To the Editor:
This year’s elections are pivotal at the local, state and national levels. The course of our future may well be determined by the election results Nov. 2 this year. But possibly even more important than Election Day will be the primaries, where we choose who will run within our respective parties. This year, the primaries will see many newcomers and it is important for us to learn what we can about all the candidates in order to make informed decisions.
I would like to address the Republicans in St. Lawrence County regarding one of the county primaries. Two Republicans are competing for the county treasurer’s position. Only one may have his name on the ballot in November.
The first is current Deputy County Treasurer Kevin Felt. He has served in that capacity for two years. He is locally educated, with a bachelor’s degree in business management from SUNY Plattsburgh and a master’s degree in business administration from Clarkson University. He also has 11 years’ accounting experience in Ogdensburg, Manhattan, and Rochester.
Opposing Kevin Felt is Canton Supervisor David Button. He has been at that post for nine years during which time he has secured eight grants totaling approximately $2 million. He has cut the tax rate in Canton for three years running. He holds a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor’s from Southern Methodist University. Both degrees are in broadcast management, and he has taken postgraduate courses in radio station and media outlets. He has 32 years’ experience running his own business. His goal is to turn around the economic development trend in St. Lawrence County through innovative bond initiatives so his grandchildren can have a viable future locally.
Both men are well educated and experienced in their own fields So how does one decide? For this particular primary, I look at the County Treasurer’s office, its purpose and function. It is the main fiscal office for the county. Taxes, dog license fees, bail money, etc., are funneled through this office. They work with the towns regarding their budgets to make sure the monies are distributed appropriately. They work with the Real Property Office to keep track of taxes paid or unpaid, and they work with the tax collectors of each town to make sure they are properly equipped for the task.
But perhaps equally important is what the County Treasurer’s Office is not. It does not determine tax rates. It has no administrative power, decision making authority, or ability to enact legislation. Only through its efficiency as a fiscal tool is the funding for political programs made available.
With this in mid I would have to endorse Kevin Felt as the best candidate for the position of St. Lawrence County Treasurer. He has the background and accounting experience necessary, and has worked in that office as deputy long enough to be able to keep it functioning as one of the most efficient in New York State. As tax collector for the Town of Piercefield, I can attest to the superior quality of the current operation of the County Treasurer’s Office. There are myriad legal details and deadlines that must be met during the course of the year, and Kevin Felt is well aware of what must be done, and when it must be done. I should add that Kevin Felt also has the endorsement of outgoing County Treasurer Robert McNeil, who is retiring after 24 years’ service.
Although Mr. Button’s aspirations are laudable, I fail to see how the treasurer’s office would be the appropriate position from which to advance his agenda. It seems he would be more effective as a county legislator instead, working with a group that has the ability to make improvements in the economic development of St. Lawrence County. One should not put a “fox in charge of the henhouse”; nor should we put an ambitious politician in charge of the county treasury.
I encourage the voters in St. Lawrence County to come out on Primary Day, Tuesday, Sept. 14, to vote for the people in your party who will represent you on Election Day. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
Donald G. Mauer
Town Clerk and Tax Collector
Town of Piercefield