One of the incumbent candidates for Ontario County Board of Supervisors is also a first-time candidate. Lou Guard was appointed to the seat representing Wards 3 & 4 when Charlie Evangelista accepted a position on the Ontario County Board of Elections. Guard was the unanimous choice by the City of Geneva Council, but is now making his case to the voters to retain that seat.
“I was excited, I think, because I’ve always been interested in opportunities to serve in greater depth. City Council for me would have been tough given my role at HWS and given the many opportunities for conflicts there I would have been probably recusing myself more than participating. So, county business is a lot different and just offered that opportunity for me to be engaged, but not have those conflict issues.”
Being in the position for several months has provided Guard with insight into the role the supervisor plays. That may be of limited value when campaigning.
“It’s easy to me to speak to what the job requires, I think, and having done it for some period of time now and having gone through the orientation, gotten to know the staff at the county level, developed those working relationships already. I think that gives a pretty good advantage as long as people are listening. But, then in other aspects, of course, you have to introduce yourself as a new candidate because essentially that’s what I am, running for the first time, but just not doing the job for the first time.”
Guard has been getting out into the community. I joined him on a visit to a group of seniors. When he asks to hear their concerns, some of the issues raised are beyond the scope of a county official.
In a time when politicians at all levels are far from popular, Guard views every interaction as an opportunity to stress the value of public service.
“You’re part of the fabric of government no matter what level you’re at and you have a responsibility to your constituents and to the people who’ve elected you and support you to give them good answers.”
Off year elections draw some of the least participation among voters, especially in the absence of national races. A race for a county seat may well be decided by tens of votes. But, as he’s met the people in his district, Guard believes Ontario County voters are engaged this year.
“Because it’s local I’ve been surprised by the number of people who are interested. When you really dig down beneath the headline, it’s seems there are people who regularly vote period, regardless of the election and are particularly excited because it’s a local election. I’m not too concerned. I think that turnout will be a big deal and we have a lot of efforts underway to make sure that people turn out to vote. But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who actually know what’s going on, know that the election’s coming up and are fully planning on getting out and voting.”
The statewide general election is coming up Tuesday, November 7th.