by Larry Austin
Tuesday's general election features a rematch of the 2007 race for town supervisor between Peter McMahon and Mary Cooke.
Cooke said four years ago after her defeat that some had urged her to run a negative campaign, which she declined to do. This year, she's pointed out what she considers McMahon's shortcomings and called a vote for the incumbent a vote for the status quo. McMahon's campaign has primarily focused on his tenure as supervisor, saying that with regard to his accomplishments in such areas as reducing debt and expanding green space, "leadership is the key."
"A lot of it means being there," Cooke said of her new energy theme. She said McMahon was out of the office 46 days in his last term, and out of town on non-town matters of personal interst.
"I firmly believe that in those 46 days in Town Hall something would have happened."
"I just think priorities need to be established, and that's what I mean about energy, being there. I've had several people come to me and say, 'I can't find the supervisor,' or, 'I don't know where the supervisor is. Can you help me with this, can you help me with that?' Of course we do, but I don't know why that's going on, and it shouldn't be."
Cooke claimed that recently someone came to the town wanting to relocate a business, left a card and never got a call back.
"I think that's something that can't happen."
McMahon said he's heard this criticism, and it doesn't wash.
"Mary's made that comment before about me being out of town," McMahon responded. "She said 46 days in my last term. That's four years. That's 10-and-a-half days a year. If that's right, that's not even the amount of vacation I'm entitled to."
McMahon said that in 2010 he was out of the office on 19 days that were not related to town business, and of those days more than half were fire company-related.
"I had exactly four days that were pure and simple vacation," McMahon said. "This term, I had a bypass, and I was off for a whole month. Now, I sneaked in the office and spent a couple hours every day, but technically speaking I was off."
McMahon said every time he leaves town he leaves board members an itinerary, with departure times, flight numbers, and the hotel at which he'll stay.
"And every department and every member of the Town Board gets that. So I'm not ashamed of it at all."
Jim Sharpe, a candidate for Town Council, raised a complaint during the Oct. 20 "Meet the Candidates Night," pointing out that the council votes in lockstep every month, with constant 5-0 votes. The conflicting votes between McMahon and Cooke have been few.
"We certainly have worked together in a lot of the accomplishments that we've had," Cooke said, "but where my focus will be is in the energy and the priorities, making economic development a priority. I think a full-time supervisor with a full-time secretary has a lot of opportunities to research, to make contacts with businesses. It would be like an extension of Economic Development (Advisory Board)."
McMahon said: "Here's the facts. Mary Cooke is an equal member of the Town Board with Pete McMahon. She has the right to introduce stuff any time she wants to. She can vote against anything she doesn't like. I don't know what her 'new energy' is going to be. I'm certainly there more hours than she is. Up until last year she had a part-time teaching job."
"I think she's just trying to get a buzzword that she thinks will resonate," McMahon said.