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March 13, 2014

Mayor, trustees address small forum crowd

By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Candidates Night at the Cooperstown Village Library presented an image of a functional and responsive Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees that gets along very well with one another. It also saw a challenge to the established order.

Sponsored by the League of Women’s Voters the event, held on March 10,  gave the over a dozen voters who showed up the chance to talk village mayor Jeff Katz, and the six members of the board of trustees. Both Katz, trustee and deputy mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and trustee Lou Allstadt are running for re-election this year against no on-the-ballot opposition.

The event began with the candidates and the other members of the board explaining their views and detailing their thoughts on working together with one another.

“It’s a really pleasant experience being on this board,” said trustee James R. Dean, in a sentiment that was echoed by the other board members.

“This board has been very proactive,” said trustee Cynthia Falk, referring to its approach to issues facing the village.

Still, trustee Bruce Maxson said that, while the trustees get along, that didn’t mean there were no disagreements.

“That doesn’t mean we all lockstep agree with one another,” said Maxson.

The floor was then opened up for questions and comments from the public, which lasted for about an hour. Some of the questions asked included whether the town could fine people for not shoveling their walkways before the town clears them, the status of the upcoming tree replacements, and how the board manages to maintain an adversarial system of government when they agree on so many issues.

The meeting also featured a statement by Barry Weinberger, who is running a self-described protest campaign as a write in candidate for mayor of Cooperstown.

“You’re going to hear more opposition to government than you ever had before,” said Weinberger, who said that his campaign was inspired by the Barry Renert case.

Renert has been charged with attempted murder, burglary and assault in connection with a shooting incident at the Seventh Inning Stretch store in Cooperstown last December.

Weinberger’s campaign also involves advocating for the reorganization of the economy along the lines of a system of his own devising, as detailed in documents he has provided the Cooperstown Crier. He is a Republican.

Weinberger did not mention his campaign for mayor or the details of economic reform plan in his statement at Candidates Night.

After questions from the public, mayor Katz and the trustees were asked what committees they served on, as well as what were the most common issues that constituents brought to their attention. Roads were the number one concern that most of the trustees mentioned.

“We certainly learned something about the board,” said Maureen Murray, the events moderator, citing how the board talked about agreeing to disagree while still managing to accomplish a great deal.

“I’m always happy to tell anyone what we’re up to,” said Katz, when asked about the event. 

Noting that something has been made about the trustees all getting along, Katz credited their cooperation to having a civil process, saying that they still vehemently disagreed on some issues.

“It all works cause our general outlook is the same,” said Katz.