CAIRO — Republican Town Councilman Jason Watts emerged victorious over Democratic candidate Ted Banta in a runaway race Tuesday to earn a two-year term as town supervisor.
Banta and Watts were running to replace departing Town Supervisor John Coyne.
Watts defeated Banta by a margin of 1,088-592, or 64.8% of the vote.
“I was very proud that the town thought that I was good enough to run it,” Watts said in the aftermath of his victory. “It was a very exciting moment. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people that came out to vote. It was a little shocking how many people came out to vote for me.”
The town supervisor-elect owns the Watts Oil Plumbing and Heating Co., and has also gained local fame for raising pigs on a hobby farm.
Watts said he was surprised to notch such a large margin of victory.
“Yes I was, but I’ve always done a lot for people in my town and I guess it shows,” he said. “I own a business that’s been growing for the last 10 years. Let’s hope I can do the same thing for the town.”
All election results are unofficial until certified by the Greene County Board of Elections.
Watts this year concluded a four-year term on the town council, an experience he believes will help him hit the ground running when he assumes the supervisor’s chair.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of what’s going on in the town,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I have a few things on my agenda, mainly the community center and the ambulance building. I’d also like to do something with the walking path around the town park.”
The town recently purchased a building that would house a new community center and ambulance hub at the same site, a project that Watts hopes to see to completion.
“It’s going to be finalized here soon and we just have to go ahead and finish it,” he said. “It’s one building and hopefully we’ll be able to put the ambulance in the back and the community center in the front.”
A personal experience from Watts’ time on the campaign trail has also made him a strong advocate for the Cairo Public Library, which he considers one of his top priorities.
“While I was campaigning, one of the biggest things I heard about was the library,” he said. “I didn’t realize how important it is to our community until I campaigned. So I sat at the library and I saw a teenager whose family I know. So I asked him why he came to the library to sit there and do work. He told me with how his family is, he can’t do his schoolwork at home in peace. So it’s a place for kids to get away, to have quiet and to do their schoolwork. I was a little taken aback by that.”
Watts said he wants to maintain funding for the library and to hopefully bolster it.
“I want to keep it going as it is, maybe we can help out with some grants for the library,” he explained. “Maybe we can get some money from the county for the library. I’m going to be a big supporter of the library.”
With a two-year term ahead of him, Watts said he hopes to work quickly to get things done in the town.
“I want to hit the ground running,” he said. “I want to focus on the town park. I want to make the town park more inviting for people to come to. People have been asking for little shelters for dogs in the park. Being here four years already has taught me a lot, plus I’m a business owner myself. If I can get the ambulance building and the park done in two years and keep everything else in the town running, that’s an ambitious goal. Because everything in government takes so long. We’re going to have to get grants, We’re going to have to apply for stuff. It’s a lot more than what people think. We don’t have an endless amount of money.”
Watts congratulated Banta on a civil race for the supervisor’s seat.
“It was a good clean race between me and the Democrats,” Watts said. “It was a nice race. I want to thank Ted Banta. He said if I had any questions about being supervisor I could call him and I might take him up on that offer one day.”
Watts said he wanted voters to know that he will be accessible around the clock while he’s serving the community.
“I want to say thank you so much and I won’t let you down,” he said. “I’ll work my butt off for you and I want residents to come to me with any suggestion or questions or anything. My personal cell phone number will be on the website and I answer my phone 24 hours a day. If I can do whatever I can do to help somebody I will. I’ll be there for each and every person no matter what party they’re from.”
In the four-way race for two seats on the town council, Republicans Michael Flaherty (1,117 votes) and Mary Jo Cords (1,096) won easy victories over Democrats Lewis O’Connor (495 votes) and Thomas Vasquez (471). Cords and Flaherty were the two top vote-getters.