B y Krystle S. Morey
Granville deputy mayor Gordon Smith and trustee Frank Caruso have announced their intent to run for re-election – and, as they have in the last three elections, they’ll do so on the same ticket.
The pair’s terms expire March 31, so their long-held trustee seats on the Granville Village Board are up for grabs.
“Out terms have always coincided,” Smith said as to why he and Caruso are running on the same ticket.
“Frank and I work well together,” Smith said, noting that his running mate offers a different opinion in board decisions.
“We have always thought pretty much along the same lines as to what we want to do for the village,” Caruso said of Smith.
Together, Smith and Caruso have nearly 40 years of experience on the board.
“They are both long-serving,” said Rick Roberts, village clerk.
Smith has been a village trustee since he was appointed by the board to fill the seat left vacant by Tom Scott who was elected mayor in April 1999. He’s served as deputy mayor since April 2000.
Since Smith’s term is up, Mayor Brian LaRose will be tasked with appointing a new deputy mayor or re-appointing Smith following the March election.
Caruso served as a trustee from April 1999 to March 2005. He was not re-elected in 2005, but ran again, and won, in 2006. He’s served in that position since then.
Smith touted several accomplishments during his and Caruso’s time on the board, including a solid police department, reliable infrastructure, great schools and the hiring of a school resource officer.
Smith said having an officer embedded in local schools is “an absolute plus for us…to make police not be a negative.”
“In general, the board has been pretty progressive in making Granville a great place to raise children and work,” Smith said. “Granville is going through an economic renaissance — businesses are coming back to town … they surely wouldn’t have come here if they didn’t think that they could be successful.”
If re-elected, some projects Smith said he would like to focus on include continuing to rid the village of vacant properties and securing Granville’s infrastructure for the future.
Smith touted the efforts by code enforcer Fred Roberts, who helped eliminate more than half of the 30 zombie properties in the village last year. He said he would like to explore grant options that will help Granville continue to extricate these properties that do not generate tax income. Only communities with more than 100 vacant properties are eligible for zombie property grants offered by the state, Smith said. Most are owned by out-of-state banks, Smith said. “I don’t know why they hang on to them when they could sell them to someone who could renovate it or flip it,” he said.
As for infrastructure, Smith said he’s excited for the village to embark on the renovation of its wastewater treatment plant. The village last year received a $600,000 grant to upgrade the infrastructure at the Mettowee Street plant.
“I’ve enjoyed being on the board and serving the people of Granville,” Smith said. “I’ve had fun making it a great place to live and work.”
Caruso agreed, stating: “I think very highly of our village … and I want to protect it. The people have always been good to me and, 99 percent of the time, good to each other.”
He’d like to focus on budgetary problems if re-elected, he said, mentioning he’d like to do things like add more street lighting in the village, which has slowed down in recent years “because of budget reasons,” he said.
“Our main focus has to be to get the budget under control and save money in places so we can do these projects … without raising taxes,” Caruso said.
“The village is just like your average taxpayer: we are all pinching pennies to get by,” he said.
Caruso added: “No village is perfect, but we try to get it as close as we can to that without raising the taxes.”
“I have a voice on the village board. I add a little variety in the mix because I am no afraid to stick my neck out if it needs to be done,” said Caruso, who mentioned he is retired and can spend a lot of time on working for the village.
He joked: “I am well-known for my occasional ‘no’ votes.”
Smith said he and Caruso have picked up their petition, and that their quest for signatures is “well underway.”
Challenger Stephanie Munger, an assistant nurse manager at Glens Falls Hospital and a National Guard veteran, was the only Granville resident to throw her hat in the race against the incumbents as of Monday.
Munger picked up a petition at the village office last Friday and has already started collecting signatures.
“Village government interests me,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing to have people watching over the things that are done here.”
If elected, Munger said she would like to focus her efforts on bringing more businesses to Granville, and “help it grow in a positive manner.”
Munger has lived in the village for more than 20 years, having moved from a small town in Maine. She said Granville reminds her a lot of her hometown. Both of her children are graduates of Granville High School.
She said her background at the hospital and in the military will help her be a successful trustee. As a manager at Glens Falls Hospital, Munger said it is her job to oversee the cardiac floor there and assist with budget decisions. It’s at GFH where she worked her way up from unit secretary in 1991 to assistant nurse manager today.
Prior to that, Munger has about 10 years of military experience where she worked her way up to a sergeant in the New York National Guard. That’s where she gained he first understanding of budgeting and dealing with supply and demand.”
She’s also a member of American Legion Post #323 locally.
Village residents interested in running for trustee should obtain an independent nominating petition, and submit it to the village office, located at 51 Quaker St., by the Valentine’s Day deadline.
Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21.
The next village election will be in March 2019, when LaRose’s mayoral seat if up for grabs, a four-year term; the trustee seats of Dean Hyatt and Paul Labas, four-year terms; and a four-year term for village justice, a position held now by Roger Forando.