2017 Election Questionnaire: Russell Stokes, candidate for Cortland Mayor
Mayoral Candidate Russell Stokes submitted this questionnaire, answering the Daily Chronicle’s questions in the 2017 Mayoral race.
Office sought: Cortland Mayor
1) Why are you the best candidate?
I have 43 years of proven leadership, supervisory experience, and training, having served in municipal law enforcement. Given my tenure and life experiences I have the ability to see “The Big Picture.” I have demonstrated my commitment to the Cortland community since 1991. I have served as Mayor since 2013. As promised, I have inspired and accomplished improvements throughout our community which have been recognized by not only our residents but visitors and I have restored transparent government. Under my leadership our town is now prospering and there is interest in commercial growth which has been lacking. Our town is moving forward. I personally paid for the expense of my campaign. I am not indebted to anyone except the hardworking, law abiding, taxpaying residents of my community.
2) What are the biggest issues facing the town government?
Our town is still recovering from the recession. It struck us especially hard because of the rapid residential development that was taking place and the creativity by some to accommodate that growth. SSA’s were created to provide for water supply and wastewater treatment. Those SSA’s still prove to be problematic. Our water and wastewater facilities are state-of-the-art. However, our wastewater facility requires areas to spray irrigate the effluent. When development stopped those areas had not yet been provided to the town. It is that situation which dictates how much residential growth the town can see prior to this matter being resolved.
3) Cortland has had issues in the past with developers. What must the town government do differently in the future?
I am not personally familiar with what you’re referring to as issues. However, I believe we should learn from the previous mistake of allowing rapid residential growth. I also believe that developers and builders should be held accountable to abide with our zoning laws, town ordinances and all codes associated with construction as well as developer agreements.
4) What must Cortland do to realize its potential?
The Town of Cortland is over 150 years old. Historically it has had its ups and downs. Its potential will be determined in the future after the problems that are at hand today are resolved. Cortland was on its way until the recession hit. The town first started seeing recovery during my tenure as Mayor. We still have much to do. I am mission oriented. We will get it done.
5) How can the town board limit or reduce the property tax burden?
No one likes to pay taxes. No one likes to raise taxes. We are trying to attract commercial business to off-set our financial needs thru retail sales taxes. We are having success through our partnership with the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation. Very little of our property taxes go to the Town of Cortland. EVERYTHING ends with a dollar sign. It costs money to provide services and commodities that residents and businesses demand from municipal government. The cost of providing both increases every year everywhere. The Town Board approves the annual tax levy seeking only what additional monies are needed to meet those needs. Our Department Heads are expected to work within their annual budgets.
6) The town has had some success attracting businesses of late. What can be done to continue that trend?
We need to continue doing exactly what we have been doing the past four years. We need to continue enforcing our property maintenance codes and making visual improvements in all areas of our community to make it marketable and desirable to investors. Some positive news coverage of our community by our local media would also help.