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Stokes to 'fix the problems' in Cortland

CORTLAND – Russ Stokes will be the next president of Cortland after securing 51 percent of the vote Tuesday, defeating both the incumbent mayor and a trustee who was seeking the office.

Two-term Town President Robert “Bob” Seyller came in second with 26 percent of the vote, and Trustee Chuck Lanning received 22 percent, according to unofficial totals from the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office.

“The numbers far exceeded my expectations, but I’m really glad to see the public has so much trust that I can go in and fix the problems in City Hall,” Stokes said.

Lanning said he was disappointed to lose, but said he has confidence in Stokes.

“We will go forward with Russell,” he said. “That’s the important thing. We have a big mess here, and we have to go forward.”

Lanning, who has sat on the Town Board for 20 years, said he was not surprised he lost to Stokes, but was surprised to finish third.

“My whole goal was to get Seyller out,” he said. “So that turned out for the best.”

Seyller speculated on several causes for his loss, including “office politics” and voter frustration with politics in general.

“I did the best job I could. I did everything I think I was supposed to do,” he said. “A lot of the criticism I was taking from people, it’s not going to matter who the mayor is. People are concerned with their taxes and their schools and a lot of different things that aren’t the town’s responsibility.”

Seyller has been criticized for the creation of a town administrator position, a role both Lanning and Stokes said had eroded communication between elected officials and department heads. Stokes said rebuilding that communication will be his top priority when he takes office.

In the board of trustees race, incumbents Mike Siewierski and Sandra Barzso retained their seats, while Benjamin Haier, with 25 percent of the vote, will replace Doug Corson, who received 23 percent.

Siewierski received 29 percent of the vote and Barzso received 24 percent.

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