Warrensburg’s political battle for two town board seats came to an end Tuesday, Nov. 8 as citizens elected newcomers Joyce Reed and Linda Baker Marcella over incumbents Dean Ackley and Austin Markey.
Political newcomers Linda Baker Marcella and Joyce Reed trounced longtime incumbents Austin Markey and Dean Ackley for four-year terms on the Warrensburg Town Board during the Nov. 8 election. The challengers out-tallied Markey and Ackley in the September G.O.P. primaries, and in the latest election, the margin was widened — a commanding 2-1 tilt of votes cast. Marcella received 527 votes and Reed garnered 521, while Markey had 261, and Ackley, 254. Absentee votes have yet to be counted.
Early Wednesday, Joyce Reed offered her thoughts on the election results and her victory alongside Marcella.
“People in town got involved and informed, understood the issues, and voted accordingly,” she said.
Reed and Marcella had challenged Ackley and Markey recently on the incumbents’ support of free health insurance for life for town board members.
Just two weeks ago, Ackley and Markey cast a minority “No” vote on a town budget that called for town board members to contribute 20 percent toward their health insurance premiums. The spending plan featured a zero tax increase. Reed said that voters paid attention to these actions.
“Citizens understand that these health care costs are an increasing burden on local taxpayers,” she added. “I love seeing that local citizens have gotten involved lately in the issues that affect the town.”
She said that she and Marcella will be seeking to repeal the lifetime health insurance for board members — the benefit that some have estimated will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in the coming years.
Reed also said she was seeking progress in converting to billing the town’s water customers by volume of water used, rather than by arbitrary set fees now charged.
For nearly two decades, water meters have been installed in Warrensburg, but the billing system hasn’t been enacted. Some observers say it has been because some prominent citizens using high volumes of water didn’t want to pay more, so they obstructed the change.
For years, Ackley and Markey have been stalling on efforts to meter town water, while voicing support for developing a new well, an idea that Reed cites as expensive.
Reed noted that if the water were metered, however, the taxpayers would save substantial sum of money through conservation. Municipal water studies indicate that when citizens have to pay for the volume of water they use, overall consumption is reduced 10 to 20 percent.
Reed also said that billing of water should be conducted on usage, to assure an equitable sharing of costs.
Contacted General Election night, Marcella said she was surprised by the width of the 2-1 vote margin.
“People decided they didn’t want any more of the ‘same-old, same-old,’” she said.
Marcella also said that discord on the town board had impeded progress. Political observers have seen Markey and Ackley often have teamed up on one side of an issue, while Supervisor Kevin Geraghty and Deputy Supervisor John Alexander are lined up on the other side.
“The town needs board members working as a team,” she said. “I think citizens are now excited about how we can move forward.”
Reed agreed with Marcella’s assessment.
“Local residents are ready for a new perspective,” she said.