OLEAN, NY – Incumbent Kevin Dougherty has three challengers in this year’s Ward 4 alderman race: Paul “Pab” Sungenis, James Q. Gulnac and Evelyn Cruz.
Dougherty is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. Sungenis is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Libertarian party lines. Gulnac is on the Common Sense 4 Change party line, and Cruz is on the Alternate party line.
Both Dougherty and Sungenis agree that updating plumbing in Olean is a priority, while Dougherty and Gulnac agree that blight conditions need to be improved throughout the city.
Dougherty, who works in construction, has held the alderman position for the last two terms.
“I’m raising my kids in this city, and we need more level-headed people sitting at the top to make sure that this city runs efficiently and effectively and is a great place to raise kids,” Dougherty said. “My goals are what they’ve always been: to serve the city and keep the ship on the straight and narrow and try to keep things running smoothly.”
Sungenis, a broadcaster in Bradford, Pennsylvania, worked as a Democratic committeeman in New Jersey and has worked on a number of campaigns. He said improvements to roads, parks, data infrastructure, cybersecurity and downtown redevelopment need to be addressed.
“I love this area so much,” Sungenis said. “I want to try to give something back to the city that opened its arms to me and try to add a new perspective because there’s a lot that the city needs to have done. The average person needs someone who is going to stand up for them and speak out in their interest.”
Gulnac, who is retired, had worked as a director of youth employment, commissioner of recreation, professional planner and a director of planning and community development. He would like to see a reduction in the amount of unpaid taxes and water bills in the city.
“A few weeks back I was approached by a number of people," Gulnac said. "We weren’t very happy with what was going on and decided that we needed to get somebody who provided a little bit more experience and a lot more integrity. I’ve been involved in some form of government – local, regional and state – all my life.”
Cruz, who has worked as a teacher at New Life Christian School in Olean, said that her goals are to create more jobs and improve the quality of life in the city.
“I want to represent Ward 4 with integrity and decorum,” Cruz said. “People don’t think politicians have any kind of integrity or decorum, to say the least. I want them to see that not everybody is the same; it’s just the way you approach life you approach politics.”
Aldermen are the legislative body that write and enact laws. The winner of the election on Tuesday will serve a two-year term.
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