A board election will take place on March 18 for the Village of Geneseo during a time that complicates the voting process for students. New York State schedules all village elections during the spring, and Geneseo’s village election always lands within the spring break of students who attend the college. This can be problematic for students, as their relationship with the village is much more immediate than the town or county, which have elections in November.
The Village Board of Trustees consists of five positions: the mayor, the deputy mayor (who is appointed after the election) and three member trustees. The mayor and two trustees are up for re-election, with one of the trustees currently acting as deputy mayor. A village justice of the Village Justice Department is also up for re-election.
The village board is responsible for dealing with many issues that affect the community, of which students make up a sizable portion. While the overarching duty of the board is the administration of the town, it is more specifically responsible for the village police force, the operation of the justice system, village infrastructure and the supervision of the village planning board and zoning regulations.
Chairperson of the Village of Geneseo Democratic Committee Susan Bailey, who has worked on numerous local campaigns, said that cooperation is also a major concern for the village board.
“One of the things that the board is looking at, although I’m not sure about immediate impact on students, is cooperation among the various units of government, the village, the town, the county and the college to try to share services,” she said.
Bailey affirmed that most important of those shared services are the police forces of the village and college to ensure the safety of students and the community.
“Cooperation between the [college and village] police departments is of the most immediate importance and the board really values that relationship,” Bailey said.
While it doesn’t currently face a major controversial issue, the board does substantial work pertaining to off-campus housing, a “perennial issue” to students, Bailey said.
“And that’s something that the board deals with a great deal. Zoning regulations that deal with how many people can live in an off-campus residence, parking – those kind of things,” she said.
She said the situation of off-campus housing is a delicate one for the board, as it wishes to maintain good relations with the college and students. On the other hand, the board also receives pressure from landlords on issues pertaining to zoning. This dynamic can make it difficult to pursue changes to zoning for both students and landlords.
The board also does substantial infrastructure and façade work on Main Street and the surrounding streets. Recently, the village completed work on the Wadsworth Street sewer system, which was in need of a revamp, according to Bailey. The board is also in the process of repairing sidewalks in the village.
The village election affects students in more ways than many think, and yet the timeframe of the election seems to make it more difficult for students to participate.
With midterms in the week leading up to the election and spring break overlapping the election, students who want to exercise their right to vote need to be proactive. The process is easier than it sounds, however.
Students who are registered can visit the Board of Elections, located at 6 Court St., and fill out an absentee ballot any time before March 17. Students who are not registered must do so before March 7 and can obtain a registration form from the Office of the Dean of Leadership and Service, located in room 353 in the College Union, or at the Board of Elections.
While a two to three day processing time is necessary, students can then cast their absentee ballot afterward so long as it is before the deadline.