Two political newcomers aim to unseat two incumbents looking to remain on the Lancaster Town Board and maintain the years-long Democratic hold on town government.
Those in the Lancaster GOP ranks, hoping for “a comeback team,” preach reform, leadership, transparency and accountability. The Democratics hold firm to what they terms a record of success.
Republicans Patrick F. Sportelli, 30, and Robert E. Leary, 55, both bring finance, real estate and investigative skills to the table. They face an uphill climb trying to beat longtime veteran Democratic Councilman Ronald Ruffino Sr., 52, and John M. Abraham Jr., 37.
The seats carry four-year terms. Council members are paid $18,975 a year.
Sportelli’s campaign platform parallels some of the themes promoted by Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli, the lone Republican on the Town Board.
“I do like that we’re growing, but I think the growth needs to be managed better,” said Sportelli, who has lived in the town for six years and serves on the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
“If we are responsible in spending, we should be able to cut taxes. The town should be able to, because our revenue keeps going up every year,” he said.
Leary, an assistant vice president for M&T Bank and a retired supervisory special agent with 26 years in federal law enforcement, is a fiscal conservative.
Leary pledged to make sure that tax dollars are spent effectively and responsibly.
“The current Democratic board has been in power for 10 years, and many people are tired of the board in there and want a change,” he said. “It also seems there’s a lack of accountability on the part of the board. I can guarantee that Pat Sportelli and I will be transparent.”
Leary also said he has a strong financial investigative background, along with extensive experience in contracts, employee hiring and budgets.
“I am not looking to cut any essential town jobs, but as town employees retire or leave their town jobs, we need to take a hard look at whether or not it is warranted to hire a full-time employee to backfill the position left vacant,” Leary said.
The Democratic councilmen defend their record. Ruffino, a 12-year councilman, is a vice president at HSBC Bank and is running on the Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Family lines.
Ruffino’s platform is to provide quality services at reasonable rates and to make sure that youths and seniors are represented so they don’t have to seek services outside the community. He lauded strides made in senior programs and the youth bureau.
He said he will be vigilant in watching the budget.
“I am in favor of the state tax cap that is being mandated,” Ruffino said. “I will look closely at the town’s proposed budget, and if there are increases, I will look for answers.”
Ruffino said the biggest issue facing the town is keeping taxes at a reasonable rate, while continuing to provide quality services. “With all of the mandates that are levied upon us, this continues to be the most challenging issue we face.”
Abraham, a Lancaster High School social studies teacher, is seeking a second term and carries the Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families lines. He was first appointed to the board in 2008 to fill out the remainder of Mark Montour’s term when he became town justice. Abraham was elected to his first full term in 2009.
“One of the issues I want to address in my second term is abandoned and foreclosed properties in Lancaster,” Abraham said. “Having these homes in a neighborhood causes property values to drop, and leads to other problems with rodents and looters.”
Abraham said he wants to find ways to provide services while keeping taxes down. “Some things that I have done to address this included updating highway equipment,” he said. “Much of this equipment has been used for more than 20 to 30 years, and by making these much-needed upgrades, will save the town money in the long run on maintenance costs.”
Abraham also is concerned about the town’s infrastructure. He said he worked with the highway superintendent to bond money to update and fix bridges, roads and culverts.