From Andrew Harris, 10/29/21
After the Republican primary election in June of this year, Kevin LaForge decided to lay low and focus on his business responsibilities before launching his Independent campaign.
Last week his signs started popping up around town and you might have even heard from him, asking for your vote in the election set to be finalized on Tuesday November 2nd. Kevin wants your vote for a few good reasons and we spent a some time talking over his ambitions for another term as District 4 legislator.
LaForge served District 4 from 2010 until 2018 and has been involved in county government during the last three years. He currently serves Cornell Cooperative Extension as President of the Board of Directors. Kevin previously served on the board of the Allegany County Land Bank, an effort he spearheaded during his previous two terms as legislator.
The first point that Kevin wants voters in Wellsville and Andover(District 4,) to understand is that he has a high regard for all the other candidates and has been in their shoes.
“Gary Barnes is a good conservative, so is Steve Havey, and I have a good relationship with both. Chief Rumfelt has a reputation as a fine lawman and volunteer and the number of “bullet votes” he received in the primary is quite impressive, the most in recent memory.”
After his eight years of experience in the county legislature, LaForge has nothing but respect for every candidate on the ballot.
That doesn’t mean that he is happy about some of the realities in Allegany County and the lack of action on key fronts. LaForge points to population loss over the last decade:
“Our population has lost about 2500 people over the last ten years. The birth rate and the death rate were both pretty steady, meaning that those people moved out of Allegany County. We have to work hard to reverse that trend.”
Another major theme from LaForge is the essential need for consolidation of government in Allegany County. This has really been Kevin’s motivation for entering politics since his first campaign for legislator. If you discuss the subject with him, he presents startling numbers:
“We have 29 towns, 10 villages, 18 water systems, 8 sewer treatment plants, 14 school districts, and 45000 people. 29 highway superintendents and town justices and town supervisors, a dozen school superintendents, and that is just the administrative staff. Each entity has separate employees, separate insurance policies, legal fees, and so on.”
LaForge went on to explain that the need for consolidation within Allegany County may soon be borne from necessity.
“The workforce shortage isn’t going away if you look at the data. We have to recognize all the work accomplished by the shared services initiative, accelerate that effort, and formalize a plan to consolidate our county.”
As a previous representative in District 4, LaForge points out his commitment to Andover as the smaller of the two communities in the district. “In my previous service to the district I’ve always respected Andover and provided equal due diligence.”
If elected, one of the biggest questions that the next legislature will face is how to spend the 9 million dollars Allegany County received from the American Rescue Fund. With quite a bit of latitude in how the county spends the money, some serious decisions will need to be made. LaForge has a general guiding principle that he thinks should be applied while considering how to allocate the funds.
“I think we have to focus that money toward projects that provide real improvements that will benefit the entire county. The Friendship DPW building project is a good example. The Great Lakes Cheese episode calls for investment in other hard infrastructure like water lines and site development that will allow us to compete with other counties for major development.”
LaForge is a lifelong student of Allegany County politics. That knowledge, coupled with decades of business experience, makes Kevin uniquely qualified to serve the district. Why should you consider a vote for the only Independent on the ballot in District 4?
“Elections have consequences. My business exists because of this county and I feel an obligation to use my experience to be of service to this county. I’ve been encouraged to run in this election by some of my former colleagues in the legislature and voters in District 4. During my previous tenures I’ve served as Vice Chairman of the Board, Chair of the Human Services Committee, Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee, and served as a member of the Human Services, Public Safety, and Planning and Development Committees. I believe that I have the experience and vision to be of service to the county I live and work in.”
To clarify the compliment above about Chief Rumfelt’s record “bullet votes,” some explanation maybe handy. Bullet voting is something commonly used in elections where multiple candidates vie for multiple positions. By only choosing your preferred candidate, instead voting for all the candidates possible, the bullet vote increases your candidates chances in a crowded, competitive race.
Kevin reminds voters to look for his name on the bottom of the ballot. Your support is greatly appreciated.