BATAVIA — Voters in Batavia will not have any contested races to decide on Tuesday, but there are two people running to keep the seats to which they were appointed within the last year — Councilperson-At-Large Rich Richmond and Ward 6 Councilmember Tammy Schmidt.
Richmond, running on the Republican and Conservative lines, has been in office for about eight months since his appointment Feb. 28. He replaced Jeremy Karas on the Council after Karas resigned due to time commitments. Richmond is running to serve the last three years of Karas’ term. Schmidt was appointed in December 2021 to replace Rose Mary Christian after Christian resigned because she was moving out of the ward. Schmidt is running on the same lines.
Richmond said he’s running for election because he is a lifelong city resident and loves the city’s history.
“You could learn from the mistakes of the past,” he said. “A lot of the historical buildings that were torn down and then not redone, they could have been repurposed. Plus, you have a connection to the people that are still here.”
The city is generally moving forward in a positive direction, Richmond said.
“We’re not stagnant. We’re working with the county. It’s an exciting time to be on Council, I’ve got to tell you,” he said.
As a councilperson-at-large, he said, people are comfortable approaching him.
“I see people on the streets. People come into the business that I work (Barrett’s Batavia Marine & Sporting Goods). They’ll ask me questions,” he said.
Richmond had been on the county Planning Board for a few years. He graduated from Batavia High School in 1973 and later from Genesee Community College with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He retired from the New York State Department of Corrections a few years ago after serving as a correction officer for almost 40 years. In the past, he was a member of the Batavia Jaycees.
Regarding the environment, at 301 Bank St. there had been a scrap metal dump site. There’s been work done on that, with federal money coming in, Richmond said.
“There’s still some things to be done, of course. You’ve got to remove contaminants from the soil. I think we, as City Council, need to be on top of that, push the government along (to say), ‘Can we help you out?’ to clean that up,” he said. “That’s a beautiful section of the city where you could have parks.”
Richmond said that site was MacArthur Park a long time ago. It was the site of a swimming pool, which longtime residents still remember as “The new pool,” he said.
“If I were to say to any of my constituents, ‘Do you remember the new pool?’ They remember fondly the new pool at MacArthur Park,” he said. “That’s my connection. That’s why people I know are comfortable with me. They know I lived here all my life. I have an interest in the city, doing what’s best for everyone.”
The candidate said the city has well-trained police and fire departments, but added a fully-staffed police department is a priority.
“We could use a few more police officers,” he said. “I’d like to see some minority officers, but unfortunately, nobody’s been taking the test or even applying for the job. We have some very good women officers on the staff and they’re very good when dealing with crime victims.”
Richmond also talked about the city’s initiative of purchasing new LED streetlights for residential streets and installing them.
“That’s going to make a big difference in the quality of life,” he said. “That also cuts down on crime. It’s been said that lights are cheap insurance. I’m very excited about that.”
Richmond said he’s proud to have been part of the process of the city hiring a full-time grant writer, having voted in favor of pursuing that. He said that’s something the city is still working on.
“There’s tests involved. There’s interviews to be done. I voted for the hiring. It was discussed. I saw the information provided by the people working for the city, the experts that they contacted and the Council voted on it to move forward with that and I’m very excited to be part of that,” Richmond said.
If the city had grants for street repairs, it could work on more streets and sidewalks, he said. Batavia would be able to rehab the ice arena if it got grant funds, Richmond noted.
“That’s expensive. It’s an aging building,” he said. “I think it goes back to the ’70s.”
Richmond said before they built the arena on Evans Street, now known as the David M. McCarthy Memorial Arena, there was nothing there except St. Mary’s Church and lots going back behind it.
“Another thing I want to see done is, where the old Ward Plow Factory is on Swan Street, I want to see those buildings taken down. They’re an eyesore. They’re dangerous. I want to see that site cleaned up and repurposed for something else,” he said.
Schmidt, another lifelong city resident, is a member of the City of Batavia Republican Committee, County of Batavia Republican Committee and Batavia Business Women’s Board, and is chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee. She earned is financial management assistant at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department. Schmidt graduated from Batavia High School and earned an AAS degree at Genesee Community College. Her interests include decorating, traveling/camping, fashion and shopping.
The Ward 6 representative said the main reason she got involved with Council was to be a voice for the ward and to hopefully be a part of growth in Batavia.
“I would love to see opportunities for our talented youth to stay local and for all citizens here to feel safe, happy and proud to be a part of this community,” she said. “Having been here my whole life, I am very invested in doing whatever I can to revitalize and rejuvenate our city I am running this year to keep this seat until the end of the term, which is next year. Then, I will be running again next November for a full, four-year term.”
Some important issues to her, Schmidt said, are keeping property taxes under control and being fiscally responsible, while continuing on a path of repairing the old, building new and coming up with ways to provide more middle income housing to recruit businesses and people for good jobs.
“Growing our tax base and providing things for residents to do is all part of making Batavia the best it can be, a great city with lots of happy people,” she said. ”I don’t believe any one person can address the city issues alone. I think it takes a great team and many working together for the greater good. That definitely involves give and take. I will strive to be a good part of the team with a strong voice for the people and their concerns along the way. I hope to see Batavia grow and the residents prosper.”