HOPKINTON — Seven-year Town Supervisor Susan M. Wood is looking to retain her position Tuesday in a two-way race against newcomer Vickie L. French.
One thing both candidates agreed on was that they want to move on from the subject of the North Ridge Wind Project, which the energy company Avangrid had been planning to establish in the town.
Ms. Wood, a Republican, said she is running to continue the work that she started when she took over as supervisor following the death of Marvin Rust in 2012 and was re-elected in 2015. That includes the progress made on getting the town buildings updated, continuing to keep property taxes under the property tax cap and start looking for more opportunities to bring money into the town.
“I believe it is a dead issue,” Ms. Wood said about the wind project. “Working with the Wind Advisory Council, we put in a strong wind law, so I think that Avangrid is not interested in us anymore.”
Both Ms. Wood and Ms. French said they would “like to see the town come back together and heal,” following the polarizing effect the wind project had on the town.
On June 22, 2018, a notice of closure was submitted by the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. It stated it had received a letter on June 18, 2018 from Avangrid saying it would not pursue an Article 10 application.
The decision followed the passing of a wind energies law, April 26, 2018, which limited the wind farm that Avangrid had hoped to build.
“I would just like to reassure the voters that I am not here to bring wind back as some people are still stating,” Ms. French said. “I just think there are things that are more important besides that.”
Ms. Wood said she wants to focus on keeping government transparent and accessible to residents, maintain and properly appropriate taxpayer dollars, maintain a multi-year financial plan to make sure the town is headed in a positive direction and continue to seek alternative funding to enhance services.
“I think (voters) should check my name (on the ballot) because of my past record and the experience I’ve gotten over the last seven years as the town supervisor,” Ms. Wood said. “I think I have the record and people know that I listen to them. I go out of my way to respond to everyone.”
For Ms. French, a member of the Silent Majority Party, moving beyond wind, she said she wants to help job growth, promote local businesses and entice new businesses to come to town.
“We need to increase our taxable value of the town,” she said. “It’s pretty stagnant when you don’t have new businesses to help you with that tax base growth, and therefore it puts the burden on everybody.”
Ms. French said she wants to address the concern that, aside from the town taxpayers, sales tax and the state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program were the major sources of revenue for the town and that residents haven’t been receiving the state School Tax Relief (STAR) exemption, which provides a partial exemption from school taxes for most owner-occupied, primary residences.
“I think we need to do something,” she said. “I’m retired. I had not planned to take this on. But there were things that I just thought that maybe a fresh person could move on beyond the wind and help things get mended again.”
THE WOOD FILE:
nName: Susan M. Wood
nOccupation: Recently retired from Clarkson University
nFamily: Husband Ernest Wood, daughter Sheri Langdon and son Benjamin Wood
nEducation: High School
nCivic Work, elected offices: current town supervisor, secretary to Hopkinton Fire Commissioners, past member of Hopkinton SummerFest Committee, work at most fire department events
THE FRENCH FILE
nName: Vickie French
nOccupation: Retired Hopkinton Town Clerk
nFamily: Husband Duane, Daughter Jennifer
nEducation: Graduated from Parishville-Hopkinton High School 1975
nCivic, Elected Offices: Bi-Centennial Committee, Co-Chair Hopkinton Summer Fest, work at Maple Fest, helped with numerous community dinners, awarded Town Clerk of the year in District 9 in 2009, on committee to bring installment payment of taxes to St. Lawrence County , pushed for the county to share the surcharges collected on installments with the town. Elected Town Clerk served as the Town Clerk from January 1, 1982 until my retirement on September 30, 2018. I was Budget Officer for 22 of those years.