Primary 2019: A zoo owner is trying to unseat the highest-ranking man in Madison County

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TOWN OF SULLIVAN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – When primary voters go to the polls Tuesday, all of Madison County will be paying attention to the town supervisor’s race in the Town of Sullivan.

John Becker’s job as the Chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors is contingent upon his election as the Town of Sullivan supervisor.

Because of Madison County’s unique style of government, each town supervisor makes up the Board of Supervisors, which then elected Becker as its chairman who acts similarly to a county executive.

Becker says he’s primarily proud of three accomplishments:

  1. The team he’s built in the Town of Sullivan and Madison County
  2. The deal between Madison County and the Oneida Indian Nation
  3. The renovations of the historic Madison County Courthouse unveiled earlier this summer

Becker says, “I think consistency, a steady ship, steady as she goes — is best for everybody.”

For the first time in his 14 years on the job, Becker is being challenged in the Republican primary.

Becker’s opponent is Jeff Taylor, the owner of The Wild Animal Park.

The two men are familiar with each other in their current roles, butting heads over town codes and zoning as Taylor tries to expand his unique zoo business featuring exotic animals.

Taylor says, “I’m trying to grow my business, but when the local government fails to work with you on certain things, it’s difficult. When you have a business that brings this many people in, you’d want to work with them. It doesn’t just benefit me. It benefits the ice cream stand, all the restaurants around. “

If elected, Taylor wants to focus on creating what he calls a “fair” codes office that puts helping people over collecting fines.

Becker says the process has helped open his eyes to some improvements that can be made if he’s elected again. He will prioritize funding a sewer system for 600 people living on Oneida Lake and running water pipes up Salt Springs Road.

Real issues have sometimes gotten overshadowed by nastiness that has penetrated the race. Supporters of both candidates have taken their opinions to social media.

There are five polling locations in the Town of Sullivan. Polls are open from Noon to 9pm.

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