Three weeks ago, Geneseo professor Wes Kennison announced his write-in campaign for the office of Geneseo town supervisor, officially making him the independent opposition of the previously uncontested republican incumbent, William Wadsworth.
Kennison, Geneseo alumnus and current faculty fellow for International Programs, has been a resident of the Geneseo community since the beginning of his undergraduate studies in 1975 and has worked with the college for 25 years.
Kennison served two elected terms as Geneseo town supervisor from 2000 to 2007, when he was defeated in a highly contested race by Wadsworth.
Wadsworth is a direct descendant of some of Geneseo's most politically active citizens, including the town's first supervisor.
Despite the fact that his term has been wrought with controversy stemming from the severe economic difficulties affecting the whole of New York State since 2008, no opposing candidate had stepped up to challenge Wadsworth for office until Kennison announced his write-in campaign.
"I wasn't even considering running this year," Kennison said. "But when the caucuses produced this result and when the record of the incumbent is what it is, I didn't think he deserved a free pass. I thought the people deserved a choice."
Kennison said he feels that, by producing an uncontested race, the caucus system has completely failed Geneseo.
As a write-in candidate, Kennison's name will not appear on the official ballot, but voters can vote for him by writing his name in at the bottom of their voting card.
Kennison said he believes that by positioning himself as Wadsworth's opposition he is giving the Geneseo community a reason to show up to vote next Tuesday Nov. 8.
"The current supervisor and I have very different approaches to the job," Kennison said. "He feels it's about being somebody and I feel it's about doing something."
In an article from the Livingston County News, Wadsworth commented on a variety of the issues facing the newly opposed race, including the economic crisis in Livingston County and Geneseo itself.
While Wadsworth has not directly addressed Kennison's presence in the election, he wrote in an article in the Livingston County News on Nov. 2, "If re-elected next Tuesday I promise that I will continue to listen diligently, to advance the work we have begun, to consider the needs of all the constituencies — republican and democrat and unaffiliated — and to collaborate with you for decisions that will benefit our community."
If elected town supervisor, Kennison said he plans to expand opportunities for internships and service learning in the community for college students in order to promote economic development, historical preservation and environmental awareness.
Likewise, Kennison would plan to employ his international experience to further integrate Geneseo into the global economy.
"We can win in the global economy, but we have to get off the couch. The days of laying low are gone," Kennison said. "The supervisor needs to be proactive in standing up for the community."
"This election is really a matter of believing in democracy," Kennison continued. "There is no problem that we have that cannot be solved in the voting booth."