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Professional Civil/Environmental Engineer specializing in infrastructure project and programs including traffic planning; multi-use trail planning and design; highway design and construction; water and wastewater systems planning, design and construction; asset management of electric transmission and distribution grid assets, and intelligent transportation systems design and construction.
Experience and Qualifications
As a licensed professional civil and environmental engineer and planner, I have managed many infrastructure programs and projects working with town leaders, funding groups, review agencies and developers. I will use these skills to provide professional input and perspective as a Town Board member. As a fiscal conservative, I understand efficient and effective management of resources.
Improvements to the Town should align with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated. The Comprehensive Plan is paramount to identify and scope development opportunities to address the Town’s short-term and long-term needs. These needs are typically determined from resident responses to a detailed questionnaire or structured focus groups. I have listened to many people in Rush and one of the Town’s needs is affordable independent living homes for seniors. The largest group within Rush currently is the 45 to 65-year-old group and they will need affordable housing as they reach retirement age and wish to downsize yet stay in the Town. The Comprehensive Plan would identify areas in the Town to accommodate this type of development. Then, outreach to developers and development agencies as described in question 2 would be the mechanism to promote and guide development to address this need.
Current State, County and Town codes and development review processes do provide a high level of protection of the environment for any development. In the update of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, Town codes can be reviewed to identify any outdated codes or codes that are already covered by County or State codes. Current Town boards have the experience and knowledge to review project proposals to balance development with environmental protection.
To promote development in the Town, there should be discussions with State and County business development agencies and also with developers that typically build in Monroe and Livingston County. These discussions can identify potential development opportunities. If there are opportunities that align with Town plans and goals, the Town representatives can reach out to these developers to promote the Town plans and gain understanding of the criteria that would promote interest for development in the Town.
A budget contingency for the Town of Rush has been in place for many years and has put the Town in a fairly healthy position to weather initial challenges due to COVID-19 impacts. These impacts have affected sales tax and town department services revenue. The phased reopening of the Town services and programs will be based on the State mandates and length of restrictions dictated, and there is a lot of uncertainty of the actual revenue shortfalls.
The Town Board and town operating departments will need to explore strategies to reduce spending including a review of staffing levels necessary to provide for the limited services, evaluating whether essential tasks are worked remotely, and scrutinizing equipment and supply purchases. Only as a worst-case scenario should salary reductions or staff furloughs be considered. We are optimistic that the re-opening of the Town will sufficiently restore Town services to provide enough operational revenue to sustain the Town for 2020 and beyond.
The Town provides needed services and programs responding to community needs and desires and are considered essential to the quality of life enjoyed in our Town. The question is not necessarily what is essential, but what are the minimum services that are able to be provided based on the State mandates. The Town needs to evaluate, on a bi-weekly basis, the services required based on the mandate and make the appropriate staff adjustments based on each department’s review of their operations. Equipment and supply requests should be frozen and/or highly scrutinized before procurement.
There are many ways that communication between the Town government and the residents can be improved. Enhanced communication and understanding in both directions is always important, but never more important than when confronted by something like this pandemic.
1. Continue to allow two-way conversation during Town Board meetings during the public comment period.
2. Use social media, like Twitter and Facebook to communicate events or opportunities for community involvement.
3. An annual open forum providing an informal gathering for Town officials to listen to and discuss Town residents' concerns,
4. Invest in audio-transcription equipment or service to capture discussions and to facilitate preparation of Town meeting summaries.
5. Recordings of Town meetings can be posted on the Town's website to allow residents that were unable to attend the meeting to listen to it.
5. Improve the website to be more user friendly and provide FAQ pages for each Town department.
Experience and Qualifications
Having a long and active career in law enforcement, I have the attributes necessary to effectively communicate and advocate for all people of the Town and understand the importance of following procedures in Town operations.
I would like to improve on the ability to encourage economic growth of small business opportunities to choose Rush as their place of business; focusing on vacant/commercial lots already established. I would accomplish this through increased marketing strategies and involved oversight of project plans to help navigate established Town processes.
As a predominant farming community, future development of any sort needs to be carefully weighed against environmental issues. Careful consideration must be given to environmental studies and their impact on the surrounding areas of any given project. Focusing on already established commercial sites should be the areas of consideration for development to reduce environmental issues.
Once we reach a post COVID-19 status, budgets will have to be trimmed to meet the economic stress that it will leave. Encouraging economic growth of the community so more funds exist to help minimize the financial shortfalls will be a strategy I focus on. Researching of available grants for the community would also be a strategy I would utilize in trying to work with reduced budgets.
Highway and traffic safety will always be at the forefront of prioritizing funding in the community. Increasing senior services within the community should also be prioritized and given consideration for additional funding.
TECHNOLOGY!!! Give the people the opportunity to be heard! Introduce as many platforms that you can for the people to express themselves and know that they are being listened to. Make it a two way street!
Imagery analyst at Eagleview Technologies.
Experience and Qualifications
Education: B.S. Environmental Science, B.A. Geography from the University of Vermont, current Masters student at University of Aberdeen.
Work history: Since 2019, aerial triangulation technician. Previously worked at nonprofits (Lake Champlain Sea Grant), universities (Grossman School of Business), and an intern for the Lt. Governor of Vermont.
Versed in a variety of spatial analysis software, including ArcGIS, QGIS, Inpho, and Bentley.
Updating our comprehensive plan is one of the biggest priorities I bring to the town board. With an updated comprehensive plan, we can set goals for long-term solutions in a number of categories. We can change our zoning to continue to preserve open space while ensuring Rush has a home for folks of every ability, background, and income. We can develop a plan for climate resiliency and address public utilities like fresh water, waste water, and internet. And, we can include every voice in planning where we can put renewable energy systems and other large developments.
To do this, we need input from as many residents as possible. I will help develop an initiative to collect feedback from our neighbors with proven techniques like the EPA's guide for rural development or other survey-based programs that allow for collaborative discussions between board members and members of the community.
Between all our farms, forested lands, and open spaces, Rush has a unique mosaic of land uses that give the town its rural character. It will be critical that our town zones match the needs for preservation with the need for expanded housing and business opportunities. Soliciting feedback from residents will be a first step towards determining ideal places for new developments, like senior housing or apartments for young families, and committing other areas for long-term agricultural or recreational protection. Given our proximity to so many other small farming towns, we should look to other rural communities for examples in finding an appropriate balance of growth of new resources, while still holding to strong environmental protections.
The budgeting strategy for upcoming years will be one filled with difficult decisions, but finding ways to convert costly in-person resources into widely accessible online resources is one way the town can appropriately accommodate for budget shortfalls. It is also important that our most valuable resources, the town employees, are continually supported during this time of crisis. Their work ensures that resources for all residents, whether at the library, clerk's office, or highway department, is provided at the highest standard. So, while programs may need to evolve to be more efficient, the work of our employees must be supported.
It is additionally clear that maintaining constant communication with county and state representatives will be critical for the foreseeable future, as any source of funding, from grants to special municipal, can mean the difference in providing the town some flexibility with budgeting.
Every service the town provides is truly essential. Our highway department ensures that our roadways and public utilities are well maintained, our library ensures residents remain connected through books, internet access, and reading programs, our recreation department provides important afterschool programs for families, and the list goes on.
Any cuts that will need to be made must be done with a holistic approach, so that no resident is more impacted by cuts than another.
Information is moving online faster than ever, and the pandemic has only expedited this transition. With more people getting news from online sources, it will be critical for the town to develop a new communication strategy to ensure residents are informed and up-to-date on town activity.
As your councilmember, I will strongly advocate for expanding the town's online communication through an accessible, easy to use website, official Facebook page, and dedicated e-newsletters. These low-cost solutions will provide spaces for every town department, from the library to the highway department, to share updates and events from one central town source. It will still be important to keep print newsletters available as each resident gets news differently, but redundancy will benefit everyone. Great work has already been done by Supervisor Kusse, Councilwoman Corbin, and Deputy Supervisor Mosetti, and I am eager to keep the momentum going in the right direction.
Experience and Qualifications
I currently serve as the Community Affairs Assistant for the Office of State Senator Patrick Gallivan where I regularly have the opportunity to address constituent concerns and represent the Senator at community meetings and functions.
I previously was elected to the Rush Henrietta School Board in 2006 and served the Rush and Henrietta communities in that role for nine years. During my tenure my job included review and update of district policies, discussion and design of new policy when appropriate, review of the programs, services, and facilities that would meet district needs, and the delivery of budgets that were fiscally responsible. In addition, I have been active in many community activities including being past Treasurer of The Family Advocates of Heritage Christian Service.
One major issue that I would address if elected to the Town Board is the current Website. It is outdated and not easy to navigate. I believe that a well designed Site would improve the experience of residents as they are looking for information related to their needs. It's is difficult to locate meeting agenda's and minutes. Looking for information on codes and zoning laws is cumbersome. Recreation applications and facility rental information is erroneous. To accomplish this I would research other Municipalities offer and work with members of Town staff to design and implement a tool that the community needs.
I believe that research and input is the most important aspect in promoting development. The Rush community is proud of it small rural character, but there is also great concern that the Senior citizens not be able to stay in their homes will relocate to other communities because we do not have developments that would allow them to stay. One suggestion has been to allow sewer extension into the northern portion of the town so developers can build a Senior Patio Home community.
I believe that exploring ideas like this are critical to keeping families here. The suggestion of mass residential development does not fit the footprint of this Town but a well thought out plan could provide more opportunity for young families and empty nesters. To accomplish this, there will need to be conversation and surveys of the community to determine a balanced, well-thought out plan to move forward.
The effects of the current crisis impacting all municipalities could be felt for several years to come. By taking a deep, detailed look at the budgets for all departments is critical. The need to tighten will be necessary but does not have to devastate the quality of services offered. Exploring other sources of revenue will be very important in keeping the budget balanced and still offer the services our community has come to appreciate.
The Town Hall services, the after-school child care programs, the Seniors programs are all much desired and appreciated. The Library offers many programs for young and old alike. Having very difficult conversations with each of the leaders of these departments will be used to determining what is essential. Once you identify the "necessary", then you figure out how to provide the "nice". There are grant programs and fundraising opportunities that could help supplement the monies lost because of this crisis.
As I said, a much better developed Website would go a LONG way in helping residents get the information they are looking for. I also believe that the use of social media such as Facebook are critical in gathering and sharing information in a timely manner. Knowing that this might require having an expert within the Town staff, it is something that is completely justifiable if the residents of the community are receiving better service.