Democrat Photos | J. Sager and T. Waddell
TOWN OF LIBERTY Supervisor Frank DeMayo, a Republican and Independent, is facing challenge for the position from John Schmidt, a Democrat.
Incumbent DeMayo Faces Schmidt
DeMayo Loves The Challenge of Problem-Solving
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY October 16, 2007 Frank DeMayo doesn’t believe in problems.
“There are just circumstances, situations and solutions to challenges,” the Liberty supervisor explains.
Running with the backing of the Republican Party in his quest for re-election, DeMayo is well-versed in challenges.
He’s long on solutions.
A 15-year resident who moved from Long Island, DeMayo got involved from the get-go.
He did stints on the Liberty Board of Education and village planning board, volunteered with Liberty ALIVE for Sullivan Renaissance and what is now the Liberty Community Development Corporation (CDC).
He spent time questioning Liberty’s government and future.
“I was a government fighter you could say, and you always heard from government officials, ‘You should only know what it’s like,’” DeMayo recalled.
So he put his money where his mouth was.
Nine months before the supervisor vote of 2003, DeMayo started attending meetings. He read up on town laws and zoning.
With the Democrats’ support, he ran for supervisor and won.
Four years later, he’s officially a member of the Independence Party with a public vow to keep politics out of government.
He’s put his focus on partnership within the community using his own background to bring the four main taxing authorities with jurisdiction in Liberty (the town, village, school and county) together to work as a unit.
He’s joined the board of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development and the leadership board of the county chamber.
“One of the big focuses of this administration is to bring in business,” DeMayo explained, “but you don’t just get on the phone and say, ‘Come to Liberty!’”
Instead Liberty has developed an agri/industrial park for which they’ve been actively wooing a meat-processing plant.
Also in the works is a shovel-ready industrial site located out near the duck farm an area DeMayo said is perfect for industrialization because of the character of businesses already there.
To fund the project, the town has already received a $100,000 grant one of several DeMayo has brought in during his tenure.
He estimates the town has benefited from more than $300,000 in grants, not including community development block grants and other aid garnered by Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, with whom DeMayo has fostered a good relationship.
Sidewalk and safety grants for Swan Lake, monies to help the Liberty CDC, a $40,000 grant for the village skate park, funds to build parking lots in the village… they’ve all been found and earmarked.
DeMayo said he and the town board have split up the town to provide service to every single resident.
Parksville now has a committee of residents in place to plan for its future, with an eye on the I-86 changes that are imminent.
The same goes for Swan Lake where the Renaissance group brought in the Golden Feather last year, and the CDC has been going full bore on studies for improvement.
Surveys of White Sulphur Springs have revealed residents really want to see their hamlet preserved as it is and that’s DeMayo’s plan.
He directed the folks in charge of redrafting a comprehensive plan to incorporate resident comments first and foremost.
“This isn’t a government plan, and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “It wasn’t me and the committee and government officials who made the comprehensive plan, it was the people.”
Not every attempt has been a home run.
The Road Rally in White Sulphur Springs turned out to be trouble but the outcry from the community created an inroads for town officials to get more input from the folks in that sector of the town.
Building a new highway barn was met with some resistance and ultimately required a tax hike but it had to be done, DeMayo said.
Looking back, the town saved by acting when it did. And it earned by increasing the efficiency of the highway department.
Working with Highway Superintendent Tim Pellam on a plan for the roads of the town is next on DeMayo’s agenda.
He’s been systematic, working what is officially a part-time job to best suit the taxpayers.
“This door, provided I’m here, is always open,” he explained. “You don’t need to make an appointment to come see me.”
He spends at least 50 hours between meetings and paperwork on town business, but DeMayo said there’s plenty more to do.
He wants to get it done.
He wants to move beyond “idle chatter” to address tax relief, one of the main reasons he’s put such an emphasis on economic development. What Liberty needs is smart development, something he well understands thanks to a degree from Syracuse University in planning.
A $100,000 grant-funded study will soon be under way to look at ways the town and village can cooperate and possibly consolidate some services.
The town is looking for grants to develop its environmental conservation plan.
It all comes off of the comprehensive plan and the people.
“We want a true direction,” DeMayo explained. “The people really gave us the true direction, we’ve just put it together in a logical fashion.”
Of course, DeMayo is one of the people of Liberty. With wife Rita and their two children (Liberty grads who now live in New Paltz), he fell in love with Liberty.
“I absolutely love it up here, you’ll never get me out of here!” he said with his characteristic grin. “There’s good stuff going on right now in Liberty.”
Jobs and Taxes Top Schmidt's Agenda
By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY John E. Schmidt, 63, is the Democratic challenger seeking to overthrow Republication Frank DeMayo, the incumbent supervisor in the Town of Liberty.
The lifelong resident of the county graduated from Livingston Manor Central School in 1962 and right after high school got into the local electrical union as an apprentice.
Four years later, Schmidt completed his apprenticeship, and has been an electrical contractor since 1974.
He owns Electro Electrical in Liberty, which he operates with wife Hazel and their son James.
The Schmidts’ other son, Derrick, owns Eastern Electrical Contracting, while daughters Kristina lives in New Jersey and Jaci resided in Idaho.
“We have seven grandchildren, so far,” said the proud grandfather.
Schmidt grew up in Lew Beach, where his father Harold was a dairy farmer, working from day to dusk at Wayside Farms.
He has been a member of the White Sulphur Springs Volunteer Fire Department since1971, and over the years has served as vice president and president of the company, and vice president and chairman of the district’s fire commissioners.
Before that, he was a volunteer firefighter with Beaverkill Valley.
Schmidt is a member of the local Elks and Rotary, is a member of the Sullivan County BOCES vocational advisory committee
He is a licensed Sullivan County electrical contractor, and at the NYS level a certified building inspector and code enforcement officer.
Schmidt has been a member of the town planning board since 1985, serving for many years as chairman.
Asked why he’s running for political office, Schmidt replied, “I thought I’d give it a try, because over the years I’ve put together some ideas to help out the township as far as jobs.”
“I’d like to reinstitute the Sullivan County Supervisors Committee, to work with the county legislators, getting information to the townships,” he added.
Schmidt said that if elected, he plans to “touch base” with neighboring townships such as Thompson and Rockland to explore the idea of “being equal partners” in such infrastructure projects as sewer and water systems.
And then there’s jobs and new business.
“Over the years on the planning board, I’ve acquired some contacts with real estate dealers out of the area, and that could bring some businesses into the local area,” said Schmidt.
“We’ll see if we can get some jobs for people in the county,” he added. “A lot of our children are forced to leave the area [because of a lack of jobs].”
“The stores will come after you get business, people opening up stores to sell stuff, and then you’ll have people going out looking to buy stuff,” he said.
Schmidt said that one of the biggest complaints he fields as a member of the planning board is about density: too many folks trying to live in too little space in the town.
“I think we have to do something about that, people are just screaming that there are way too many houses on such small pieces of land,” he said.
Also on his agenda is offering activities for kids to do after school lets out rather than walking up and down the streets.”
Schmidt’s platform, in a nutshell: “More jobs and see if we can do something with the taxes… work with the state to get those taxes down.”