John E. Sweeney Jr., who was appointed last week to serve as Somerset supervisor, has deep roots in the community.
His family has been in town for five generations, and he and his brother, Arthur, are fourth-generation farmers, operating a 240-acre dairy farm.
The Sweeney family also has a long history of community service. Sweeney's father, John E. Sr., served on the Town Board before his unexpected death in 1987.
Subsequently, John Jr. was approached to serve on the town Planning Board, which he joined in 1988. He served on that board until joining the Town Board in 2003.
"I like to keep things simple and if we can do things simply and honestly, that's the way I like to do it," he said. "And I like working with people, and with what I consider to be a very good Town Board. We're open to suggestions and ideas."
Sweeney said he expects many residents to turn out for the board's Feb. 14 public hearing concerning the moratorium on building windmills.
Citing local public support for the windmills, Sweeney said, "We need an ordinance that fits our needs but protects our residents."
Sweeney is filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Herbert A. Downs, who was named administrative director of the Niagara County Water District last fall.
That post creates a conflict of interest for a town supervisor, but Downs was unable to withdraw from the uncontested race for supervisor and was re-elected in November.
The Town Board appointed Randall Wayner to fill Sweeney's board seat for the remainder of this year.
Both the supervisor and Town Board posts will be on the November ballot to fill the remaining year of those unexpired terms. Sweeney said he will run for supervisor in November.
Downs was supervisor for 13 years and had served earlier terms on the Planning and Zoning boards.
About Sweeney, Downs said, "John brings a lot of experience to the board from his work on the Planning Board, and he's a hardworking individual who thinks things through thoroughly. He works for himself, so that affords him the opportunity to attend meetings during the day and evening, like I was able to do."
Downs sold and installed floor coverings for 36 years until an injury from an auto accident ended that career two years ago, he said.
He said his greatest satisfaction as supervisor was "the ability to work with the people of the town and keep Somerset the nice community that it is."