Shakeup in Nunda creates contested races

CRYSTAL LAKE – A shakeup within Nunda Township government has sparked three contested races next month.

Longtime Nunda Township Supervisor John Heisler resigned effective Jan. 3. His third term would have expired in April.

In his resignation letter, Heisler cited “recent events and family responsibilities” as the reasons for leaving the post. He was unavailable for comment for this article.

Trustee Jim Schlader was appointed to fill the supervisor position until the consolidated election in April. Mike Shorten has filled Schlader’s seat.

Schlader, who served for 12 years as a trustee, will not seek re-election as supervisor. But three people are vying for the spot in February’s primary.

Kelvin “Lee” Jennings, Kerry Leigh, and Township Clerk Bridgett Provenzano are running for the supervisor post in the primary. The winner of that election will face the township’s office administrator Leda Drain in a general election in April. Drain is running as an independent candidate.

The township and its highway department have been tangled in a lawsuit over the funds for the road department’s maintenance garage.

The highway department, led by Commissioner Don Kopsell, sued the township, questioning where interest income off debt certificates issued in 2005 went. Township officials say that now that Heisler resigned, the lawsuit can be settled out of court.

“Both parties have come to an agreement, and we’ve stopped any litigation,” Schlader said. “... We’re going to work together to get that resolved. We don’t have to do that through the court system; we can do that between ourselves.”

In a counter-complaint, Heisler said the highway department’s lawsuit was merely political posturing.

The complaint was being used “as a means to obtain their ulterior motive” and is “nothing more than an attempt to get the Supervisor to resign,” he alleged in court documents.

“Absolutely not [true],” Kopsell said. “That would really be a waste of dollars, wouldn’t it?”

The township and road district in 2005 entered into an intergovernmental agreement that allowed Nunda Township to secure financing, and the highway department agreed to pay the interest and principal on the $1 million loan, according to court documents.

The loan sat in the bank for several months, earning $48,445 in interest income. But the township initially didn’t report the interest income, the complaint states. The income was discovered during a forensic audit, township officials said.

Court documents say Heisler admitted in the May 3, 2012, letter that the interest income was transferred to the township town fund and used to pay administration costs, specifically the salaries of the supervisor, road commissioner, and a bookkeeper.

Costs for the maintenance garage exceeded $1 million, and the highway district paid about $75,000 from its general fund to finish the building. The road district argued that the $48,000 could have gone toward the cost.

The recent changes also brought on other contested races.

Two people – Rob Parrish and Mike Lesperance – are running against Kopsell for Nunda Township highway commissioner.

Susan Jennings and Angela P. Koscavage are seeking the township clerk seat.

Nunda Township contested races

Township supervisor

• Kelvin “Lee” Jennings
• Kerry Leigh
• Bridgett Provenzano

Township highway commissioner

Donald C. Kopsell (incumbent)
Mike “Iron Mike” Lesperance
Robert “Rob” Parrish

Township clerk

Susan Jennings
Angela P. Koscavage

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