Fire chief vows 'responsive government, open communication'
Lifelong Pendleton resident and current Wendelville Fire Chief Joel Maerten announced Tuesday he is running for town supervisor.
Stating local government should be more responsive to residents' concerns, Maerten vowed that, as supervisor, he would ensure Town Hall was committed to open communication and collaboration with town residents. "This is key to effective leadership," he said.
An Emphasis on Competent Management. Announcing his candidacy, Maerten, whose family also has an extensive background in agriculture, outlined his near- and long-term vision for the Town of Pendleton, saying as supervisor he would focus on business development, prudent short and long-term financial planning, and protection of property owners' rights.
"Town government is responsible for many tasks, including maintaining infrastructure and promoting quality-of-life issues. These two areas are critically important to my family and my neighbors, and they will be at the core of my program as town supervisor," he stated as part of his message to voters. "As town residents voice concerns for quality of life and safety issues like speed limits, road repairs, and National Fuel's ambitious plans to build a compressor station in town, our current town government makes promises while doing little to actually address the issues."
A History of Personal Commitment to Pendleton. A member and current chief of the Wendelville Fire Co., Maerten has volunteered there for nearly 20 years. He pointed with pride to the leadership and vision he has brought to the town's emergency services with the collaboration of his team of officers.
"The fire company is a great organization - I have learned a lot and constantly have great experiences working with so many great men and women," Maerten said, before adding the message he often shares when asked about the fire service: "I encourage anyone looking for an opportunity to give back to the community to explore joining their local volunteer fire company."
In addition to being involved in fighting fires and leading the fire company, Maerten served in the past as an emergency medical technician.
Building Cost-Saving Partnerships. Maerten said he would begin his time as supervisor with a top-to-bottom review of the town's finances, working closely with other elected leaders, including the town highway superintendent and the town clerk, as well as his counterparts in other communities and other levels of government, to ensure the town's budget is achieving maximum efficiencies.
"I am committed to a lean government that makes the best use of the taxpayers' dollars, that works closely with neighboring communities to find savings," Maerten said. "I will work to contain costs wherever that is practical, by working with partners facing similar challenges."
Maerten also vowed to build stronger relationships for the town with state and county leaders to ensure the town has a viable economic development model.
"We need to strike a careful balance between the historic rural, farming community that has always been the heart of Pendleton and the kind of economic development that broadens the tax base and brings in services that residents want," Maerten said, noting that, despite new subdivisions being built, the town's commercial base had remained largely stagnant over the past decade. "People need places to shop, and their kids need opportunities to work."
Listening to Pendleton. Maerten said he looks forward to going door-to-door to meet as many residents as possible in the coming months, learning more about the concerns and feedback each has to share.
"I want to give my neighbors a voice in town government, but first I need to listen to what they're saying," Maerten said. "They deserve leaders that make decisions that are best for the town and its residents, and that are willing to take a stand on issues that impact their lives, their homes, and their families' health."
Maerten, 42, lives on Bear Ridge Road with his wife, Kate, and three children. Both he and his wife are Starpoint graduates and his two oldest children currently attend school there.
"My extended family has roots in Pendleton that go back decades and multiple generations," Maerten noted, saying he and his family are fully invested in the town's future. "We are a growing town, and people who move here are choosing to live in a special kind of place. As supervisor, as a lifelong resident whose family hails from here, I am committed to keeping Pendleton a great place to raise a family."
In his free time, he helps his son and father-in-law operate the oldest family-run farm in the Town of Pendleton. He can also often be found with his children on local playgrounds or at sporting events at Starpoint High School.
Maerten is a graduate of Clarkson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Additionally, he earned a Master of Science degree in secondary education from D'Youville College. Maerten holds a state teaching certification in mathematics, physics and technology education. He is employed by one of Erie County's largest school districts as an educator, curriculum specialist and grant coordinator.
Locally, Maerten has been actively involved in Career and Technical Education (CTE), working to make connections between education and business for the benefit of both students and local industry alike.
He is seeking the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.