On March 18, two candidates will go up against one another for the mayoral seat and four candidates will compete for two trustee seats. The Journal sent questionnaires to each of these candidates, so each representative could state his or her position. Below are their answers to those questions. The Journal is an objective news organization and does not endorse or support any one candidate or party. William Krebs
William Krebs, of Springville, is running for re-election as Springville mayor. He is endorsed by the Citizen Voice Party. Krebs is a retired English teacher at West Seneca West Senior High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Canisius College and a Master’s of education from the University of Buffalo.
In addition to being mayor, Krebs serves on the board of directors of the Erie County Association of Governments, the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway. He is the vice-president of the Village Officials Association of Erie County, the political liaison to the Pop Warner Trail Steering Committee and the Erie Cattaraugus Rails Trail, a member of the Scoby Dam White Water Park and a member of the Land Use Working Group of One Region Forward. He also started the Springville Property Rehabilitation Program and is the village liaison to the Oishei Mobile Safety Net Team. He has also served as an immigration inspector at the Peace Bridge. He has also held various positions in Boy Scout Troop 543 in Springville and Pack 50 in Buffalo and is a member of the Springville Field and Stream, for which he served as membership secretary in the 1980s; the Springville Concord Elder Network; the Concord Senior Citizens; the Moose and the Concord Historical Society.
Krebs has been mayor since 2006. Before that, he was a trustee from 1999-2005, before which he was a planning board member, starting in 1991.
“Since I retired from teaching, I have devoted more time as mayor to representing Springville within the county and state, to gain regional support for village projects,” Krebs said. “I would like to continue to work on these projects with the many contacts at the county and state level, who have become valuable partners with Springville. The New York Main Program and the Erie County Smart Growth Fund grant are just two examples of these projects underway.”
Krebs said that the village must continue to provide effective and efficient village services, including infrastructure, public safety, police and fire protection which is the main function of a village government.
“We cannot overlook the importance of sound management of the $8,000,000 worth of services that the village provides,” Krebs said.
He also plans to launch Springville’s streetscape and gateway improvements, address distressed properties with multiple strategies, including partnership with Erie County, and to reach out to town, county and state partners to reuse the Buffalo & Pittsburgh right-of-way as a park and trail, as well as continuing to grow Springville’s regional and economic partnerships, starting with a regenerated Springville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“As mayor, one goal I always have is to be sure that village employees deliver the best service to residents,” he said. “Our top-level employees communicate with elected officials on a daily basis, regarding these services. Also, the village needs to implement our Village Center Development Plan, which includes the streetscape and gateway developments, as well as the development of our village center, including Mechanic and Franklin Streets, and the conversion of the B&P right-of-way to a trail.”
He added that, while these projects are ongoing, additional funding and action by the board will be necessary.
He said his other goal is to communicate with residents. “As mayor, I am charged with running open and transparent public meetings. My background in communication and school has been helpful in facilitating orderly discussions about village projects, and to assure that the discussion clearly state the reasons for board action.
“Another more personal goal I have is to explain to residents the exact function of a village government,” he continued. “Gov. Cuomo says that we have 10,500 government entities in N.Y. and that we should consolidate these. In Erie County, we have heard some call for the abolition of its 16 villages. We all must understand very clearly how our village has functioned since 1834 when it was incorporated, and why it has remained the most efficient form of government to deliver much-needed services.”
Krebs also spoke to the election process itself, saying that “Springville village elections have traditionally been free from partisan and party politics. That changed in the election, two years ago,” referencing a platform the People’s Empowerment Party published locally, which, according to Krebs, “are based misinformation or lies and a misunderstanding of village government, as well as “falsely accuse the village of ‘demonizing’ Veterans, not giving incentives to downtown businesses, disrespecting agriculture, giving up home-rule, and permitting favoritism, waste and corruption. In fact, the village supports Veterans in a number of ways, provided over $200,000 to downtown businesses through New York Main, helped promote agri-business in our region and village, represents village government in the county and state and operates an efficient operation of governmental services.
“These people call for ... spending tax dollars on parties, funding a local bus service, terminating our electric interdependence that brings hydro power to our village, ending our participation in regional development, and ... to abolish village government. I and the trustee candidates of Citizen Voice reject this type of leadership for our village. We are proven, qualified, independent candidates, who drew up our own platform which is a comprehensive plan of action, not slogans. We came together on a common petition because we have the best qualifications and best action plan for our village. Negative visions and narrow special interests will hurt the comprehensive services and the broad vision of planned growth the village needs. Self-interest, narrow focus and negativity has impeded our development. We need a positive voice to lead our village government.”Thomas Czechowski
Tommy Czechowski, of Springville, is running for mayor as part of The People’s Empowerment Party. He is a certified demolition, asbestos and lead abatement contractor, as well as a project monitor air quality control technician and a Catholic school graduate. He has been involved in Little League baseball and football and “innumerable children’s activities.”
Czechowski said he is running for mayor as a “concerned and enthusiastic village resident,” using his “natural ability to build relationships and bring people together.
“This is my first foray into public service, but I think the fact that I am not an entrenched politician but rather a common man is exactly what the people want and need – a fresh perspective,” he said. “Village government needs to go beyond just providing services and maintaining the status quo.”
He said that, from his perspective, the top challenges facing the village are “our complete loss of energy independence, stale, unimaginative incumbent leadership that is only focused on the status quo, disenfranchisement of the vast majority of village residents from their government, inefficiency of government, resulting in taxes that are too high, a basic paralysis stemming from unimaginative, fear-based functioning that does everything without the involvement of the residents.”
Elements of the People’s Empowerment Party include establishing quarterly social gatherings for residents to have informal discussions about issues; an internet forum; energy independence; a focus on local business; an opposition to the New York SAFE Act; decisions by referendum; opposition to water fluoridation; Veteran support; a re-evaluation of police traffic enforcement in Springville; creation of a convenience shuttle; consolidation of services, including asking whether village government is necessary; respect for the agricultural traditions; opposition to regional land use and “One Region Forward” and customized plans for distressed properties.
His primary goals if elected include “to get people back involved, through ballot initiatives and frequent public gatherings,” and to “vigorously pursue renewed energy self-sufficiency and to create a better environment for locally owned business to thrive.
“I would be there to represent the people – not to rule them.”
He is a single father and has four children. Terry Skelton
Terry Skelton, of Springville, is running for trustee on the Citizen’s Voice party. He works in IT Operations and as the Systems Engineering Section Head at Moog Inc., where he has worked for more than 32 years. He holds an associate degree in Computer Information Services from Erie Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with a concentration in business from Medaille College.
He has been a Springville Youth Inc. board member for 23 years and an SYI boys baseball, girls softball, basketball and soccer coach for more than 25 years. He has also coached Springville Colts Football for 10 years and was the member secretary and remains a member of the Springville Field and Stream Inc. Skelton was named Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2004. He has been a village trustee for five years, and has served as deputy mayor for two. He was also a member of the village zoning board of appeals.
“I’m running to retain my trustee seat on the village board,” Skelton said. “I have been a board member for the past five years and feel my experience and knowledge of village business and local law will help us continue the positive progress we are making in Springville.”
As a current trustee, Skelton said he has a working knowledge with developing and managing large budgets.
“I manage a staff of 20 technical professionals at Moog, across two departments, with budgets over $15 million. I have had the opportunity to attend regional association meetings with other local officials to discuss issues that affect our village.
“I believe one of the biggest challenges facing the village is the constant pressure from Albany to stay below prescribed tax caps and the proposed freeze on property taxes,” Skelton said. “Mandated cuts in spending will negatively affect the quality of the services the village provides its residents.”
Skelton also said the village must continue to address distressed properties that have become neglected due to economic conditions or the inability or unwillingness of homeowners to take care of them.
“The village has worked with county officials to recognize these issues and help with remediation,” Skelton explained, “These come in several forms: Low-cost programs for qualified homeowners to help with repairs, working with the banks to facilitate getting abandoned properties back into the hands of private ownership and land banking, where properties are purchased by an outside organization for the purpose of reselling back into private ownership. We’ve also stepped up code enforcement to make the individual and the surrounding homeowners aware of village efforts to remedy the situations.”
If re-elected, Skelton said he plans to continue actions the village is already undertaking, including gateway and streetscape improvements, the railroad right of way and to “continue to grow and develop relationships with regional and economic entities to bring benefits to Springville.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the village residents over the past five years,” Skelton said. “My hope is that the residents see value in my knowledge and experience and elect me back to the board, for another four years.”
Skelton has been married for 33 years and has three children and three grandchildren. Robert Laskowski
Robert Laskowski, of Springville, is running for a trustee seat, endorsed by the Citizens Voice party. He works in sales and is the board president for The Children’s League. He is a past president and board member of SYI and a past board member of the Springville Lions Club.
Laskowski said that the top challenge the village is facing is distressed properties, due to the many parties involved. If elected, he hopes “to continue to move Springville forward in its growth, both downtown and in the surrounding village limits, try to help with the distressed properties within the village."
“I really do believe that the village of Springville is a great place to raise and grow a family and that the current board of trustees are doing a fine job,” Laskowski concluded. “And the village of Springville is more than just two buildings.” Samantha Skura
Samantha Skura, of Springville, is endorsed by Revitalize Springville to run for village trustee. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Social Education and is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology. She works in her family business, and is actively involved in Springville First United Methodist, serving on numerous committees and helping to prepare for the church’s 200th-year celebration. In the past, Skura has served as student body president at Roberts Wesleyan College.
“Springville is a wonderful place to live, work and play,” Skura said. “We are excited to raise our family here. I am here to stay, and would like the opportunity to raise Springville to its potential. Springville is great, but I think it can be a lot better.”
Skura said that “there has not been adequate solutions on distressed properties” and that community members are “not involved in decisions.
“Downtown has so much potential, but needs creative solutions,” she added. “I will address distressed properties in unique, individual cases. We need to come up with innovative ways to keep those properties alive. I will fully engage the community to receive input on what they want the future of Springville to be. The community is what makes this village great, and local government should value all opinions.”
Skura also pledged to “work with business owners and building owners to find creative solutions to make a more bustling downtown.”
Skura is married to Luke Skura and plans to start a family in Springville. Robert Moriarty
Robert Moriarty, of Springville, is running for a trustee seat, as endorsed by Revitalize Springville. He is the area director for Top Line Restaurants and received his Bachelor of Arts in finance from St. Bonaventure University.
Moriarty is an SYI soccer coach, involved in Cub Scouts and the parent-teacher association. In all, he has 19 years of management experience which he said has “allowed me to understand the importance of truly listening to others, providing leadership and ensuring accountability.
“I am running to add my voice in helping to shape the future of the village and provide an open-minded, fresh perspective to all ideas and decisions that come before the board,” Moriarty said.
He listed distressed properties, the success of small businesses and maintaining low-cost energy as top issues the village faces, and he plans to research and implement alternative energy services, ensure that all agencies are working together to achieve common goals and “look for creative ways to attract new businesses and assist existing businesses.
“Once elected, I will work to honor the trust and faith placed in me by the community – our friends and neighbors.”
Moriarty is married with four children.