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Two candidates for Hamburg town supervisor face off at forum

Candidates for Hamburg town supervisor faced each other at a Hamburg Chamber of Commerce forum Thursday at Woodlawn Beach State Park.

Both James Shaw, the endorsed Democrat, and Dennis Gaughan, a Democrat endorsed by the Republican Party, said taxes have gone up in recent years in the town.

Shaw, 71, said he wants to save money and increase revenues, offer retirement incentives to longtime employees, control overtime, manage the fleet of cars, focus on redevelopment of vacant structures and convene joint meetings of the town and village boards.

"I'll work like hell to do a good job," he said.

Gaughan, 62, listed 14 initiatives, including lowering taxes by two percent, changing street lights to LED lights to save money, centralizing purchasing, increasing court revenue, reducing the supervisor's salary and having an open door policy.

"If you didn't like something I did, I'd expect you to come and tell me," he said.

Here is what the two candidates said about some other issues.

--- The future of Woodlawn Beach State Park, which is owned by the state and run by the town:


He does not think New York State will offer much help to the town to run the beach, but he would fight to keep it open and run as efficiently as possible.

"You're not going to make money at Woodlawn Beach, but if it's a break-even, or close to break-even proposition like it is now, it does improve the quality of our services," Gaughan said. "This beach has to be preserved. It has to be more tightly controlled. "


He said some losses at the beach are tough to trace and believes the town should get help from the state and county in running Woodlawn Beach. Negotiating a new contract with the state would be a priority for him.

"What we're running here is a regional asset," he said. "Hamburg taxpayers should not be required to subsidize a regional tourist destination."

--- Economic development and the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency:


He said the supervisor was removed from the IDA board and some members are there for political reasons.

"Right now I don't particularly agree with some of the actions that the Hamburg IDA takes. But, it is a very, very necessary thing to keep its own identity," Gaughan said.


He said he is not in favor of local IDAs bidding against each other for businesses, but thinks Hamburg is a business-friendly town.

"I'm not sure the Hamburg IDA is all that necessary to our future, but I'm willing to listen and learn," he said.

--- The opiate crisis:


He would set up a non-profit organization that the town, two villages and two school districts would fund, along with private sector money. Drug counselors, retired teachers and social workers would be hired to work in the schools. If there is not the inter-municipal cooperation, he would spend money to become more proactive.

"It's no good to see these kids in court," Shaw said. "Most of these children are not criminals, they're addicts, they're sick."


He would convert the former Immaculata Academy into a treatment center for teenagers, run by area medical personnel. Shaw's suggestion of going into the schools would not work, he said.

"We do that now. It doesn't work," Gaughan said. "There's practically nothing you can do in the Town of Hamburg if your son or daughter is on opiates."

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