VESTAL, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The controversy over the Retreat at Bunn Hill has Democrats in Vestal turning against each other.
A slate of 3 Democratic candidates for Supervisor and 2 board positions are running under the banner Real Democracy 4 Vestal.
Supervisor candidate Maria Sexton and Board candidates Glenn Miller and Robert Greene say the current Supervisor, Democrat John Schaffer, and the board refuse to listen to residents or answer their questions.
They also accuse town officials of being rude, unprofessional and unaccountable.
Sexton moved to Vestal 5 years ago to be near family after spending 9 years as a teacher in New York City and 20 years as a cop with the NYPD.
She says, if elected, she would revamp the town’s website providing more transparency and an opportunity for residents to ask questions, share concerns and take surveys.
Sexton says officials need to answer to the people.
“You need to show them where their money is, what you’re doing. There shouldn’t be anything hidden from the public. When you go to a town meeting, you should be able to say something and get a real answer. None of that happens here.”
Schaffer says the 3 candidates were recruited by opponents of The Retreat at Bunn Hill, a housing complex under development on 43 acres along Bunn Hill Road.
Schaffer says they’re running a single issue campaign with a no future growth platform.
He says the board represents all of the town, not just people opposed to Bunn Hill.
Miller grew up in Vestal but then lived for most of his adult life in Arizona as a computer support specialist before returning a year ago to care for his aging mother.
Miller thinks the town’s priorities are skewed.
“You’ve got developers and you’ve got leadership that is not really listening so much to the citizens but they’re more listening to their pocketbooks.”
Sexton and Miller are both retired and single and say they have plenty of time to devote to the town.
Schaffer says he doesn’t think either of them know much about how the town operates and haven’t attended many board meetings.
He doesn’t believe he’s ever met them, much less been rude to them.
Schaffer says he’s circulating petitions after being asked by both Democrats and Republicans to run again.
The 2 board positions up for election are currently held by Democrat Patty Fitzgerald and Independent John Fletcher who was appointed last year to fill the vacancy when Republican Jason Ellis resigned.