One week until Village of Ilion residents select mayor

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - In one week, voters in the Village of Ilion will decide who will lead them: A former village trustee, deputy mayor and current interim mayor or  a longtime former Remington Arms worker and nonprofit leader.

Earlier this year, the village board appointed current incumbent, Republican Beth Neale, to fill the vacancy created when Mayor John Stephens left to become a Herkimer County legislator.   With a week to go before the election, Neale says she feels pretty good, with one plaguing exception.

"I'm fine, except for a lot of the misinformation and lies that have been told," says Neale. 

"I met with Beth as soon as I received the nomination that I would not get down and dirty....that's how I work. I'm not a down-and-dirty person," says her opponent, Democrat Terry Leonard.

Neale says the misinformation is from a disappointing source.

"It's from former officials. For some reason, they don't have use for me and that's fine," Neale said. "I am the person that I am. I'm not going to change that. People do respect the fact that I do tell them the truth."

A sign on the door of the village offices tells those who enter just that.

"Do you want the Truth?  Do you feel Lied To? Or Lost and Confused and Not Knowing What to Believe???  There is a solution!!!  Call Mayor Neale YOURSELF, DIRECTLY..."

Is the note the equivalent of a campaign sign at the village offices?

"Well, there's been a number of signs in the municipal office lately," says Leonard.

Neale says, not at all.

"I'm simply doing that so people know that I am here every day. I am willing to listen to what the people are wanting to know," says Neale.

Neale says she is busying herself with the business of running village government, with attention to its special needs -- something she isn't sure her opponent is qualified to do.

"Their slogan is 'Getting Back to Basics' but you need to learn the basics first, then you go on," she said. "But unfortunately, if you don't know the basics and you don't know the operations, what you're doing is basically making speculations irresponsibly, because you don't know what's already going on," says  Neale.

Opponent Terry Leonard says his 22 years at Catholic Charities -- the past 12 spent at the helm, make him well-qualified to lead the village.

"My qualifications for this position have been questioned by the mayor, but I see it very similar, running a not-for-profit using government dollars is very, very similar to what I do and what the mayor's position would do," says Leonard.

The Ilion Mayoral race is next Tuesday.


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