TOWN OF GENEVA — Two veterans of local politics are back on the campaign trail in a race for town chairman to be decided by voters April 2.
Incumbent Joe Kopecky is seeking re-election to his eighth term in a contest with a familiar opponent — former town supervisor Gene Decker.
Only one name, however, will appear on the ballot.
Decker is waging a write-in campaign — which he tried unsuccessfully against Kopecky four years ago — that will require voters to inscribe his name on the ballot manually.
Decker acknowledges that a write-in campaign is a long-shot at best.
“I won’t win,” he said in a Facebook message, “but if I get enough votes, maybe our chairman will actually tackle some problems rather than continue to kick them down the road.”
Kopecky said the town government is functioning well in managing local government, overseen by a five-member town board that he said provides good representation from throughout the community.
“We’ve got a very responsible group of people on there,” he said.
The race for town chairman will be decided by voters in the April 2 municipal elections, which also include two contested races for town board. Incumbent Jeff Monroe is facing challenger Laura Woolard in one race, and candidates Kathleen Scanlan and Kurt Hintz are vying in the other.
All winners will serve two-year terms, with town supervisors earning $5,500 a year and the chairman earning $9,000 a year.
Kopecky was first elected town chairman in 1998 and served until 2006, then was elected again starting in 2011 and continuing until now.
Decker, a longtime figure in the community, served as a town board member when he ran against Kopecky for chairman as a write-in in 2015. He tried again in 2017 as a declared candidate, but again lost to Kopecky.
After losing the second time, Decker resigned his town supervisor seat and announced he was retiring from politics.
In his Facebook message, Decker said he decided to launch another write-in effort this year “to allow some very angry voters the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction” toward the town’s current leadership.
He declined to comment, but pointed to a Facebook group where he has posted messages recently taking Kopecky to task with various complaints. He has accused Kopecky of borrowing money needlessly and also blamed the chairman for increased water rates.
“It’s your money, it’s your decision. Vote,” Decker wrote on Facebook.
Kopecky said town leaders have been moving to address water service issues that developed during the 2006-2011 period when he was out of office.
Water leaks have been discovered in the town’s infrastructure, but previous management was slow to increase rates to pay for repairs. So the sanitary district has borrowed $1 million on the bond market to fix the water system, and rate increases have been imposed to pay off the bonds.
The town board appoints the sanitary district’s board members.
Kopecky said he has confidence that the current management has acted responsibly to maintain the water system and to pay the town’s costs.
“These people know what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re trying to do a decent job of it.”