By ADAM ATKINSON
CANTON – Former village mayor Mary Ann Ashley is gathering signatures for a petition to run as an Independent for town supervisor here.
Ashley has formerly announced her intentions to run for the position and points to her past performance as village trustee and then mayor as qualifications for the position.
“Having taken a two-year break from elected service, and retiring a year ago, my passion to serve continues. Since the beginning of this year, I have been thinking how to get back to serving in local government because I miss it,” she writes in her formal announcement.
She will run against incumbent David Button on Nov. 7, Election Day. Button is running on the Republican and Conservative lines. The incumbent said he intends to formerly announce his intention to run at a Canton Rotary Club meeting next week, but has already filed his petition with the county Board of Elections.
Ashley served two terms as an elected school board member, part of that tenure as board vice president; and two terms as an elected Canton village trustee and a one term as Canton village mayor.
Ashley is now retired, but had a 35-year career in human services, working as a NYSARC case manager, Canton youth center director, county youth bureau director and a school counselor.
Ashley was confident that she would be able to obtain the needed 114 signatures for the petition by the Aug. 22 deadline and said she was hearing positive things from the electorate about her move to run. “I suspect I will meet the 114 and more,” she said.
Ashley, a Republican, ran for mayor of the village with the Democratic party endorsement, but this time will be running as an Independent. She recently changed her personal formal party affiliation from Republican to “blank,” however that change won’t be official until after election day on Nov. 8. On the ballot however, her name will be on line “I.”
“We (the village board) developed so many positive relationships,” Ashley said in an interview Wednesday. “That just makes things happen.”
“My goal is to run a positive campaign on my record (with the village board),” she said.
The former mayor said when she served with the village board they focused on the municipality’s financial health, the infrastructure of the departments and the human capital of the village government, and finally the services the village could offer to the citizens.
“We probably accomplished 90 percent of our goals,” Ashley said.
Ashley said the village board kept taxes below the 2 percent tax cap, decreased village debt load and paid off the fire station project bond. “I’m proud of how we worked towards going debt free.”
She said the board also upgraded the golf course facility and the DPW building, negotiated the police department labor contract, installed new IT hardware for the village clerk’s office, and established a working relationship with town towards economic development.
“I’m a results based person. You set a goal and get results,” Ashley said.
“We got so much done in the two years as a cohesive unit . . . It was slow, but when you take your time, good things come out of it.”
Ashley said one of the changes she would like to see implemented at the town level is a better structure for the budget that more clearly defines line item expenses and a more transparent process on budget negotiations.
She said she also feels that the highway department needs additional funding to match the state CHIPs funding to help pay for road paving.
Ashley said another goal is to decrease the debt of the town.
“As Mayor, we governed by listening, inviting public engagement at all levels, striving for creation of positive relationships to develop public trust, working hard, serving with integrity, treating everyone with dignity and respect, assuring transparency, and being fiscally responsible in providing excellent municipal services. We used the framework of a progressive pathway through a team-based, shared decision-making, comprehensive planning model of benchmarking needs and setting goals,” she writes in her formal announcement.
“My vision is to engage the same strategies as town supervisor, run a positive campaign, give the voters a choice and always be focused on the people,” writes Ashley.