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Either John Foss or Earl Jann has been Marilla supervisor for nearly all of the past two decades and the battle between them this year seems to be over who will do the most to control growth.

Both said "we don't want to be another Lancaster," in discussing what they have done and plan to do to ensure that development is slow and carefully planned and unlike what they consider the uncontrolled growth of Lancaster.

A recent survey by the Marilla Conservation Advisory Board found that residents want to preserve open space and both candidates said they have been told the same thing while out campaigning.

Everyone wants to be the last one allowed to build, both candidates have been told -- and not necessarily jokingly.

With the main issue clear, the problem for voters will be determing who will do the best job.

Foss, the incumbent, said you can look at the legislation the Town Board has adopted in the past two years since he has been supervisor to see that he has put the brakes on development.

"Check the record and you will see that things have turned around 180 degrees," he said. But Jann said he has checked and fears the adopted plan for "cluster development" will lead to more building than people expect.

Foss, the lone Democrat on the Town Board, has had the support of Councilmen Earl Gingerich Jr. and Richard Ferber in putting restrictions on new subdivisions and increasing minimum lot sizes.

But Jann said he was the one who proposed the larger lot sizes before he lost to Foss in 1995.

Ah, yes, the 1995 election.

Foss agreed he hopes to at least double his margin of victory this time, following his one-vote win.

Jann, a Republican, said the margin "included some illegal votes" cast by former residents still in the Marilla registry.

Foss said he will continue to run a positive campaign and said of his opponent, "I don't like his methods, but I can't say I dislike him."

But Jann seems to be taking the campaign a little more personally. "He's not my favorite person," he said of Foss.

"Part of the reason I'm running is that some of the people aligned with Foss have done nothing but try to destroy my reputation and devalue everything I stood for while supervisor.

"I'm running because it gives me a platform to tell people that's wrong and because my reputation means a lot to me."

Jann also said Foss has failed to deliver on promises to obtain grants to help fund water districts and the $10 increase he proposed in the sanitation fee is not necessary.

Both candidates declined to predict the outcome and Jann pointed out that Marilla voters are an independent bunch.

"Remember, Marilla was the only town to back Jimmy Griffin when he ran for county executive (in 1991)," he said.

The position pays $20,570.

In addition to the Republican line, Jann has the Freedom and Right to Life parties lines.

Foss has the Democratic, Conservative and Independence.

Five are seeking two seats on the Town Board with incumbents Ferber, who has the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines, and Joseph Holcum, Freedom, Right to Life, being challenged by Fred G. Specht, Democratic, Conservative; George Kratzel, Republican, and David Carlson, Independence and Freedom.

There also is a contest for town justice where incumbent Thomas S. Labin, Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Liberal, is being challenged by Edward H. DeKraz Jr., Republican, Right to Life and Freedom.

Running unopposed are Town Clerk Dorothy M. Reichert, Tax Collector Mary Emm Lucas, Assessor Earl H. Dabb and Highway Superintendent David H. Pierce.

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