Republican candidates for Geneseo Town Council Patti LaVigne, Ronald Maxwell and Andrea Bailey won in their elections against the three opposing Democratic candidates Wesley Ebersole, Leah Fletcher and Anthony Macula. LaVigne and Maxwell will serve on the council for four years, and Bailey will serve for two years.
Turnout among voters from the college decreased from the 2016 presidential election.
Ebersole, a Geneseo student majoring in political science, accepted his share of the blame for the defeat.
“Regarding the election process, you can always campaign more, always shake more hands, always smile more, meet more people, spend more hours, spend more dollars, fundraise more,” Ebersole said. “I will say I could’ve done better.”
President of Geneseo College Republicans junior Josh Espinosa was pleased with the results, emphasizing the implications surrounding Ebersole’s candidacy in the election.
“A lot of the Town voters were very unhappy when they had Village Trustee junior Mary Rutigliano and Village Trustee Mathew Cook ’17 running a few years back,” Espinosa said. “They did not want another student running the Town, running the Village of Geneseo, someone who is not actually a member of this community, which I can totally agree with actually. Even as a student here I don’t want students running the Town.”
The Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Ambassador senior Sarah Jane Phillips reiterated Espinosa’s point.
“Although students often feel connected to the community, Town members don’t necessarily see them as full members,” she said.
Ebersole echoed those sentiments, noting with dismay the role he had hoped to play in fostering positive relationships between the college and the Town. Ebersole was also disappointed by the lack of students who voted in Geneseo.
“Putting my loss aside, the vote just wasn’t there,” Ebersole said. “I think the Geneseo Task Force on Voter Engagement here on campus is doing a lot to get students registered, but I don’t think they’re doing quite as much to get students involved in local elections.”
Around 14 percent of voters registered on campus participated in the election, according to Phillips, who is a member of the Geneseo Task Force on Voter Engagement. Phillips believes that Ebersole’s candidacy may have played a role in that, in addition to the candidacy of professor of mathematics Anthony Macula.
Beyond the local candidates, multiple state-wide proposals were on the ballot. One of these measures called for a New York State constitutional convention, which was not passed in the state, with 88.59 percent of Livingston County voters rejecting it, according to Livingston County’s unofficial voting results and turnout page. Phillips believes the proposal may have been a potential factor influencing voter turnout.
Although voting decreased relative to last year’s presidential election, Phillips found reason to be optimistic.
“About 200 out of 1,400 students voted who registered to vote,” Phillips said. “It’s not great, but if we did this four years ago we could’ve gotten maybe 50, maybe 100 if we were lucky. I think the political climate is changing the way we become more civically engaged, so I think it’s on the upward trend, hopefully, at least.”
Republican candidates ran unopposed and won for six county and town position. John Gallagher will serve as the Justice of the Supreme Court for the 7th Judicial District, Thomas Dougherty as the Livingston County Sheriff, Amy Mann as the Livingston County Treasurer, Robert Walkman and Shannon Griese as the Livingston County Coroners and Kathleen Houston as the Geneseo Town Justice.
Phillips and Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Ambassador junior Patrick Buckley both commented that many students are uninformed or apathetic about local issues, often because they feel disconnected from the political scene.
“They don’t really know that zoning issues actually have a really big impact on the college, your apartments, where you’re living, taxes, things like that,” Buckley said. “People need to realize that it’s affecting their daily life even if it’s not very visible.”u