GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - The voters have spoken. Grand Island will not shrink its town board. It's the first town board defeat for downsizing advocate Kevin Gaughan.
This was a very close and very passionate vote for those on Grand Island, and in the end, those against downsizing got their wish by 350 votes.
While voters placed their ballots inside the fire hall, Mark Webb stood outside with his vote in plain sight.
"It's much harder to corrupt four men in a room than two. There's more representation. These council members bring us millions in federal grants," argued Webb.
From 6 a.m. Thursday until 9 p.m. that night, Grand Island residents of all ages made the time to vote on a controversial proposal - whether to downsize the town board from four members to two. It would leave just two council members and the town supervisor.
Susan Rowles commented, "It's only going to save taxpayers $10 per $100,000 assessment. And you want two people making all your decisions? That's why I voted no."
Five other towns have already approved the measure. You could say Kevin Gaughan, the activist behind the move, and Webb were competing for votes. Both greeted voters in the parking lot in an effort to persuade them one way or the other.
Webb said, "He's divided the community against itself. We're a very strong community. We're a proud community. We love this town."
By 9:20 Thursday night, Gaughan found out he would not be adding Grand Island to his list of victories. The proposal was shot down: 2155 to 1805.
Grand Island Supervisor Peter McMahon said, "I'm very pleased that we won. As you know, we were opposed to the proposition and we worked hard. And I think, frankly, Kevin and his committee worked pretty hard to."
"To have played a small role in giving voice to all Grand Island residents is a source of pride," said Gaughan.
We did hear from about as many "yes" voters as we did "no" voters. However, the "yes" voters didn't want to go on camera for fear of letting people know how they voted.
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