Next week, residents of six of Livingston County’s nine villages will head to the polls and cast their votes for candidates seeking village offices.
Initially slated for March 18, Gov. Andrew Cuomo postponed village elections due to the coronavirus pandemic. They’re now on for Sept. 15. Polls are open from noon to 9 a.m. To find your polling place, call the Livingston County Board of Elections at (585) 243-7090 or visit its website.
There are races in the village of Avon, Caledonia, Geneseo, Leicester, Lima and Nunda. Candidates seeking office in Avon and Caledonia are unopposed. Below is a breakdown of village candidates and the offices they’re seeking:
Incumbent Thomas Freeman is seeking another four-year term as mayor of Avon. He’s unopposed and running as a Democrat. William Zeh and Patrick McCormick are, likewise, running unopposed for two open seats on the village board. Both men are running as Republicans.
There are no contested races in Caledonia. Republican incumbent Mark Riggi is seeking another four-year term as justice while Dorothy Grant-Fletcher and Gerald O’ Donoghue, both Republicans, are running unopposed for two open village board seats.
In Geneseo, there are two contested races for a village justice seat and two village trustee seats.
Incumbent Justice Kathleen Houston is seeking another term on the Republican and Geneseo United party lines. She’s facing David Kleine, who’s running on the Democratic and Geneseo Together party lines.
Kleine has been a resident of Livingston County since 1966. He’s a graduate of Livonia Central School and attended college at Monroe Community College, Alfred University and RIT.
He is a former Livingston County Sheriff’s deputy and private investigator and has worked for 20 years as a real estate broker.
Three people are seeking two opens seats on the village board.
Eddie Lee is running alongside fellow candidate Katarina Woods on the Democratic and Geneseo Together party lines. Village resident Bob Wilcox is also staging a write-in campaign for a trustee seat.
Lee has called Geneseo home since 2011 and has worked in county and state government and budgeting for 32 years.
He has experience with non-profits, including the Special Olympics, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Geneseo Valley Council on the Arts and Livingston CARES, and previously se4rved as president of the SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association.
“I will serve the Geneseo community with knowledge, integrity and energy,” said Lee.
Woods grew up in the Hudson Valley and is now a junior at SUNY Geneseo, where she studies history, adolescent education and museum studies.
She’s served as a sustainability coordinator and student ambassador with the college and is a Gold Award recipient – the highest honor of the Girl Scouts of America.
If elected, Woods said she will seek to build strong relationships between village residents and students at SUNY Geneseo.
Wilcox previously served on the village board for eight years. He most recently ran for a trustee seat in 2016 but was defeated by Mary Rutigliano and Matthew Cook, then students at SUNY Geneseo.
Wilcox said this past experience uniquely qualifies him for serving on the board. He said he’s running because he wants to give people a choice.
Four candidates are seeking two open seats on the village board in Leicester.
Ken Rizzo and Janet Green are running as Democrats. Thomas Frantz and Daniel Christiano are running as Republicans.
Frantz, an incumbent, is seeking his third trustee term. He’s lived in the area since 1993 and says it’s a job he enjoys doing and hopes to continue doing.
Frantz said securing a tenant for Leicester’s old elementary school building, which the village owns, and improving the village’s water system would be among his priorities if elected to another term.
“I want to work with all the village officials to make this area a better place to live for all the residents,” he said.
Incumbent John Correll is running unopposed for Lima mayor as a Republican.
Four candidates are seeking two open seats on the village board. Eric Baker and David Cabrera are running on the Democratic and Lima Community Advancement party lines. Joshua Petraitis and John Skiptunas are running as Republicans.
Baker, 70, has lived in Lima for the past 43 years with his wife, Ginny. He earned his associate’s degree from Paul Smith’s College and a bachelor’s from SUNY Plattsburgh. He retired from the Monroe County Health Department after a 40-year career where he specialized in water quality monitoring. He was also employed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office as a forensic toxicologist, specialized in post-mortem toxicology, before retiring in 2012.
“Since retirement, I have been spending my time volunteering in the local Friends in Service Here organization, driving primarily elderly individuals to and from doctors’ appointments, which I find very rewarding,” Baker said. “In addition, I volunteer at the Honeoye Falls Food Pantry.”
If elected, Baker said he’d focus on bringing people and business to Lima, which has lost its grocery store and bank within the past few years.
“To attract people and businesses moving to Lima, we need to provide them with a reason to come here,” he said. “There are several initiatives already in the formulating stage that will work to that end, such as developing a town-center park next to our Town/Village Hall.”
Such a park could serve as a summer music and movie venue if coupled with construction of a pavilion or gazebo, said Baker.
“Beautification of the village center by expanding tree and flower plantings to enhance its aesthetics are needed, especially after the necessary removal of the diseased ash trees that adorned many of our streets,” he said. “We should take full advantage of grant monies that may be available to assist us in installing a public Wi-Fi network in the village and to help existing businesses win funding for facade improvements.”
Cabrera moved to Lima with his wife, Misty, in 2011. They have two young children.
Cabrera, who got his master’s degree in micro-electronic engineering from RIT, is a surface development engineer with Corning Inc., where he specializes in developing glass products for use in video displays.
Cabrera said he decided to run so that he can help people be heard, listen to their ideas and concerns and try to support the village.
“I am also hoping to bring a younger perspective to the decision making process and support it through my project management experience,” he said.
Cabrera cited rehabilitation of the village center as one of the area’s he’d focus on if elected to the village board.
“I believe the village needs to build up an attractive center where friends and families can come together and further enjoy the place they live in, meet new people and make new friends,” he said. “I believe that this is something that we, as a village, have unfortunately been losing, and it’s reflected not only on the facade of the area but also on the businesses that have come and gone.”
If elected, Cabrera said he’d seek to secure grant funding for the village that could help fund the rehabilitation.
“Once people are out and about enjoying the village center, this will attract businesses to come in and invest - perhaps a local grocery store to support the local community,” he said. “I want to be a part of a village board that first and foremost serves the residents of Lima. I’ve been attending board meetings to expand my knowledge of the inner workings of the village and eagerly look forward to improving on our great village.”
Skiptunas moved to Lima with his wife about five years ago and works at Barilla’s pasta factory in Avon. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., his family moved to Rochester when he was a young children and again when he was older, to Virginia, where Skiptunas graduated high school and attended college.
After gaining his optician’s license, he moved to Houston, Texas, where he practiced for a time before becoming a plumber.
“As technology caught up with the common practice of contact lenses, which was my specialty, it was dwindling and I couldn’t excel in my industry,” he said. “My best friend was a plumber, I’ve always been good with my hands… so he was training me on the side. Within two years, I got my plumber’s license and started my own business as a plumbing contractor.”
After moving to Lima – his wife is originally from the area – Skiptunas threw himself into its Rotary chapter and served back-to-back terms as president. He credits his membership in Rotary for getting him involved to a greater degree in the goings on of Lima.
“As a leader in Rotary, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the community in terms of how Rotary can give back,” he said. “I figured by going to the village board and trying to hear some of the residents’ complaints, maybe we can come up with some solutions.”
Skiptunas considered himself a people person and, if elected as a trustee, hopes to bring his practical problem-solving to bear in the affairs of the village board.
“I love working with people,” he said. “I love listening and trying to create solutions to problems.”
Skiptunas has served on the village’s Lima Park Commission, which advises the village regarding decisions relating to physical improvements to Mark Tubbs Memorial Park. If elected, Skiptunas said he hopes to continue pursuing upgrades at Mark Tubbs, including the construction of a year-round community center.
“We want something where the grandparents can sit out front in a rocking chair, play a game of checkers or chess and watch the kids play on the playground fro ma central location,” he said. “Make it completely accessible all the way around, make it functional for everyone in the community.”
Josh Petraitis is running alongside Skiptunas on the Republican party line. Petraitis grew up in Springwater and graduated from Wayland-Cohocton Central Schools.
He moved with his wife to North Carolina for a teaching job, but moved back to the area to be closer to family.
“I was a teacher at Mount Morris for a year, a teacher at Wayland-Cohocton for seven years, then assistant middle school principal at Wayland as well,” he said. “I stopped doing that about three years ago. I currently work at Elim Gospel Church right now, right here in Lima. We’re planning another church in Dansville and I’m the campus director for that” as well.
Petraitis said he decided to run to make a positive impact in the community in which he lives.
“I’m not someone that’s going to come in and make any promises and say ‘We’re going to fix this, this this and this,’ but recognizing I live here and have three kids in this community - I want to do what’s best for them and best for the community,” he said.
While living in Lima, Petraitis said he’s come to understand that some people look down on the village and often compare it unfavorably to Honeoye Falls.
“I want to turn that around, make it a spot where people are happy to be and happy to live,” he said. “My wife and I chose to move here eight years ago and we’re certainly happy with it.”
If elected, Petraitis said he’d focus his efforts on improving the village’s chances of securing grand funding.
“I want to make sure that before the grants come up – sometimes it’ll be ‘You have 30 days to submit this grant’ so we need to rush, rush, rush,” he said. “I have a lot of experience in the administration aspect of things. I want to make sure we have stuff in place well before then so it’s not just ‘30 days, quick, quick quick, throw it together.’”
There are two contested races in Nunda.
Alan Calhoun, a Democrat, and Emily Stoufer, a Republican, are seeking to fill an unexpired village trustee term left vacant after the resignation of former justice James R. Mann Jr. in December 2019 as part of an agreement with New York’s Commission on Judicial Conduct, which accused Mann of using his position to get his former brother-in-law out of a driving while intoxicated arrest in 2016.
Stoufer grew up in Nunda where she raised animals on her parents’ small farm.
“I remember fondly bottle feeding the ‘extra’ lambs each spring as a young child,” Stoufer said.
She graduated from Nazareth College in 2003 wit ha degree in music education and moved to Germany where she taught music at a Department of Defense Dependents School. While in Germany, Stoufer earned her master’s in European history from the American Military University.
Before moving back to Nunda in 2014, Stoufer spent time in Washington D.C. and Colorado Springs, Colo. In 2015, Stoufer decided to go to law school at the University of Buffalo where she graduated cum laude.
She was appointed Nunda town and village justice in January after Mann’s resignation.
“I am seeking office as the village justice as I believe that it is a unique opportunity to serve the community which nurtured me as a child, and where I have chosen to raise my family,” she said. “There have been many procedural changes to the law which went into effect in January, and I believe that my legal education and experience is a great asset in navigating some of those changes.”
If elected, Stoufer said her top priority will be to continue to do justice for all parties who enter her courtroom.
“It is essential that the courts make decisions which maintain the safety of the community, while also protecting and safeguarding the rights of the accused,” she said.
Calhoun could not be reached for comment.
Three candidates are seeking two open seats on the village board.
Incumbents Melvin Allen and Donald Wilcox are running as Republicans while former mayor Bob Cox is running as Democrat.
Cox is a lifelong resident of the Nunda area. After graduating from Keshequa Central Schools, he went to work at Rochester Products, where he was soon accepted into a machine builder apprenticeship program. After a 30-year career, Cox retired.
For the past 14 years, he’s have been employed by Blue Heron Construction where he works installing municipal sewer and water lines.
“Public service is an important issue to me. I think everyone should get involved in their community in some capacity, time permitting,” Cox said. “I am a member of Nunda Kiwanis, Masons, a Shriner and Nunda Methodist Church. I had been urged to run by community members who think I have much experience in our village government.”
If elected, Cox said the village’s aging water and sewer infrastructure would be among his top priorities.
“As a former mayor, we had been successful in in getting grants. We had received a grant for $278,000 for sewer plant upgrades. We also received a grant that would help out our seniors by getting them help with home repairs windows, doors, furnace and other repairs if their income fit the requirements,” Cox said. “If elected, I would work with the town of Nunda and village to expand our water and sewer district to include the residents that have the need for this on the fringe of the village where needed for growth.”
Wilcox is a graduate of Dansville Central Schools, SUNY Geneseo, the New York Chiropractic College and National College of Chiropractic.
He opened a chiropractic practice in Nunda in 1982 and continues to operate at the same location. He also serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the biology department at Houghton College.
As a village trustee for the past 2-1/2 years, Wilcox said he’s been involved with a number of important issues that, if elected, he’d like to continue to address. Among those issues are revitalizing the uptown business district, providing funds to help residents keep up their houses, securing state and federal funds for improvements to the village’s wastewater treatment plant, and keeping the Nunda Police Department. “Given the uncertainty of these times created in part by the new state Bail Reform Act, this is not the time to consider closing it down,” he said. “And once done, it is not an easy thing to undo, given that the township is our partner and pays for half of the budget.”
Allen could not be reached for comment.