Heather Evans announces campaign for New Hartford town board
NEW HARTFORD — Heather Evans, a candidate for the Town of New Hartford’s Ward Two Councilor position, is committed to bringing transparency and a new voice to local government.
“I can offer a commitment to ask hard questions, a commitment to doing my own research and a commitment to being outspoken when needed,” she said.
Evans currently works as the vice president of development at the Arc of Oneida-Lewis Chapter. She is running as a Republican. Last year, she ran for a seat on the New Hartford Board of Education.
“I just feel like there’s a need for someone to say, ‘I’ll take a crack at this, I’ll step up, put in my time, I’ll volunteer my expertise and my background to try and make our town a better place,’” she said.
New Hartford’s second ward comprises New York Mills along with an area near Utica, including Sherman Drive, Tilden Avenue and Valley View Road.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time going door to door throughout Ward Two, really trying to get a feel for not only what the voters are concerned about or happy about for that matter, because I don’t only want to just look for the negatives, but also what they want from a representative,” Evans said.
One of the issues that Evans has identified is the lack of a senior center in New Hartford, and the circumstances surrounding the town’s decision to partner with 50 Forward Mohawk Valley instead of establishing or reopening a center in New Hartford.
Older adults have attended town board meetings throughout 2021 and 2022 to express their dissatisfaction with the senior center’s dwindling resources and ultimate closure in December 2021. Many of these meetings have become heated, with residents and councilors going back and forth with each other.
“I met with the group of seniors a few times now, and have gone through and heard their side of things, and my heart just broke,” she said. “I had tears in my eyes reading through the minutes from those meetings and how those seniors were out and out disrespected.”
“I am fiscally conservative, I want to be as smart with our money as we can be,” she added. But that doesn’t mean cutting corners on services that are important to residents.”
Other issues that residents have mentioned to Evans are accessibility of local representatives, stormwater, St. Luke’s Hospital, roads and affordability.
“That is absolutely the number one concern, taxes,” she said. “But all these other issues kind of boil down to taxes. The easier way to talk about taxes is to bite these issues into smaller chunks and say, ‘Let’s talk about our roads, let’s talk about our senior center, let’s talk about our retail corridor.’ But when I mention transparency and respect, those go hand in hand with taxes. No one of us, I think, has a problem paying a tax bill if we know where the money is going, if it’s going to be used appropriately.”
Evans grew up near Syracuse, and graduated from SUNY Geneseo. She moved to New Hartford and held a number of different jobs, until she began working for the Arc.
“I work in a role in development, and so I have a lot of experience with talking with people from all different walks of life, I think that’s a wonderful attribute that I can bring to the role of a councilperson, because it helps me understand where people are coming from and meet them where they are,” Evans said.
Richard Lenart, who is also a Republican, is the current Ward Two representative. He was first elected in 2018 and was reelected in 2019. According to the Oneida County Board of Elections, the term for town councilors is four years.
The 2023 primary election is June 27, with the general election taking place on Nov. 7.
Evans said that during her time knocking on doors and meeting New Hartford residents, she has come to see that the community is what makes the town a beautiful place.
“I’m not from here, I moved here. And I chose to stay here, I put down roots because of the people I met,” she said. “I went to houses where you’d knock and people would say ‘Come on in,’ ... that’s that hometown, wonderful engaging personality that our town has by and large.”
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