OLEAN – The two candidates vying to be Olean’s next mayor will square off against one another midway through next month.
On Oct. 16, incumbent Mayor Linda Witte is scheduled to debate challenger Bill Aiello from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Olean High School auditorium. The debate was called for by the mayor and is being organized by the Times Herald. It will be moderated by Patrick Vecchio, a St. Bonaventure University journalism professor and former Times Herald managing editor.
Both mayoral candidates said they are eager for the debate, which they hope will be informative and productive.
“I’m excited because think this will really give the public a chance to see what each of our goals are and what we’ve each accomplished,” Mayor Witte said. “I’m sure it will be a very good evening and I hope people walk away with good information.”
“I’m looking forward to the debate,” Mr. Aiello echoed. “It’ll be a good thing and I hope the people come out to hear us and where we stand on things.”
Mayor Witte has served one term as the city’s executive. She has previously served on the city’s Common Council from 2000 to 2002, was elected to the County Legislature in November 2003 and was re-elected in 2007. She served as Cattaraugus County Legislature minority leader for two years in 2007 and 2008. In November’s election, she has the endorsement Democrat and Conservative parties.
Mr. Aiello, a lifelong resident of Olean and former city police officer, currently serves as a representative from Olean in the Cattaraugus County Legislature, where his is its majority leader and chair of its Labor Relations Committee. He was elected to the legislature in 2007. He currently works as the executive director of the New York State Police Juvenile Officers Association, a position he’s held since 2004. Mr. Aiello is running on the Republican and Independence party lines in this year’s election.
The upcoming debate will be the first between Mayor Witte and Mr. Aiello.
The pair of candidates did, however, almost face each other in the city’s 2009 mayoral elections. Mr. Aiello’s run for the post was cut short, as he lost to then incumbent Mayor David Carucci in the Republican Party primary held in September of that year. Because Mr. Aiello did not have the endorsement of any other local political party, he was out of the race. Mayor Witte defeated Mr. Caurrci 1,921 to 1,726 in the November 2009 election.
(Contact reporter Christopher Michel at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, OTHChris.)