Superintendent Wayne Ballard is running against Fleet Manager Dennis Malone in
the Tuesday, Nov. 5th General Election. Ballard is running on the
Republican, Working Families, Independence and Conservative lines. Malone has
the Democratic and Preserve Rockland-Clarkstown lines.
questionnaires to each candidate, who provided the following responses.
1. Why did you decide to run for election?
I have been the
Clarkstown Superintendent of Highways for 16 years, running for re-election
every two years. With my experience, engineering degree and managerial skills,
our department is better prepared to respond and recover after hurricanes,
flooding rains and hazardous snow and ice events. I continue to improve
day-to-day services while overseeing capital projects that ultimately improve
the infrastructure of our roads, streams and drainage, which the residents
appreciate and is seen at the polls by voter support across party lines.
I want to continue the opportunity given me by the voters, to work with the employees and other gov't agencies to give to, enhance and protect my community as I have done over the years.
I am very concerned about the cost of the past operations of the Highway Department under Mr. Ballard. He has given work to an ex-employee of the Town who has set up his own business and past charges by this contractor appear to be inflated. I am also very concerned about the use of the Highway Department to employ political appointees in need of an income.
A particularly bad example of this was the appointment of County Legislator, Frank Sparaco. I am very concerned about the morale of the excellent staff of the Highway Department employees who feel that they are required to conduct political activities as part of their job expectations. Recently several of them were required to spend personal time collecting absentee ballots on his behalf and had to appear in court testifying to those activities.
My first and foremost strength is my ability to work with people and bring out the best of their strengths. As a person who has served in all levels of ranks from the changing of an oil filter to the management of the largest repair and service business on the U.S. East Coast, I have learned to anticipate staff needs on a daily basis. I intend to work with all of my reports from the shop floor to the management floor and my door and my ear will always be receptive to suggestions for the improvement in the operation of the Highways Department regardless of whom or from where suggestions may come.
I was fortunate to have learned from practical experience both the applied and the financial aspects of running a fleet operation such as the 400 vehicles that are utilized by the Town of Clarkstown. In my career several people gave me opportunities to learn and grow in my particular field. That is the philosophy that I will bring to working with the fine men and women of the Clarkstown Highway Department. They deserve the best.
2. What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve
as highway superintendent? Have you run or held elected office previously?
I am the incumbent
Clarkstown Highway Superintendent running for re-election. I am a professional
engineer and a certified safety professional.
Prior to taking office in 1998, my experience was working with engineering,
architectural and environmental construction companies as well as Fortune 500
I have years of proven leadership in successfully handling very challenging storms declared by FEMA as natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the Presidents’ Day snowstorm (2 feet of snow) and the floods from Tropical Storm Floyd. As a result of my administrative skills, I was able to recover our town rapidly to everyday normalcy, but also obtained millions of dollars to help our town recover financially. My prior engineering design and construction management skills are utilized in planning and overseeing all types of projects such as malls, drainage projects, road building and restoration, environmental and transportation projects.
With my experience as a certified safety professional, I have written safety plans such as hazardous communication, emergency spill response and worker safety plans. My managerial skills were tested when my department was reduced by more than 25 people (the most in the Town of Clarkstown). Although this resulted in tremendous savings yearly, I was also able to increase our services in spite of the loss of personnel. I initiated computer programs with accurate online data and information listing our services for the residents and their landscapers as well as information and record tracking systems to better serve our residents and support our employee day-to-day tasks.
I have lived in Clarkstown for 35 years and been married for 38 years. My three daughters were educated in the Clarkstown School System. I went to work in a local gas station at age 15 and from there was recruited to become a partner in Kingsdale Service Station, the largest Exxon on the East Coast. I added to my practical experience in building up Kingsdale by taking a management job in a Nissan dealership where the financial aspects of running a large operation were learned.
Wishing to spend more time with a growing family and having become financially secure from investments in those businesses, I decided to enter government service by taking a position in the Town of Clarkstown’s mini-trans department sixteen years ago. From that position I progressed to my present position as Fleet Manager for the Police, Highway Department, and Mini-trans garages overseeing a fleet of 400 vehicles. In my numerous years of experience I have worked with every department in the Town of Clarkstown and this experience and my ability to operate businesses in a cost effective manner led the Town Board to ask me to accept my present appointment. I have not held elected office previously.
3. What are the top three issues facing town residents?
1.) Lowering taxes and no loss in existing services. This is what is echoed throughout our town and poses the greatest challenge to the existing and new leaders of our community.
2.) Obtain grant money and funds whenever possible to ease the economic burden on our community.
3.) The safety and comfort of our residents before, during and after major storms with an expeditious recovery.
The three top issues
from the perspective of the Highway Department are:
1.) Overcharging of the Town for parts and services by outside contractors, which leads to higher, taxes for citizens of Clarkstown.
2.) Use of the Highway Department to give part-time patronage job to political appointees. One particularly egregious example is the part-time job given to County Legislator Frank Sparaco for $75,000.
3.) Using Highway department employees to conduct political work for their boss in the Highway department leading to the widespread belief that without political activities employees will not be promoted even when merited.
4. What are your plans for addressing these issues?
1.) With regards to lower taxes and no loss of existing services, I will continue to explore similar accomplishments, within the town and other towns of similar size; within the Highway and with other departments. At the Highway Department we successfully reduced the staff without loss of service. We undertook drainage projects that had normally been outsourced. Additionally, we eliminated outside contractors that plowed roads and transported green waste.
We changed the way we collect leaves and the type of equipment we use to do it more efficiently. We maintain the state and county commuter lots and get reimbursed for that service. I supported the consolidation of the Town garages, which could be a benefit to our town if done in a different management structure. There have also been shared services between Highway and the Parks Department.
2.) Obtaining grant money and funds whenever possible to ease the economic burden on our community. This has been successful at the Highway Department through grants to install much need traffic control devices, equipment needs and labor assistance in maintaining our town. Another clear example at the Highway Department is in the obtaining of large sums of money from FEMA when nationally-declared storms ravage our town.
With the record keeping maintained at the Highway Department, labor cost, equipment usage, materials used to rebuild, debris disposal, fuel usage and outside use of contractors are all recoverable costs. If not properly documented and applied for, would result in a tremendous financial loss to all of us. If this federal money is not applied for, it will go to other communities in our nation, so why lose it. This all would not be possible without the hard team work of the women and men of Clarkstown Highway Department and I thank them for that.
3.) The safety and comfort of our residents are essential before, during and after major storms with an expeditious recovery. These recent patterns of storms as a result of global warming has left our residents without some or at times all of the basic needs - that being electricity, heat, water, proper sewage and the ability to get about within our town whether it be a snow storm or a hurricane. We always look for better methods, training and types of equipment purchases to insure the very best service in planning for, assistance during and recovery from these storms within and with other departments and outside agencies.
For example, Highway’s upper management is certified in disaster management planning and response. We interact with the Police Department, utility companies and the public with real time reporting data of closed roads, why they are closed and what is needed to open them up in both equipment needs and mutual assistance from others. Additionally, through the type of equipment purchases such as a modern tree bucket truck giving our crews more capabilities and as with our snow fighting equipment, we can rapidly pretreat our roads before a storm on our critical roads making it much safer for all our emergency services.
I have five plans to
address these issues.
1.) Audit: In the past 5 years Mr. Ballard spent on average $550,000 per year on vehicle parts and servicing. In my first year as Fleet Manager I have spent less than $250,000 by requiring vendors to compete. This result necessitates that an audit be conducted of the past five years vendors’ charges to the Town especially those submitted by ex-town employees. I plan to conduct this audit.
2.) Morale and Work Ethic: Employees must know that the Highways Superintendent will be in the field and in the garages sharing their work and their problems. Never will an employee conduct election activities nor collect ballots for an election. Employees will be compensated and promoted solely on merit and the provision of cost effective professional services. I plan to address morale and work ethics issues.
3.) Highways Maintenance: I plan to implement a process whereby all roads will be resurfaced on a rotating schedule which will insure that over the lifetime of the program no area will receive preferential treatment. Recently, Mr. Ballard spent $1.6 million replacing Belgian Block in the Dells while other roads are with temporary patches. This must be stopped. All citizens will be treated equally regardless of where they live in Clarkstown and each taxpayer shall receive an equal amount of the Highways budget under my administration.
4.) Vehicle Maintenance: The most important cost in the operation of a highway department is to keep vehicles properly serviced at lowest cost. Simple procedures such as removal of winter salt from vehicles is an example of how taxpayers’ funds can be saved by keeping vehicles free of corrosion. 75% of vehicle problems were the result of salt corrosion. I will maintain the Town fleet with the proper maintenance procedures.
5.) Elimination of Positions: Reporting to the Highways Superintendent, Ballard, are two patronage positions. One position involving secretarial activities pays $110,000 per year and a second patronage position, occupied by Legislator Frank Sparaco, pays $75,000 per year working part time. I plan to eliminate both positions for an additional savings of $185,000 per year.
5. How do you differentiate yourself from your opponent’s platform?
My platform is very different from my opponent in that mine is that of experience, education and leadership skills, which has proven to be a benefit to the town. My platform is support with results, such as a more efficient department with less staff that provide more services. I ended the building of substandard roads and drainage systems and the town is a better place with roads and drainage systems that last the test of time. It took the establishment of my testing methods, writing of specifications, research, and knowledge of the building of roads and drainages systems to turn things around in Clarkstown.
Our response time with major storms has given great confidence to our residents in the methods that have been developed under my watch as I have heard over and over again how well this department performs through any type of storm. The innovation of this department’s brine system, recycled asphalt system, sponsored Adopt-A-Spot and all-volunteer Great American Cleanup Program, saving taxpayers’ money, is visited by other outside municipalities to see how we do it. This department has implemented computer systems that have proven to increase our response time in daily work requests by being able to retrieve plans, maps, documents, work requests, budgets and payroll information with ease.
When considering that my opponent’s very limited platform is solely addressing fleet maintenance and the elimination of administration staff, this reflects his lack of understanding of what it takes to be responsible for a $15 million budget with a staff of 73 employees, servicing 87,000 people in 26,000 homes, over 300 miles of roads, with 100 miles of streams, 150 culverts, 12,000 catch basins and hundreds of miles of drainage pipe.
I plan to stand with my employees and not above them. I intend to share in their concerns for professional growth and not require them to have concern for conducting political activities on their supervisor’s behalf. The town’s highway garage management was removed from Mr. Ballard’s control and placed under my control because of poor management of that facility. I intend to return the town’s combined garages to the same high level of competence of any top notch service facility in the United States.
6. If elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of
1.) Recover the much-needed fleet vehicle management system, not currently under my authority, so our Operations Department at Highway will know the status of repairs and return-to-service date for each vehicle, along with the ability to obtain a repair history; all of which we managed in the past and is currently unattainable.
2.) Put pressure on the County and the State to revitalize the sidewalks along their respective roads in Clarkstown to today’s standards as they have reached their useful life.
I would like to lower costs, eliminate patronage positions, raise the morale of the employees in the Highway Department and give them opportunities to grow in their careers through merit.
7. Incumbents: Do you have other employment or own a business in addition to your elected post? Challengers: What is your current employment and will that change if elected?
I have no other employment nor do I own an active business in addition to my elected post.
I presently serve as the Town of Clarkstown’s Fleet Manager. After election I will eliminate the Fleet Manager position and continue to manage that work through my elected position of Superintendent of Highways.