OLEAN, NY — Tracylynn Huselstein, Jason Panus and Kevin Bartholomew are seeking the Ward 2 Alderman seat held by Kelly Andreano, who is running for the Cattaraugus Couty Legislature.
Huselstein is running on the Democratic and Working Family party lines. Panus has the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, while Bartholomew has the backing of the Libertarian Party.
While the three candidates have different political beliefs, making a positive impact on the Olean community and its people is a common goal for the trio, none of whom hold elected office.
Huselstein, who works as a cosmetologist in Ellicottville and Olean, said her biggest aspiration is to connect with people and make positive impacts on their lives. Despite having no previous political experience, Huselstein said she can see herself as a difference maker.
“When I moved down here from Buffalo, I got involved with the Cattaraugus County Pride Coalition,” Huselstien said. “I jumped in with both feet and helped take that over. I organized the pride event in Allegany this year. Once I got my feet wet, I really enjoyed being a part of the community and making a difference for people.”
One of the changes that could impact Ward 2 and Olean as a whole, according to Huselstein, is repairing unwalkable sidewalks and fixing the sewer system.
“I am very open-minded,” she said. “It’s about listening to people. There’s always been a sidewalk issue in Olean. The community pushes to be a walkable community, but there are certain places where my son can’t ride his bike because the sidewalks aren’t up to shape.”
She continued, “Another thing I noticed is, when it rains, it floods. Updating the sewer systems would be a long-term goal, but it would be possible.”
Panus, a resident and owner of JP Industrial Services in Ward 2, wants to give back to his neighborhood.
“I have a business in the neighborhood. I’ve lived there for a long time,” he said. “I figured it was time in my life in my life to do something like this. It’s a way to give back. The community has supported me with my business.”
In terms of his greatest goals as a candidate, Panus said he wants to be able to make unbiased decisions for the community.
“I am not looking to make a career out of this or politics, but I want to perform it as a duty and do a good job rather than have an agenda or make my name known," he said. "A lot of politicians want to make some big changes so they can have their name on them. I am not interested in that. I want to make sure good things happen, and good decisions are made.”
Bartholomew, who is retired, had numerous jobs during his working life, including positions in the purchasing field and a as a manager at a Popeyes restaurant in Virginia. Bartholomew considers himself to be someone who can make a positive impact on Ward 2 and the city.
Having run for office several times since his first attempt 10 years ago, Bartholomew said it is the opportunity to help people that keeps him coming back. Although he has never won an election, Bartholomew has been involved in Olean Common Council meetings.
“I’ve been going to council meetings since before I even ran,” he said. “I think I’ve been to more council meetings as a private citizen than all the current members of the council have combined.”
As a candidate, Bartholomew’s goals are to help bring more manufacturing jobs to the city and to "get things done."
He said, “I am all about getting manufacturing jobs back into the city. A service industry can only feed off itself for so long. When I was in Virginia, most of that was government, so the service industry could survive. We need to get some manufacturing or technology jobs in this area. A company that makes something. I know a lot of people that want to move back here, but there are no decent jobs for them.”
The winner of the Nov. 5 election will serve a two-year term. City aldermen are responsible for representing the needs of their wards and setting policy for citywide issues such as zoning and budget.
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