Ham­burg su­per­vi­sor can­di­dates face off at Wood­lawn Beach

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Bar­bara O’Brien NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

Can­di­dates for Ham­burg town su­per­vi­sor faced each other at a Ham­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce fo­rum Thurs­day at Wood­lawn Beach State Park.

Both James Shaw, the en­dorsed Demo­crat, and Den­nis Gaughan, a Demo­crat en­dorsed by the GOP, said taxes have gone up in re­cent years.

Shaw, 70, said he wants to save money and in­crease rev­enues, of­fer retirement in­cen­tives to long­time em­ploy­ees, con­trol over­time, man­age the fleet of cars, fo­cus on re­de­vel­op­ment of va­cant struc­tures and con­vene joint meet­ings of the town and vil­lage boards.

“I’ll work like hell to do a good job,” he said.

Gaugh­an­list­ed14ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing low­er­ing taxes by 2 per­cent, chang­ing street­lights to LED lights to save money, cen­tral­iz­ing pur­chas­ing, in­creas­ing court rev­enue, re­duc­ing the su­per­vi­sor’s salary and hav­ing an open-door pol­icy. “If you didn’t like some­thing I did, I’d ex­pect you to come and tell me,” he said.

Here is what the two can­di­dates said about other is­sues.

•The fu­ture of Wood­lawn Beach State Park, which is owned by the state and run by the town:

He does not think New York State will of­fer much help to the town to run the beach, but he would fight to keep it open and run as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.

“You’re not go­ing to make money at Wood­lawn Beach, but if it’s a break-even, or close to break-even propo­si­tion like it is now, it does im­prove the qual­ity of our ser­vices,” Gaughan said.

“This beach has to be pre­served. It has to be more tightly con­trolled. “

Shaw: He said some losses at the beach are tough to trace and be­lieves the town should get help from the state and county in run­ning Wood­lawn Beach. Ne­go­ti­at­ing a new con­tract with the state would be a pri­or­ity for him.

“What we’re run­ning here is a re­gional as­set,” he said. “Ham­burg tax­pay­ers should not be re­quired to sub­si­dize a re­gional tourist des­ti­na­tion.”

•Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and the Ham­burg In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency:

Gaughan: He said the su­per­vi­sor was re­moved from the IDA board and some mem­bers are there for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

“Right now I don’t par­tic­u­larly agree with some of the ac­tions that the Ham­burg IDA takes. But, it is a very, very nec­es­sary thing to keep its own iden­tity,” Gaughan said.

Shaw: He said he is not in fa­vor of lo­cal IDAs bid­ding against each other for busi­nesses, but thinks Ham­burg is a busi­ness-friendly town.

“I’m not sure the Ham­burg IDA is all that nec­es­sary to our fu­ture, but I’m will­ing to lis­ten and learn,” he said. • The opi­ate cri­sis: Shaw: He would set up a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that the town, two vil­lages and two school dis­tricts would fund, along with pri­vate money.

Drug coun­selors, re­tired teach­ers and so­cial work­ers would be hired to work in the schools. If there is no in­ter­mu­nic­i­pal co­op­er­a­tion, Shaw would spend money to be­come more proac­tive.

“It’s no good to see th­ese kids in court,” he said. “Most of th­ese chil­dren are not crim­i­nals; they’re ad­dicts, they’re sick.”

Gaughan: He would con­vert the for­mer Im­mac­u­lata Academy into a treat­ment cen­ter for teenagers, run by area med­i­cal per­son­nel. Shaw’s sug­ges­tion of go­ing into the schools would not work, he said.

“We do that now. It doesn’t work,” Gaughan said. “There’s prac­ti­cally noth­ing you can do in the Town of Ham­burg if your son or daugh­ter is on opi­ates.”

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