Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 4, 2013

Supervisor faces newcomer in Wheatfield race

Niagara Gazette — He may have been a reluctant candidate in 2009, but four years later Wheatfield Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe is more than ready for a third term.

“I think we’re doing a great job,” he said. “I still think I’m the best candidate for the job and I’m looking for at least one more term.”

However, the former town justice may face his most formidable challenge yet in fellow Republican, but endorsed Democratic candidate, Thomas Larson.

“I submitted my petitions to the Republican party,” Larson said. “But word got out about my ideas and the county Democratic chairman became aware of my positions and allowed me to run on the Democratic line”

Larson did challenge Cliffe for the GOP nomination, but was turned back in the September primary election setting up the general election showdown this Tuesday.

In an interesting twist, the incumbent is running on his four-year record in office, while the challenger claims that record is the reason for a change.

“I think it boils down to this current supervisor has been bad for town residents as it relates to taxes and (public) services,” Larson said. 

Cliffe disputes that charge.

“Taxes have gone down each of the last four years,” Cliffe said, “and we’ve maintained all the normal things a town is supposed to do.”

The supervisor said his greatest challenge in his first two terms was “getting the town’s finances back in shape.” In 2009, a state audit showed the town was between $600,000 and $700,000 in the red. 

The town now has a reported $2.5 million surplus.

However, Larson says the surplus shows town residents are over-taxed.

“After four years we have a $2.5 million dollar surplus and the supervisor’s proposed (2014) budget would have an additional surplus,” Larson said. “The surplus is a result of over taxation. That’s the crux of my argument.”

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