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Massena Dems nominate three for town council seats, Gray to run unopposed

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MASSENA - While the results won’t be official until November, with no contested races on the ballot the future appearance of Massena’s Town Board was pretty much decided Monday night.

Appearing on the Democratic party line and seeking seats on the town board will be Albert N. Nicola, who will be seeking his seventh term on the town board; Thomas C. Miller, who was appointed to the board two months ago, and will be seeking his first full term; and Samuel D. Carbone Jr., who will be seeking his first term on the board.

The Democrats nominated no one to challenge Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who is seeking his second term.

With 92 registered Democrats in attendance, the crowd on Monday was the largest Mr. Nicola said he has ever seen at such an event. “This is the largest turnout I have ever seen at a caucus,” he said.

There had been speculation opponents of the on-going discussion about privatizing Massena Memorial Hospital might attend the caucus in an effort to fill the Democratic line with candidates supportive of their position. That did not happen.

The first man to be nominated Mr. Miller, who will be seeking the remaining two years of the term that had originally been held by Robert Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham resigned this spring to accept a job with the Massena Electric Department.

Mr. Miller, who also serves as chief in the Massena Volunteer Fire Department, was nominated for the position by Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier. Mr. Miller’s son, Joshua, seconded the nomination.

“Tom is a well respected member of our community,” Mr. Currier said. “He has served his community in various capacities over the years as youth sports coach, a volunteer fireman, and currently as fire chief here in Massena. Tom has more than 25 years of service as a correction officer for New York state.”

Mr. Currier, who said he has known Mr. Miller for nearly 40 years, said the same traits that make him a good friend and valued member of the community will make him a good town councilman.

“As a person, Tom is loyal, passionate, devoted and caring. In every endeavor I have seen him involved in, he has always taken it seriously, worked hard to do a good job and always made a difference by doing what was right. His judgement is sound and his principals are unwavering,” he said. “As a member of the Massena Town Council, he will work diligently to represent all of our citizens, to ensure their voices are heard and when he makes a decision it will be in the best interest of Massena.”

Mr. Miller said he realizes Massena is currently facing some challenges, but he’s looking forward to working to help make Massena a better place.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I look forward to working for Massena.”

Mr. Nicola was nominated by former Mayor Charlie Boots, who spoke of Mr. Nicola’s resumé.

“He’s a lifelong resident of Massena, a graduate of Massena High School and the Pennsylvania Military College,” Mr. Boots said, adding he also holds a Master’s Degree from SUNY Potsdam.

After serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army for three years, Mr. Nicola returned home to Massena to begin a lengthy career as both a teacher and a coach, even coaching football for six years after his retirement from teaching in 2001.

Mr. Boots also noted that Mr. Nicola is a member of the American Legion, Massena Country Club and Italian American Civic Association.

“He’s been a longtime advocate for the betterment of Massena,” Mr. Boots said. His nomination was seconded by Ed Murphy.

Mr. Nicola said the last six years have been the most challenging year’s he’s faced as a member of either board, noting that the closure of General Motors brought with it a $12 million reduction in assessment. And since that time many other businesses, Johnson Newspapers included, have sought assessment reductions.

He also noted that all of Massena’s problems aren’t behind them yet.

“We still face problems,” he said. “One of the biggest problems right now is what to do with the hospital.”

Over his nearly 30 years of service as a member of the community’s leadership team, Mr. Nicola said he has learned a few valuable lessons including how to listen and how to build a consensus.

“No email goes unread, no phone call goes unanswered and no question goes unanswered,” he said. “They might not always like the answer they get, but I think you should show them the respect.”

As for consensus building, Mr. Nicola said it’s important to treat people with respect and “find a way to make them a part of the solution.”

“We’ll solve these problems and we’ll go on and be a better Massena for it,” he said.

The final nomination of the evening came from Jodi Burke, who nominated Mr. Carbone for the seat currently held by Charles A. “Chuck” Raiti.

Mr. Raiti addressed the caucus, noting his wife is planning to retire this year, meaning that some travel could be in their plans.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the community for the past 16 years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a good ride.”

Mr. Raiti also left the door open for the possibility of a return to Massena’s political scene at some point in the future. “I’m not done, I’m just backing off,” he said.

In her nomination, Ms. Burke, who serves on Massena’s Democratic Committee, went through Mr. Carbone’s resumé, noting he graduated from Massena High School and enlisted in the Army Reserves, where he served for five years.

“In 1989 Sam was hired by the New York State Department of Corrections as a corrections officer. After six months as a C.O. he was hired by the New York Power Authority as a security guard. From there he went into the mechanical maintenance apprenticeship and has currently been with NYPA for the past 24 years,” she said. “For the past 10 years, he has been a licensed real estate agent for Post Realty and has owned numerous rental properties.”

She also noted that Mr. Carbone is a member of IBEW 2032 and has served as recording secretary and financial secretary. He has also been a member of the Central Trades Labor Council for almost 20 years.

Mr. Burke said when she first approached Mr. Carbone about nominating him at the caucus, she was told that he had actually been considering a run for office for the past 10 years.

“He was ecstatic about contributing his time to the board,” she said.

Mr. Carbone said he knows there are a lot of problems facing Massena, but he’s looking forward to being a part of the solution. “I appreciate your support and I’m glad to be here,” he said.

Massena’s Democrats held their caucus two weeks after the town’s Republicans who nominated Mr. Gray for his second term as supervisor. While the Democrats nominated no one for that post, the Republicans did not nominate anyone for any of the three available trustee positions.

Village Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies did nominate Mr. Boots for the supervisor’s position, but Mr. Boots declined the nomination.


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