By Ryan Zunner
On Tuesday, November 7, many Western New Yorkers will head to the polls to cast their ballots for local and county-wide elections. Two local lawyers are vying for the Town Supervisor position in Hamburg, Jim Shaw and Dennis Gaughn. While many things may seem uncertain heading into election day, one thing is certain, Hamburg will have a new supervisor. The three term-incumbent, Steven Walters, has decided not to seek a fourth term for the office.
Both Shaw and Gaughn are registered Democrats, however, the latter is running with GOP support after he was defeated by Shaw in the primary race. Both candidates are going all out in their campaign efforts, with a recent financial disclosure document citing over $150,000 in total funds having been spent on the race.
Tax reformation has been a hot-button issue on the federal level, and that is no different in Hamburg. In a recent candidates forum, Gaughn told the Buffalo News that among his chief concerns on his 12-point plan is to lower Town taxes by two percent.
Shaw, on the other hand, hasn’t expressly stated on his campaign website his stance on Hamburg’s tax situation:
“Revenue for the Town of Hamburg is primarily raised through taxes and fees that come directly out of your pocket. That’s why, as your supervisor, Jim Shaw will closely monitor the expenditure of such monies with a strict oversight of yearly-approved town budgets and the resultant funding and services that are provided.”
Both men have found common ground on the future of Woodlawn Beach State Park, which despite it being a state-owned park, is managed by Hamburg.
“You’re not going to make money at Woodlawn Beach, but if it’s a break-even, or close to break-even proposition like it is now, it does improve the quality of our services,” Gaughan said in the Buffalo News. “This beach has to be preserved. It has to be more tightly controlled.”
Shaw also wants to see the beach preserved, but not under its current conditions. He would like to see a new contract negotiated with the state to better the management of the park, and take the burden off Hamburg taxpayers in what he calls, “a regional tourist destination.”
Shaw and Gaughn both have touched on the opiate crisis that is facing municipalities across the country. Shaw suggests building a coalition with local school district and other nearby local governments to finance a program with drug counselors, social workers, and teachers to combat the crisis.
Gaughn told the Buffalo News that he would convert the former Immaculata Academy located next to Hilbert College into a drug treatment center specifically for teens. It is not clear how Gaughn plans to do this, as Immaculata is not owned by the town, but by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and is currently on the market for sale at a price tag of $1.9 million.
Polls open in Hamburg at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 9 p.m. Check back to the Hilbert Scribe for more local election coverage.
Photo: Jim Shaw, left and Dennis Gaughn are vying for Town of Hamburg Supervisor