News, Politics, and Culture from 14895

By Craig Braack

Election 2023: Town of Wellsville Highway Superintendent Brian Smith seeks re-election


Learn more about the incumbent candidate, read Q & A

By Andrew Harris

With early voting only days away, we are putting some sunlight on the contest for Town of Wellsville Highway Superintendent. Current superintendent and longtime town employee Brian Smith is asking to be re-elected to the job. Smith is running as a Republican for the job with a salary about about $74,000/year.

Both candidates were asked the same questions to provide readers with the ability to do some comparative analysis. Smith faces competition for the job from Democratic candidate Brad Loucks.

SUN: Why are you running for this elected position ?

SMITH: I am running for the Town Highway Superintendent position because I have worked for the Town of Wellsville for over 30 years. I believe the Highway Department needs a leader with knowledge and experience building and maintaining roads for the safe passage of all motorists. 

SUN: Please detail your Education/Work/Military Experience:  

SMITH: I graduated from Wellsville High School in 1985 and left for military service in July of that year. I completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Advanced Individual Training in December of that year. My first duty station was in Germany with the 78th Transportation Company in Russelsheim as a heavy wheel vehicle mechanic. In 1987, I was reassigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky (101st Airborne Division) 594th Transportation Company. Serving 6 years as a shop foreman with the rank of sergeant. While stationed there I was deployed to Desert Shield/Dessert Storm for combat operations in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. In 1992, I was Honorably discharged from the US Army. I moved back to Wellsville and started working for the Town of Wellsville at that time. 

In 1995, I joined the US Air Force Reserves in Niagara Falls and began my career working in the Ariel Port which consisted of loading and unloading of personal, ammo, vehicles and hazardous cargo on military cargo planes. In 2004, I was called to active duty once again for 2 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in support of Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. I deployed 4 more times until my retirement in 2010. I retired from military service after 23 years of service. 

I have served my community for over 40 years in both the Ambulance Corps and Fire Department, holding the office of Fire Chief in Wellsville and currently as Deputy Fire Coordinator for the Towns of Belmont, Scio, Wellsville, Willing and Independence. 

SUN: What is the single most important job of the Town of Wellsville Highway Superintendent?

SMITH: The single most important job of the Town of Wellsville Highway Superintendent would be snow removal,and the maintenance of all roads, ditches, culverts and bridges within the Town of Wellsville and any other infrastructure.  

SUN: Is the current budget for the “highway department” lean and mean?  or taxpayer beware ? 

The Town Highway portion of our Town Budget has been trimmed significantly of the last two years since I took over the position of Town Highway Superintendent.  We have eliminated another full-time position, made cuts in spending and better managed our CHIPS funding.  I am blessed to have a strong crew of qualified men working for me who want to work hard and accomplish as much as possible every day they show up to work.  All these cuts in spending have been made to offset drastic increases in costs for equipment maintenance and repairs since COVID and the rapid increase in inflation that has risen the costs of parts, tools, blacktop, sealing, etc. by upwards of 50% on many items needed to repair and maintain our highway infrastructure.  Working with the Town Board to maintain a budget that can serve the needs and safety of our community while trimming unnecessary spending has been the toughest challenge I have faced as Highway Superintendent.  I feel that as a team, we have done a fantastic job of accomplishing our objectives.

SUN: The new town building will be finished under your watch, what do you think about that project and how can the town best utilize that facility to benefit the taxpayer ?

SMITH: The Municipal Building project has proven to be a great challenge, but I am confident that we will soon have a facility that will not only better serve our community but will also better represent the pride we have in our community.  We are fortunate to have the assistance of Alfred State College to help offset costs and allow for spending to be concentrated on materials without the burden of labor cost.  I will continue to work closely with the Town Board, Dan Helveston (consultant to the Supervisor) and Shad Alsworth (Town Supervisor) to ensure that we end up with the best final product possible for the lowest investment of taxpayer funds.  Consolidating Highway personnel, Town Clerk, Justice, etc. under one “roof” will certainly be a great benefit to the taxpayers and decrease inefficiencies from redundant services at multiple locations as well as providing more convenient access to the public.

SUN: Should Allegany County have separate highway department, town supervisor, town court, town board, etc, or should we be pursuing more regional governments with planned consolidation ?

SMITH: In my opinion, local government should stay separate from County Government. Local government makes better decisions on issues that happen within their own communities. Taxes paid by the residents should stay within the community in which they are levied. Again, this is only my opinion on this subject.  

Final word:

SMITH: After working for the Town for 30 years, I was excited to accept the Town Highway Superintendent position.  My many years of experience working for multiple Highway Superintendents have helped me to identify the needs of the Town and the definite need for improvement maintaining our system of roadways.  There have been years of neglect in maintaining ditches, grading road edges, replacing culvert pipes, etc. prior to investing in the actual paved road.  Our Highway crew has worked harder than every over the last two years to make up for decades of failed maintenance.  I look forward to four more years working with this incredible group of highway personnel to get our infrastructure back on track

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