching in and doing their part and people are. I think people are genuinely interested and engaged.”
“You have to take it seriously and you have to put a lot of time and effort into it,” Mrs. Pynchon said.
As the campaigning ramps up, Ms. Sorensen said she’s eager to hear from residents about the issues that are important to them.
“Ultimately, that’s what government is about, figuring out what’s important to people and how we can best serve them,” Ms. Sorensen said.