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Clarence Barber to challenge Mayor Winters in Liberty

By Kathy Daley
LIBERTY — February 4, 2011 — Richard Winters says Liberty is showing definite signs of forward movement.
Clarence Barber feels the village is moving backwards.
Those differing takes on the health of the downtown and the village as a whole are to be expected: Winters, a Republican, is defending his tenure as Liberty’s mayor, while Barber, a Democrat, is seeking to unseat the incumbent in village elections on Tuesday, March 15.
Two village trustee positions are also up for a vote.
“I think I can make Liberty a better place for children to grow up in,” said Barber. “I have a lot of contacts with a lot of people.
“We need more businesses in town,” Barber added, “and we need decision-making to be more informed. I ask (village officials) about how much money the Village Court has been losing, and no one can give me an exact figure.”
By contrast, Mayor Winters argues that the Village Court scenario is an example of his own fiscal conservatism.
“The Village Court is a redundant service (with the Town Court across the street) and is not necessary,” said Winters. By seeking a merger with the town’s court, “I’ve been trying to help out the people financially,” the mayor said.
A ballot vote in March will allow voters to determine whether to abolish the position of Village Justice, in effect, abolishing the court.
Winters cites other ways his administration has saved taxpayer dollars. For example, a decision to harvest and sell timber from the village’s water works property paid for two new trucks to maintain the water distribution system. The funds also paid for an engineer’s fee to do pre-planning on a new water tank to replace the village’s aging tank.
In addition, said Winters, he came up with the idea to buy a new loader and back hoe for the Department of Public Works by applying for New York State CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) funding.
“I’ve also worked with the Chamber of Commerce, which now has more volunteers and is more active,” Winters said. “The downtown is looking better, and attitudes seem to have changed about it.”
When not serving as mayor, which is a part-time position, Winters works for the New York Rural Water Association as a troubleshooter for water systems from Long Island to the Canadian border.
Says challenger Barber: “I’m available, he’s not. I don’t want to say anything bad about the mayor. Maybe he’s doing his job. But I figure no one has a hand on the pulse of the village. I’m known for availability and accountability.”
Barber serves as deputy supervisor for the Town of Liberty, filling in when Supervisor John Schmidt is away a few months out of the year. Barber worked for 30 years with the Town of Liberty highway department, including 20 years as elected highway superintendent. He served as a town councilman from 2006 to 2009.
Barber is running with Democrat trustee candidates Nick Piatek, a computer programmer, and Dan Ratner Jr., who co-owns a Liberty landscaping and construction company. Village Justice Harold Bauman is also running on the slate.
Winters is finishing out his first two-year term as mayor. Prior to his election, he served as village trustee for one year.
His running mates are incumbent GOP trustees Shirley Lindsley, retired from the Jeff Bank, and Corinne McGuire, head coach of alpine skiing for the Liberty HS.

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