During the summer, the Fingler Lakes Community Newspapers profiled Dryden’s Independence Party candidates Craig Schutt, Craig Anderson, and Thomas Hatfield. This week, we do the same for the Dryden Democrat candidates:
Jason Leifer, Town Supervisor candidate
How long have you lived in Dryden?
My family and I have lived in Dryden for ten years.
Why are you running for Town Supervisor?
Ever since I joined the Town Board, I have been working hard to improve the quality of life in Dryden in both small ways and big ways. For example, immediately after joining the Board, I helped write a grant that expanded broadband Internet access across the community. I also persuaded the Board to pass a home improvement property tax credit. Next, the board amended the zoning to permit more home-based businesses. It’s things like these that help people in their everyday lives. As Supervisor I want Dryden to be seen as the best place to live, work, and play in Tompkins County. To do this we must invest in Dryden. This means properly maintaining the large amount of infrastructure we have, which includes roads, bridges, and even a dam, so that we can attract investment to the town. The State Comptroller has already told the Town that we need to spend more on road maintenance. Because we are a growing community, it is important to maintain our own adult and youth recreation services. These services include youth sports, summer camps, community program grants, and community music events such as festivals and music, all of which make Dryden a community and not just a place to live or work. We also must maintain our public safety services such as Fire and Ambulance, code enforcement, the Court, and the town highway department. Lastly, having a professional planner on staff is a good idea because that person will be able to work with new businesses looking to locate in Dryden as well as assisting us in attracting new economic development that fits the character of Dryden. An anything-goes approach is one option for sure, but anything goes is not what is best for Dryden. These are important investments in the town that makes Dryden a better place to live.
What special skills or experience do you have that make you the best candidate for the job?
My experience on the Board, my experience in the community, and the skills I have learned as an attorney makes me the best candidate for Town Supervisor. I have served on the Town Board for almost eight years, and I have been Deputy Supervisor since 2012. Over the years I have built relationships with the leaders in the surrounding communities and in the County Government. I also have been able to cultivate relationships with our State and Federal representatives. I am also am active in the community, having coached Kiwanis Baseball, regularly volunteered at the Varna Community Center, the Ellis Hollow Fair, and as time allows participating in Kiwanis Club. Of the skills that I have learned as an attorney, the ability to listen, gather information, and explains complex ideas to others have proven invaluable during my time on the Board.
Is there any particular issue you are focused on right now?
At this time of the year, we are focused primarily on the budget. The budget drives the policies that the board wants to pursue in the next year. What we have done with this year’s budget is attempt to maintain the level of services that the people of Dryden have come to expect, especially with highway maintenance and snow removal. The other big thing that we are focused upon is a proposed new housing development in Varna.
What challenges are coming up in this term for the town and how do you plan to meet them?
The challenge is to provide Dryden with the services it wants but at a reasonable cost and educating the public about that cost. One way for the board to spread the cost around is to encourage new development. Dryden has seen steady growth over the years, but we could use more. To help stimulate growth, I would like the Board to work on seeking out new economic development opportunities and ways to share services with our neighbors. This could include state and federal grants for new and existing businesses as well as reaching outside of the community to educate commercial developers on the advantages of locating their business in Dryden.