SCOTIA – A newcomer and a long-time village trustee will face off in the Democratic primary on June 28 to become the party’s nominee for mayor of Scotia. Joe Talbot and Joe Rizzo will square off in the race.
Talbot was born and raised in Glenville. He previously worked as the vice president of the retirement benefits group at AXA. He is now a stay-at-home dad helping his wife, Kim, with her babysitting service. While he hasn’t run for office, Talbot and his wife are both active in the community, with his wife serving on the Scotia-Glenville Central School District School Board. He has served as a board member and treasurer for the Scotia Glenville Traveling Children’s Museum and was also the president and member of the Scotia Rotary Club.
Joe Talbot said he’s decided to run for mayor because he feels he has the skills to lead the village.
“The village needs someone with a background and working knowledge of budgets and finance,” he said. “There has been a feeling in the village that the administration currently doesn’t have a plan for growth and that it’s just tax increase on tax increase.”
He said while the village can’t control some expenses he feels his knowledge with financial long term planning would be valuable, along with his background with executive level management and operational development to ensure residents know what’s going on.
Rizzo has lived in the village for more than 30 years and has served as a trustee going on 20 years. He is an employee of the Daily Gazette.
Rizzo said he decided to run for mayor because he is dedicated to serving the residents of the village.
“I have experience,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of good work for the village and I want to continue that as mayor.”
Both candidates said one of the issues facing the community that they’ll look to fix is the budget and revenue coming into the village.
Talbot said long-term planning is needed.
“Right now the board is very reactionary and issues to issue,” he said.
Talbot said he’s already found a not-for-profit organization that works with municipalities on planning and wants to work with them to figure out long-term planning for the village. As part of the budgetary issue is a problem bringing revenue into the village, Talbot said the village needs to grow businesses in the area to bring in additional revenue. He said there are grants available that could help with that but he would also like to see the creation of a business incubator.
“I have talked to some of the leaders of the village about how we might help new business get started here in the village,” he said. “Scotia has a lot to offer to business and to families but we have to make it easier for them if we can.”
Rizzo said the village needs to begin living in its means, and that means working closely with departments on their budgets.
“It’s going to be difficult because our tax base isn’t growing,” he said.
So he said he would look at whether the county could provide more sales tax to the village.
Both candidates also said a lack of communication between the village and residents is an issue. Rizzo referred to it as a lack of transparency.
“I want the residents of the village of Scotia to know what’s going on,” he said.
That’s why he’s suggesting a quarterly newsletter that states what’s happening to keep people more informed.
“I’ve seen other municipalities do that,” he said.
Talbot said there is a lack of confidence in the board, in part due to a lack of communication.
“I would update the village website to make it easier for citizens to find what they are looking for,” he said.
He said he would also push to get people to sign up for village emails, noting only about 1,200 people are on the list now out of around 8,000 residents. He would also increase the village’s presence on Facebook, see the trustees and mayor have office hours to meet with people.
“I would also look into some form of town hall style meeting as an alternative to the “privilege of the floor” so that we can have more question and answer between the people and the administration,” he said.
Rizzo also said he wants to fix some quality of life issues in the village, such as vacant properties or ones that have not been kept up.
Correction: 6/13, 11:25 a.m.: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect date for the primary. The primary date is Tuesday, June 28.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.