Ed Townsend and Jeanne Sager | Democrat
VILLAGE OF LIBERTY Republican candidate Richard Winters, left, will be running for mayor in the upcoming Village of Liberty elections, against Incumbent Mayor Rube Smith.
They face off for mayor of Village
Incumbent Rube Smith
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY He’s a farmer, a hard worker, a guy who prefers work boots and a John Deere sweatshirt to a suit.
William “Rube” Smith knows what it means to roll up his sleeves and get a job done.
It’s why he’s looking to taxpayers in the Village of Liberty to re-elect him as their mayor next week.
Smith, a native who graduated from Liberty High School in 1980 and has raised daughter Erin in the village with wife Dara, has been elected to three two-year terms.
A founding member of Liberty’s revitalization group, ALIVE, he ran in 2003 to bring change to village government.
“I thought there was a better way to make government more efficient, more open to the public,” he explained.
Two years in, he’d already tackled the village’s “dirty secret,” huge amounts of taxes gone unpaid for years that were weighing heavily on the shoulders of taxpayers who actually ponied up.
With more money coming in, he then turned to revamping programs throughout the village.
He began a garbage and recycling program with rates charged to village residents that are among the lowest in the county with the collection of recyclables actually turning a profit for the department of public works.
When the long-time public works department head retired, Smith stepped in to take his job at no additional cost saving taxpayers around $100,000 annually on salary and benefits.
“We’ve had minimal tax raises every year, we’ve worked very hard on reduced spending, work on using what we have to get the job done,” Smith said.
With the economy faltering, the village has struggled too.
People struggle to pay their taxes, equipment is outdated and expensive to replace, fuel prices have skyrocketed, making it difficult to stay more than a few steps ahead of the infrastructure issues in the village.
“This last quarter, we’ve had the largest amount of water shut-offs . . . ever,” he said.
Smith hopes people understand the economic issues that affect them affect the village as well.
He’s proud to say that village employees have risen to the challenge. Working with them is perhaps the most rewarding part of the job, he says, they work hard for the people of the village.
“We struggled through eight years of President Bush, but this Democratic administration here made it through,” he said. “And now, the future looks a lot brighter than it did.
“We’re working on infrastructure, we’re working on all the roads… ” he said.
But without voter support, Smith said he can’t finish what he started.
“I work hard for the people, and I don’t beat around the bush I tell it how it is,” he said.
Now he’s telling folks he’d like to spend two more years working hard.
Challenger Richard Winters
By Ed Townsend
LIBERTY Liberty Village Republican Mayor candidate Richard Winters wants to revise the local Chamber of Commerce and believes there should be inter-municipal written agreements between the Town and Village for the purpose of sharing services with mutual purchasing agreements.
Winters, 51, currently village trustee serving his first year of a two-year term, will challenge incumbent three-term Mayor Rube Smith.
Winters said in an interview this week that the Village of Liberty “needs an active Chamber of Commerce to promote activities that will help bring traffic and business into the village.”
Following graduation from Liberty Central High School Winters worked in retail marketing for 23 years, worked five years for the Village of Liberty, starting with the Department of Public Works, later transferring to the water department, where he obtained his II A & D Certified Water Treatment Plant and Distribution Operator’s license. He also served as the water department’s working supervisor.
He left six years ago to become a technical adviser with the New York Rural Water Association, where he provides technical assistance and financial grants advice to Municipal Water systems in the Eastern section of New York State.
Following Hurricane Rita he was selected by his state association to help the Louisiana State Rural Water Association in emergency response and recovery effort in the Western section of the state of Louisiana.
Winters furthers his education with the Water Treatment Operators course he yearly attends, which enables him to provide improved and up to date services for Municipal Water systems in New York State.
Winters’ work with the New York Rural Water Association brings him in contact with other government agencies and he noted that this opens up doors for potential grants and funding for municipalities.
Richard and his wife, Lynn, have two sons, Richard Jr. and Christopher. Both Richard and Lynn were involved with Cub and Boy Scouting for some 10 years and were swimming instructors for Boy and Girl Scout merit badges.
Winters has been a member of the Liberty Elks for 15-years.
Winters is running in this year’s election with trustee candidates Shirley Lindsley and Corinne McGuire, and their platform includes re-evaluating the garbage fees, joint purchasing and implementation of a financial adviser.
Village elections take place on Wednesday, March 18 from noon to 9 p.m. in the Village of Liberty Municipal Building.