- UPDATE [Nov. 7, 2017] – Teresi Clarifies Involvement with Distributing Campaign Literature Aimed at Two GOP City Council Candidates
JAMESTOWN – The final weekend before the 2017 Local Election saw some increased excitement on social media as two Republican candidates for Jamestown City Council found themselves to be the target of a campaign flyer encouraging voters to not support them on Tuesday.
The flyer (posted below) was reportedly passed out Saturday door-to-door in various neighborhoods of the city and pointed out that Jamestown city council at large candidates Michael Laurin and Andrew Liuzzo have been critical of the city’s recent effort to Annex the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities’ multi-million dollar Dow St. substation property from the Village of Falconer and Town of Ellicott.
does not indicate what individual(s) or group was behind writing it was written by the Jamestown Democratic Committee and was intended to be distributed as a mailer, but some copies were also included with a newsletter that was being delivered by dozens of volunteers. Two of those volunteers were Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi (a Democrat who’s office is not up for election this year) and city development director and former Democratic councilman Vince DeJoy.
The annexation, which was approved unanimously by the city council in September, would reduce annual property tax payments the city makes to those two municipalities, along with the Falconer School District and Chautauqua County. Ellicott, Falconer, and Falconer School officials are all against it because of the loss of revenue, which totals nearly 360,000 annually. The matter will now be settle in state appellate court.
During their campaigns, both Laurin and Liuzzo have spoken out against the annexation, saying they disagreed with the way the process played out due to a lack of communication with the neighboring municipalities.
Based on their comments of being critical of the process, a flyer was purportedly distributed by area Democrats saying, “City council candidates Michael Laurin and Andrew Liuzzo think the city of Jamestown should continue needlessly paying hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to underwrite the operations of Ellicott, Falconer, and the falconer School District.”
The flyer also accused the two candidates of routinely attacking city officials over the annexation effort.
“Laurin and Liuzzo routinely attack the city Council…starting with their ‘fellow’ Republicans…for trying to lower the City’s suburban tax bill,” the flyer reads.
The flyer closed by asking, “Exactly who will Laurin and Liuzzo would represent…their out-of-town friends, relatives, and business partners…or you???”
It also details the amount of tax revenue currently paid by the city to its neighboring municipalities, showing that it is the largest tax payer for both Ellicott and Falconer.
Copies of the flyer were reportedly distributed on Saturday, with both Laurin and Liuzzo responding on Facebook through their own campaign pages and on the Jamestown, NY group page.
Liuzzo said that both Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi and city development director and former city councilman Vince DeJoy were reportedly going door-to-door talking with residents and handing out the flyers.
“When you have little accomplished and less to offer you stoop this low. It is always about being good neighbors. These two aren’t. I want to thank them both for showing the city how arrogant they are,” Liuzzo wrote.
He later clarified his views to WRFA.
“My position was always about the unneighborly way the city of Jamestown approached the annexation process,” Liuzzo explained in a message to WRFA. “Of course I do not support raising city taxes to supplement neighboring towns and villages. This should have been negotiated. The way the city conducted itself sets a bad precedent for neighboring areas where the BPU maintains a presence. Given the opportunity, I would recommend that we withdraw this frivolous lawsuit (which the current administration has a propensity to pursue) and return to the negotiating table with our village neighbors. Otherwise, the city’s tax dollars are contributing to court and legal fees for a case that might very well be ruled in Falconer and the town of Ellicott’s favor due to the hardship it would cause them. I’d like to see a city that promotes its residents’ interests without ostracizing its neighbors. If our objective is to pursue shared services, offending our neighbors with strong-armed tactics is not a step in the right direction.”
Laurin also responded to the flyers on Facebook, calling them political propaganda that inaccurately describes his thoughts regarding the annexation.
“Jamestown residents are paying court and lawyer costs associated with the annexation. If Jamestown does not win in court, valuable time and money would have been wasted; future cost saving collaborations with Ellicott may also be at risk,” Laurin wrote. “The challenges that Jamestown has are enormous. Through greater collaboration, perhaps there is a solution that could be mutually beneficial. Controversially taking legal action to take our neighbors’ property is not a path I agree with; especially when that property has been secured and well-maintained by the Town of Ellicott.”
ANNEXATION LEGAL FEES VS. PROJECTED SAVINGS
So far, the Jamestown BPU has earmarked $60,000 toward the legal battle involving the annexation. If the city were to win in court, the BPU would save nearly $160,000 annually in property tax payments. That’s after it makes a required annual tax equivalency payment of nearly $80,000 to both the city and the Jamestown Public School District.
Meanwhile, there are six candidates running for the three Jamestown City Council at Large seats. Those candidates are: Incumbent Republican Kimberly Ecklund, Laurin and Liuzzo – both running under the Republican ballot, Incumbent Democrat and current Council President Gregory Rabb, and Democrats Vanessa Weinert and Robert Whitney.
Interviews with all those candidates are available at WRFA’s Election 2017 web page. Election Day is Tuesday Nov. 7.
COPY OF THE FLYER THAT WAS DISTRIBUTED ON SATURDAY, NOV. 4