OLEAN, NY — Incumbent Nate Smith is being challenged by Peyton Kunselman in this year’s election for Ward 6 alderman.
Smith is seeking his fifth term in office, having served in this position since January 2012.
Smith is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines, while Kunselman is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines.
Smith said that since he has been in office, he has worked on numerous projects to help improve the city. These include the re-construction of North Union Street and East State Street, the rebuilding of the historical district on North Third Street, the re-bricking of South 18th Street and more.
“Since I started this journey, my goal has always been to make Olean a place where people want to work and raise a family,” Smith said. “We need more young people to choose Olean, people who want to live here and grow the city.”
Kunselman, who is the secretary for the Cattaraugus County Libertarian party and in his last year of studying chemistry at Rochester Institute of Technology, said he has two key changes he would make if elected.
One of Kunselman's key changes would involve how the mayor and city aldermen receive raises; he would like to sponsor a referendum that would allow Olean residents to vote on the matter.
And he said he would take a “firm stance” on fixing city infrastructure by allocating money properly and cutting unnecessary spending.
“Our roads are absolutely horrible in Olean,” Kunselman said. “Although they are improving, a long-term investment needs to be made if we are to experience any growth. Who will want to invest back into Olean if our roads resemble Syria, or if our water pipes function worse than the federal government?”
Kunselman said he wants to make it easier for people to address issues at the local level. If elected, he promises to donate “most of (his) check” to local non-profit organizations that support art, music and theater.
“I have heard countless stories of people having to deal with so many bureaucrats and government departments just to fix small little issues in their lives,” he said.
Smith, on the other hand, said that he has always made an effort to make it easy for his constituents to contact him.
“On top of the projects I work on, I take calls day and night from constituents about water issues, sewage issues, billings and more,” Smith said. “I’ve had my personal cell phone number posted online since I was originally elected.”
Smith said he has always looked at the job as having two facets.
“There’s a strategic view, where you work on big issues like policies,” he said. “Then, there’s a technical side where you work with a specific entity on one issue. It can be tough to balance because they both take a lot of time if you do it right.”
The winner of the election will serve a two-year term.
City aldermen set policy for issues such as zoning and budgets, as well as listen to and fight for the needs of their constituents. Olean’s Ward 6 encompasses the west end of the city, starting roughly at 12th Street.
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