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Five Questions for Somers Board Candidate Clinchy

Richard Clinchy and his family have lived in Somers more than 25 years. The Clinchy children graduated from Somers High and Mrs. Clinchy is the librarian at the Primrose School.

Clinchy earned a BA at Hobart College and an MAT in Political Science at Boston College. He has followed up his education with post-graduate courses at Fordham, WestConn and CNR.

For 32 years he taught Economics, Government and Law at John Jay High School. He coached high school basketball, baseball and softball for 33 seasons and was president of the faculty for 15 years. He retired last year.

Clinchy served as a trustee on the Somers Board of Education for 12 years and was vice president and president for a total of seven years. Since 2007 he has been on the Town Board and currently acts as liaison to the Recreation Board, the Library Board, the Conservation Board. He is a member of both the Energy and Environment Committee and the Somers Land Trust.

He has been endorsed by the Somers Republican town committee, the Somers Republican Club, the Independence Party, the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party.

The questions presented to Councilman Clinchy were:

1. Why are you running for town board?

2. Why should Republicans vote for you in the primary and how are you different from your competition?

3. What is the biggest issue or problem in Somers right now and what would you do about it?

4. If you have served in political office, what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

5. What would you like to see in Somers that is not currently a part of the community?

His responding essay follows.

I am running for the Town Board simply because it is my way of helping my town, and I must say that I have enjoyed the work more and more as time has gone by.  I think that the reason for that is because we have been working together to solve problems cooperatively and in a respectful manner.  Reasonable people can agree to disagree reasonably and respectfully and that is how progress comes about.  To see the opposite end of the spectrum just take a look at the U.S. Congress.  People are looking for bipartisan problem-solving and we have been trying to make Somers a beacon for other towns to look toward for a positive example of a government that works.  These are the ideas that I ran on four years ago, and I think that the Republican Party endorsed me because they came to believe that my word is my bond and that I am worthy of their trust.  On the local level partisan differences should be virtually non-existent because local problems have no political affiliation.  Roofs, roads, parks, and libraries are all non-partisan; and that is the approach that a town should take toward solving problems.

Our Town Board is working well together and that is why Tom Garrity, Mary Beth (Murphy), and I are running as a team because we understand what are the fruits of teamwork and cooperation: the budget in 2011 is $200,000 less than it was in 2009, yet town services have remained virtually untouched.  We have begun a long-term capital improvement plan, we have brought in over $500,000 in grants to save energy, we have brought in more senior housing that will not bring in more students to the schools, we have improved the highways, and all the while we have reduced payroll.  That's a pretty good record, though of course the work is never finished and constant improvement is always the goal.  What I am most proud of is the positive and respectful atmosphere that we have created on the town board that has led to all of those accomplishments.

Of course, things will get tougher in the future.  A struggling economy results in diminished tax revenues, and continuing to make forward progress with fewer resources will require a team with the experience, judgment, and temperament to get the job done.  You also need to understand your community and I would say that Mary Beth, Tom, and I know Somers very well because of our long histories and deep connections.  There are three key elements to accomplishing more with less.  First, is looking to do more with what you have.  Saving money on energy consumption means that there is more money for programs that benefit people in Somers.  Combining services with other towns or with the school district, streamlining our business practices, and combining town departments where appropriate are all possibilities in the future.  Second, while we have brought in more than a half million dollars in grants, this is only the beginning.  State, federal, and private grants for specific projects are still available and we will aggressively pursue them.  Third, in tough times careful long-term budgeting is more important than ever.  Having  a plan will allow us to spread costs and projects over time so that they get accomplished on a priority basis.  This is part of what we have been discussing recently with our capital assessment RFP.

What would I like to see?  Ideally, more stores in the town center shopping center and a return to a robust housing market.  The best way to get this done is to continue to make Somers a great place to live because of open spaces, well kept facilities, low taxes, and a town government that knows how to solve problems and get the job done.

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