FORESTVILLE – Mayor Linda Aures has decided not to seek re-election, after serving just one year as mayor and one year previously as a trustee.
Aures was elected last year over Beth Bowker, who had been deputy mayor. She had just one year as a village trustee when she ran for the unexpired term of Charles Brewster, who resigned as mayor when he moved outside the village. Brewster was later hired as superintendent of the village’s Streets and Water Department.
Aures, who announced her decision Saturday, has a favorite for her successor.
“I would definitely put my support behind Kevin Johnson,” who was elected trustee last year, said Aures. Johnson has been active on several committees for the Village Board. Aures noted her transition into the mayoral post was made difficult because she was unaware about key issues, including a $250,000 debt for the demolition of a building on Route 39.
She said she was not a trustee at the time of emergency demolition, which was ordered by Chautauqua County and Town of Hanover officials after the building was declared unsafe.
Recently, Village Board members learned the entire amount on a five-year note for the demolition is due. Village Attorney Michael Sullivan advised the board its options are limited and he is seeking an extension on paying the debt.
“It looks like taxpayers will have to pay the remaining due with the next tax bill,” said Aures, who noted the issue is currently being litigated between the building’s owner and Chautauqua County.
The debt is roughly double the annual budget of the tiny village, which could result in a significant tax bill for residents.
“I am still hoping something could happen because I honestly did not know that this was something that had not been paid, at least in part,” she said.
Candidates for mayor and two board seats will likely emerge from caucuses to be held soon: Democrats, at 7 p.m. Thursday and Republicans, 6 p.m. Jan. 28. There will be an election in March for the expiring terms of the mayor and trustees Dave Bishoff and Ron Lineman. All terms are for two years.
Aures said she still hopes that Forestville can shift its March elections to November to save money. She said the annual election costs the village about $600.
“I think November elections make sense, not only to save money, but because it seems more people are thinking about going to vote in November,” she said.