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Keeping Marilla rural is everyone's platform

After about five years out of local elected office, farmer and Independent candidate Earl Gingerich would like to win the Marilla supervisor's job and apply the same kind of tight fiscal management in the rural town of 5,700 that he applies to farming.

"The small items will add up faster than the big ones because they're not paying attention to them," Gingerich, 46, said of his interest in managing town expenses. "That's why we've been successful as farmers when so many other farms have collapsed."

His opponent, George Gertz, 58, a Republican, is a councilman, kitchen designer and volunteer firefighter and former chief, who has spent two of his six years in office as deputy supervisor. He wants to keep the town in shape by following the course set by retiring Supervisor John Foss.

"I thought it would be the next logical step," said Gertz, a graduate of Buffalo's Bishop Turner High School.

"The town is in excellent fiscal condition. We're going to retire our debt next year," he said of the $100,000 that remains of $500,000 borrowed to pay for a fire hall and community center.

The town, which charges no tax for Town Hall operations of about $800,000 annually, has cash reserves of $500,000. This fiscal health makes Foss, a Democrat, feel good about leaving.

He said he has decided to endorse Gertz because he is good at bookkeeping and works well with other board members.

Gertz, who is married with two grown children, said his accomplishments include developing a disaster plan that was used to help people in need of oxygen and medicine when last October's early snowstorm cut off power. He wants to encourage the hiring of a second sheriff's deputy to handle local calls.

He is joined by Marilla's other candidates in feeling adamant about preserving the rural character of the town and continuing to use government money to buy development rights in order to ensure properties continue to be used for farming.

Two of the three people running for open Town Board seats, the incumbents, spoke about their concern for preserving Marilla's agricultural character.

Barbara Spanitz, 68, a Republican, retired after 31 years as a secretary at Cornell Cooperative Extension. For the last 30 years she has also had a small business doing tax returns.
Warren Handley, 53, a Republican, who owns a carpet selling business, has been on the board for four years.

"We need to keep developers out of our town," he said.

Deborah Lerner, who is running on the Democratic and Independent lines, could not be reached to comment.


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