By Nadine Cafaro
The Walden Community Council sponsored this year’s “Candidates’ Night” in Walden, where six candidates got to share their goals and beliefs with residents.
The trustee candidates this year are Brian Sebring, Lynn Thompson, Ralph Garrison, Kristy Hall and Chris Batson. Additionally, Mayor John Ramos is running against Gerald Mishk Jr. for the position of mayor. Mayor Ramos is running alongside Garrison, Hall and Batson as “Walden United.” All terms are for two years.
One important question asked was, “What do you see as the top two issues that must be addressed in the next year?” Every candidate could agree on at least one thing: the need for infrastructure issues to be addressed. Thompson stated, “The other thing that is another constant topic of discussion is our aging infrastructure. That is difficult because it’s not something people can see. When you spend a lot of money fixing your infrastructure, people often think you’re not doing anything with their tax dollars.”
Mayor Ramos agreed that infrastructure was a problem, mentioning that funding is important to do so. “I mean obviously we need grant funding. The State of New York has crippled us with the amount of money that we can possibly obtain,” said Ramos.
Infrastructure was mentioned in almost everyone’s answers, and while Garrison, Hall and Batson also diverted attention to the budget, other candidates had concerns about taxes. Specifically Thomspon and Mishk brought up their other top issue being taxes.
“Yes, we can reduce taxes. We don’t have to worry about what has to be done, but we have to remember to budget wisely. And then we reduce taxes,” Mishk mentioned.
Garrison remarked about taxes when talking about issues as well, but focused more on keeping a consistent budget. “The reduction in taxes, I mean it’s possible, but your taxes are going to be your taxes. The village does everything it can to make sure that [we have] everything that we need; police water and sewer, and that everything is taken care of,” said Garrison.
A question that was submitted by an audience member was, “What is one thing preventing small businesses from revitalizing Main Street?”
Multiple answers came up, like parking, lack of patronage and raising rent prices. Batson mentioned new business models. “COVID changed the entire landscape of how businesses make money. The majority of your income and your product is most likely not going to come through your front door, but it’s going to come through your back. The only way that businesses survive right now is to take advantage of an Omni-channel model, which means you sell aggressively on the internet,” Batson said.
Hall brought up the increase in prices versus decline in revenue.
“Some of the businesses have been down, some of the revenue has been down, and prices are going up on everything. I know that product prices and everything’s going up so I think maybe money is holding people back a little bit,” Hall mentioned.
A more fun topic included the candidates’ favorite local site that they’d remember fondly. Answers differed across the board and included the Walden Savings Bank Clock, Wooster Grove Park, Main Street and more. Sebring took a different route, mentioning the villages’ history. “Walden has had an enormous amount of factories that have produced products that went around the world,” said Sebring.
To hear full answers and the candidates’ remarks, make sure to head to the Walden Community Council Facebook page. The event, which was live streamed by Acquisition Marketing, can be watched in its entirety there.
The village election will take place on Tuesday, March 21 on the third floor of the Walden Municipal Building in the Bradley Assembly Room. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.