January 20, 2022
Arkport Republican Party Nominates Matthews
By Jasmine Willis
Arkport, NY — The Republican Caucus was held on Jan. 20 at 7p.m. to nominate Alan Matthews as trustee in the upcoming March 15 Village Election.
There was a unanimous vote to nominate Matthews as candidate for one of the two trustee seats available.
Republican Mayor Thomas Dugo served his two-year term. Dugo will not be running again in the upcoming election. There was no one nominated in the Republican Party to replace him.
Matthews said he had prior experience serving on the Arkport Central Board of Education. He wants to invest into his community if given a chance in the trustee position.
Trustee Ryan Beers and Trustee John Hedges are stepping down leaving two seats open on the village board. Beers has chosen to step down for family reasons. Hedges has the longest run on the village board with over 20 years of experience. He has chosen to step away for his other work obligations.
Republican Trustee Mike Brewer and Republican Trustee Ezra Geist each have served multiple terms on the village board. They agree that the local politics have never been a problem in this community. Everyone works well together and wants the best for the village.
Dugo said his term was short due to Covid-19 Pandemic. He was elected for the position in October 2020. Dugo said it was a challenging time, but he rose to the opportunity to help his community.
“Elections are always in March and last for two years, but due to the Covid-19 Pandemic they put it off. They put off all the village elections until September 2020,” he said. “It was like with everything else. We had the mask mandates and had to wear them at all the meetings. We had to deal with all the regulations from the state at the time.”
Geist said the village board mentioned the idea of holding zoom meetings but chose to meet in person instead. They all practiced social distancing and wore masks.
The USDA Rural Development Grant came from the Covid-19 Pandemic term, and that was a proud investment into the village. Dugo said it was a lot of paperwork, and working with the government to get grants. It proved to be a huge task even in these hard times.
Brewer said the village board had to jump through many hoops to get even a dollar from the state, and it was hard when there was an obvious need in the community.
Dugo said he learned a lot working with his trustees who had tons of experience on the village board. It proved to be very helpful in his challenging term during the pandemic.
Brewer said Beers and Hedges will both be missed on the village board. Geist said Hedges has a couple of businesses right now that he is stepping down to focus on at this time.
“You can’t beat the experience that John had on the board. We are going to miss working with him. Ryan’s wife is having her second baby, so he is stepping down to be with his family. We wish him all of the best with them,” he said.
Matthews said this is the second time his family has returned to this community. He lived in Arkport in the early 2000s before getting a transfer to Rochester.
“I was on the school board when I lived here the last time. We have chosen to come back and make Arkport our home again,” he said. “This is just a little way of giving something back.”
Brewer said he believes all the candidates will be running unopposed due to the fact there are only two trustee seats open and the mayor seat. He said there could be a write-in that no one is aware of. There was a case of a write-in vote winning in Alfred State a few years back due to students making that choice without telling anyone. Brewer said it was an interesting story and a case where the students won due to a write-in vote.
“You just need to get out there and talk to all of your friends and neighbors to ask them to vote that night. That is what I have always done. Just let them know you would appreciate their vote about a week before the election. Knock on wood I haven’t had to run against anyone. That is the sad part in a way, because you wish there would be more people getting involved. On one hand it is nice that you know you are going to win, and on the other hand you wish more people would get involved. The problem is when something big happens they will have the questions, but they don’t show up for the meetings. I wish there was more participation like that in the meetings,” he said.
The village board reminisced about the case involving Dollar General. Geist said it was impressive to see big city powerful lawyers be cornered with questions by the community. According to Geist, there was a 98 percent disapproval rate to have a Dollar General in the village, and the entire village board was against it as well. The deal fell through, and no move was made to bring the popular franchise to the village. That goes down in history as one of the most well-attended meetings the village ever had with standing room only.
Matthews said if he is elected on the village board, he plans to represent the community the best way he can. He wants to listen to the voice of the village when things like the Dollar General come along. He wants everyone to feel heard, and talk to people about what they want to see happen in the community.
Dugo said he served as mayor in his village to help people in a small town. He wanted to give back to his community. Dugo agrees with Brewer in the wish for more people to get involved in the future.
The Arkport Village Election is March 15 at the Village Community Room.