I’m John Hutchings. The photo above from our son Alex’s graduation this May includes my wife, Kim, all five of our children, Mackenzie, Micalah, Alex, Grace and Grant, as well as son-in law, Justin and NEW grandson, Hunter Jack, along with my mom, Kathy and dad, David, who, if it wasn’t for him, I’d be the shortest Hutchings male. If nothing else, this family photo is a reminder of how fast time flies and how life changes quickly. Just like a lot of you, our family has grown up here in Webster, NY, ‘Where Life is Worth Living’ and it’s been pretty good. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t pay much attention to what went into keeping our Town operating on a day to day basis. Like many of you, I was busy raising a family and making a living.
Then, in January of 2017, Barack Obama told me to get involved in local politics in his farewell address. I had switched party registration from Republican to Democrat in 2016, so I went down to the Monroe County Democratic Committee and said, “I’m here to run for elected office!” Truth is, I had started voting for Democrats several years prior…but, similar to many that I’ve met at the doors, I found that some people evolve in their political beliefs, but rarely make the move to change parties…New York has some of the most complex voting laws and we need to change that…so I was comfortable with what the County Committee asked me to do, which was recruit Democrats to relaunch the local Webster Democratic Committee. No sweat, I love marketing. I had built a successful downtown health club in a challenging neighborhood with many obstacles, this would be a piece of cake. Then, I became WDC Chairman, no sweat there, I’ve always been a leader. THEN, I became a candidate…I had some learning to do!
I ran for Webster Town Supervisor in 2017. My strategy was simple…talk to everyone I could. I met with leaders from the Webster Police Department, Chamber of Commerce, Webster Economic Development Association, Fire, Ambulance and Sewer to name a few. Then I started knocking on doors, first to get the petition signed to appear on the ballot, then to ask people for their vote…over 4500 doors between June and November of 2017. When election night was over, I came within 4% of the 22 year incumbent, garnering over 5800 votes, a record amount for a Democratic candidate in our Town.
Now, I’m back to complete the work we began in 2017 and be elected in 2019 to finish the job.
It started in March. I was not designated as the Webster Democratic Committee’s candidate for Town Supervisor. I can’t tell you why, because I don’t know. But, I have learned that the Democratic party is made up of many factions and politics in general are motivated by many different interests, so whatever the reason, I knew that meant I wouldn’t have the committee’s help in carrying petitions this time. No worries, I knocked on another 500 doors in March and collected 425 signatures (354 were required) and with the help of volunteers, John LaGambino, Kimm Stathopoulos and Bob Bennett, turned in over 500 signatures that withstood challenges from both the Webster Republican AND Democratic Committee. The Webster Democratic Committee ended up carrying what is known as ‘placeholder’ petitions and then found a registered Republican to be their candidate as my opponent for the Democratic Primary on June 25th. Again, no worries. Here’s why.
While knocking on 5000 doors in Webster, I’ve learned what the important issues are in our Town by listening to what our citizens wanted and how they felt. I have forged a connection with this community through hours and days and weeks and months of talking to the residents of Webster…I don’t knock doors to just give you three shallow bullet points (although it starts there – make our town more walkable and safe for pedestrians – create a more responsive and transparent government – prevent overdevelopment of our Town) I actually have in-depth conversations on everything from Webster’s Food Pantry, which was removed from Town Hall when they renovated it in 2017 to the loss of Union Hill Ambulance Service from Webster, also in 2017. I’ve talked with neighbors who want to Save the Well Fields, stop the Legacy Development at Willow Point and who fought the Ryan Homes development on Webster West Golf Course and the Tomato Farm on Salt Road. People also want to know what I think about Trump, Colin Kaepernick, the SAFE Act, Cuomo and Webster Schools. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we agree to disagree…but I don’t give answers to get votes, I’m genuine and I feel I owe an honest response to any question. Webster residents deserve to know the person they will cast a vote for or against. I DO look for common ground at every door and many times that comes from bringing the conversation back to what we want for Webster, NY.
I haven’t met many people who don’t think Webster wouldn’t be better off if we:
- Updated the Town of Webster Comprehensive Plan to re-evaluate the plan to
- Allocate Open Space for the next 20-30 years and, in some cases, beyond.
- Examine our zoning map to manage growth without the undesirable effects of suburban sprawl such as traffic congestion, overburdened municipal resources such as sewer and road maintenance and air & water pollution, some of which we are already seeing the early signs of.
- Research ways to develop alternative energy sources to take advantage of our local climate that provides plenty of water and wind, and believe it or not, sun.
- Examine how to better allocate our resources to improve the safety and enjoyment for our pedestrians, cyclists along with families, children and pets in our residential ‘cut through’ neighborhoods through mitigating incidents of speeding, traffic device disobedience and distracted driving, in addition to providing safe walkways.
- Focus efforts on economic opportunity and business incubation within Town boundaries to grow and diversify our Tax Base. Of note, many Webster residents worry, “how can we survive a major reduction in Xerox’s footprint in our Town?” Now is the time to plan for that possibility, not after the fact.
Lastly, I want to make our Town Hall and Town Board Meetings more user-friendly and participatory. Information from our elected leaders must be shared openly and freely, including reformatting the current structure of the Town Meeting agendas, providing for citizen input from an informed position with opportunities to shape our Town’s priorities and philosophy. I have a template for that agenda on this page that I plan on sharing with our current administration in the hope it will be implemented whether I’m elected or not, although, I would be the best candidate to implement it, so vote for me on November 5, 2019.