Mayfield supervisor, clerk, board seats to be decided

Residents in the town of Mayfield have several contested races in which to cast votes Tuesday.

Residents in the town of Mayfield have several contested races in which to cast votes Tuesday.

Richard Argotsinger

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield town supervisor

AGE: 63

BALLOT LINES: Republican

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University; Mayfield town councilman; Mayfield Deputy Town Supervisor

PERSONAL: Married, four children

OCCUPATION: Operator, Argotsinger Farms

Jack Putman

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield town supervisor

AGE: 58

BALLOT LINES: Conservative

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Fulton County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board member for 35 years; Mayfield town councilman for 12 years; current chairman of the town of Mayfield Board of Assessment Review

PERSONAL: Married, son, three grandchildren

OCCUPATION: Dairy farmer; Mayfield Mills & Furnace president

Cheryl Gifford

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield town clerk

AGE: 49

BALLOT LINES: Conservative

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree in business administration from Fulton-Montgomery Community College

PERSONAL: Married, children

OCCUPATION: Village of Mayfield deputy clerk

Dorothy Hart

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield town clerk

AGE: 56

BALLOT LINES: Republican and Open Door

PERSONAL: Married, two children, grandchild

OCCUPATION: Mayfield town clerk

Shawn Humphrey

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield Town Board

AGE: 35

BALLOT LINES: Conservative

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree in computer science from Fulton-Montgomery Community College; currently working on bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology from SUNYIT Utica-Rome.

PERSONAL: Parents in the area

OCCUPATION: Firefighter

Charles Morrison

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield Town Board

AGE: 63

BALLOT LINES: Republican

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Worked as equipment operator instructor for state Department of Transportation for 15 years

PERSONAL: Married 44 years, two children, three grandchildren


Thomas Ruliffson

OFFICE SOUGHT: Mayfield Town Board

BALLOT LINES: Republican

The race for town supervisor, town clerk and two seats on the Town Board have newcomers vying against incumbents, due to what some candidates say is a desire for change in their local government. But others question whether change for change’s sake is really necessary.

Town supervisor

Incumbent town Supervisor Richard Argotsinger will face an old opponent in next week’s election. Former town Councilman Jack Putman is once again seeking the top spot in town government, two years after he challenged Argotsinger in the last election.

“A lot of people were asking me to,” said Putman on why he decided to run this year. “Actually it’s been a sort of goal of mine for almost 20 years. I first got elected councilman in 1993, so it’s kind of been something to shoot for. And well, currently I’m not a councilman, and they have enough candidates running for that this year.”

Putman lost on the Republican ticket in September’s primaries, but he had enough petition signatures to run on the Conservative line. His conservative position is one he believes will resonate with residents in the current economic climate.

Fiscal restraint is needed not only at the town level, but also countywide, said Putman. As town supervisor, he would serve on Fulton County’s Board of Supervisors, where he said he would not be hesitant to make the hard decisions needed to balance the county budget.

The main problem Putman sees at the town level is contention among elected officials.

“There seems to be a problem of personalities,” he said, adding that he would bring needed cohesiveness to government relations.

The main issues he would try to tackle as town supervisor are advancement of commercial development within town, financial restraint with the budget and shared services, such as water and sewer, between the town and the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield.

“I guess mostly I would bring a good sense of priorities to some of the decisions that are being made,” Putman said. “I just hope that things don’t continue with everybody going along with things as they are for the sake of it.”

But Argotsinger said what the town needs is stability, since it already operates quite well compared with other municipalities within Fulton County.

In addition to keeping taxes low, Argotsinger said he wants to make upgrades to projects in town and at the county level. Various county departments should be consolidated, he said, in order to run them more efficiently.

“It kind of woke me up when I first got this position of supervisor,” he said. “There’s a lot more involved than you realize on a day-to-day operation. Even at the county level, I don’t think most people really realize how much is involved and how many different directions you have to go.”

With state mandates and no state funding for them, the county is in a tough position, he said. And although the town of Mayfield has a “pretty stable government,” there is always room for improvement and preparation for hard times, he said.

“It’s going to get really tough, and I think it’s going to filter down to the towns even more so in the future,” he said.

Ultimately, Argotsinger said he is running on his experience. He served as a town councilman for 21⁄2 years before moving on to deputy supervisor when the former town supervisor passed away. In March 2009, he was appointed to his current position as town supervisor.

Town clerk

Challenging nine-year incumbent Town Clerk Dorothy Hart is political newcomer Cheryl Gifford. Though she’s never run for elected office before, Gifford currently works as deputy clerk for the village of Mayfield, a position she said has prepared her well for elected office.

Gifford also worked as a keyboard specialist, served as zoning and planning board clerk and assisted the village assessor, code enforcer and town supervisor. She said her previous experience with both the town and village gives her the municipal background needed for the job.

“I’m overly helpful and friendly,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing, is that I’m extremely helpful. I will go out of my way to help somebody.”

Town clerks are responsible for vital statistics, town records and tax collection. Gifford said if elected she will go out of her way to help not just people in departments she’s responsible for, but anybody who walks in.

“Some people, if it’s not their job they won’t do it,” she said, “but I would go out of my way, and if somebody was not available, I would be there to help.”

Hart is seeking re-election for the simple reason that she enjoys her job, she said.

“I enjoy working with these people,” she said, “and I’ve learned and met a lot of really nice people. I just really enjoy my job.”

As a lifelong resident, Hart said she is always willing to go the extra step to help out residents. Continuity is good once someone knows the job, she said.

Hart is a registered municipal clerk with the New York State Municipal Clerk’s Association and is also a notary.

“My days are very busy, and I can always find things to do,” she said. “It’s not like you’re just behind a desk. I’ve lived in the town all my life, and I just really enjoy my job.”

Town board

Three candidates, including two incumbents and a former councilman, are running for two open spots on the Town Board.

Now that he’s retired, Charles Morrison said he wants to try his hand at the Town Board once more. He previously served as councilman from 1999-2003, but his job with the state Department of Transportation didn’t allow him to make every meeting and so he didn’t seek another term.

Residents should vote for him now, he said, because he brings past experience and he would work well with Highway Superintendent Melvin Dopp. He goes to most Town Board meetings now and said he has always been interested in town politics.

After he left the Town Board, Morrison said he noticed the town budget process grow more difficult with each passing year.

“We would have to make some hard decisions,” he said. “The whole board can do that pretty well, and I feel as though I’m capable of doing that. We made them before.”

The town of Mayfield needs to run its beach properly and keep up with improvements there over time. Morrison said if elected he would also recommend zoning changes to allow for the development of more businesses in town.

“The more businesses you have, the more tax base you have,” he said.

Incumbent Shawn Humphrey said he is no longer green to town government. He wants a second term because it will allow him an opportunity to build on the knowledge he has gained in the last four years as councilman.

“A lot of people are looking for change, change, change,” he said, “and a lot of people don’t realize what it takes to learn that position. I think the first four years, there was so much information coming in and it was rather overwhelming. Now I could hit the ground running. I’ve got four years under my belt, and I feel I can reapply that knowledge as we go along.”

The 35-year-old Johnstown firefighter said he offers a fresh view to the Town Board. As the youngest board member, he said he brings ideas to the table that maybe never occurred to anyone before.

If re-elected, Humphrey said he would push to develop more assets within the town for residents and businesses alike. For example, Northampton recently installed a fishing pier by its boat launch, and he said it’s something different that nobody else in the area has.

“It attracts certain people,” Humphrey said, “and we need to continue to grow what we have and look at other avenues of ways to attract people to our area.”

As a member of the town’s beach committee, Humphrey said he will continue to expand usage of the increasingly successful beach. The nearby town of Broadalbin closed its beach earlier this year, providing a boon to the Mayfield beach.

He said he was proud that the board was able to offer the same quality of lifeguard staff this year while increasing upkeep and maintenance of the beach and accepting more permit holders.

“In our town, there’s been a small push for change, and I think a lot of people are looking for change,” he said, “but there’s nothing really wrong with Mayfield. Our tax rates have been extraordinarily low for the area, and I’m proud to be a major factor in that for the last four years. Change sometimes for the sake of change isn’t always a good thing.”

Incumbent Councilman Thomas Ruliffson did not return calls. He is seeking a second four-year term on the Town Board on the Republican line.


Unopposed races in the town of Mayfield:

• Incumbent Marjorie Jones is seeking another term as town justice. She has served since January 2008.

• Incumbent Melvin Dopp is running for re-election as highway superintendent. He has served in the position since January 2010.

Categories: Schenectady County

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