Russell Stokes for Mayor of Cortland – Candidate Questionnaire

    Mayor Russell C. Stokes
    Mayor Russell C. Stokes

    Candidate’s Name: Russell C. Stokes
    Office you are seeking: Mayor
    Unit of Government: Town of Cortland
    Candidate’s website address:

    Q2: Response to the budget crunchUnfortunately, taxes and fees must be increased to meet expenditures.

    • Unfortunately, taxes and fees must be increased to meet expenditures. Agree
    • Expenditures must be reduced to meet the revenue. It’s that simple. Agree
    • Taxes are high enough so let’s raise fees. Disagree
    • This is a time to lean on staff for their recommendations. Strongly Agree
    • It’s time to hire a consultant and get a report that will guide us through these tough times. Disagree
    • Hold the line on taxes. Use the rainy day fund to cover expenses. Things have got to get better. Agree

    Comment: There is nothing “simple” about raising our taxes. No one likes to raise them or pay them. However, EVERYTHING ends with a dollar sign! It costs money to provide the required and desired services and commodities that residents and businesses expect and demand from their municipal government. The cost of providing both increases every year everywhere. At this time Cortland does not have a sufficient Retail Sales Tax base to give much relief to our taxpaying residents. This is why the Town Board and I chose to partner with the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation in an effort to attract more commercial business to our community. We are already seeing positive results from that partnership. We have made great strides in enhancing the appearance and image of our community to attract further development.

    Q3: What services would you seek to enhance or expand during your term?
    During my present term as Mayor, we have enhanced the overall safety of our community by adding experienced full-time Command Staff and Police Officers to our Police Department. The Cortland Police Department is now a 24/7 agency. We have also hired 3 Part-time Code Enforcement Officials to more efficiently address building inspections and enforce the town’s property maintenance codes and our Public Works Department began doing a seasonal curbside removal of leaves. At the present time, I am extremely pleased with the performance of all of our Staff. At the present time, I am not aware of any need for additional services.

    Q4: What services would you cut or reduce to balance the budget?
    I am pleased to say that I don’t foresee this having to take place. If the need were to arise, I would meet with my entire Staff and we would make what cuts would be necessary to balance the budget, without negatively affecting Public Health, Public Safety, and the delivery of services to our residents.

    Q5: What makes you uniquely qualified for the position you are seeking?
    I have 43 years of proven leadership, supervisory experience, and training, having served in municipal law enforcement. I have demonstrated my commitment to the Cortland community since 1991. I am not a politician. I don’t enjoy telling people what they don’t want to hear but I will. I don’t talk out of both sides of my mouth. Most residents know and trust me. I have always felt it was the public trust that got me elected as Mayor in 2013. As a team, our Town Trustees, Clerks, and Staff have moved Cortland forward. I am committed to continuing our efforts to improve our community. I am personally paying for my campaign. I am not indebted to anyone except our hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying residents.

    Q6: What does open, transparent government mean to you?
    A governmental entity, doing business in such a manner, that citizens would have information available to them in a timely fashion so they would know when a topic of public interest will be discussed, and after the fact, how that topic was presented, what discussions took place regarding that topic and what data was presented regarding the topic that brought about resolution.
    As Mayor, I have gone to great lengths to keep our residents informed through my letters made part of the Town Newsletter which is also available in the Town of Cortland website at

    Q7: What changes to your community are needed?
    I sincerely hope that residents are revitalized with what improvements have been made throughout our town the past 4 years and that it has fostered a sense of pride in our community. I believe it is that pride that will spark a desire for our residents to become involved volunteers, or as elected officials, to bring fresh new ideas and energy that will continue to move the Town of Cortland forward. There is much to be done. The recession left a mark on our town, unlike any other community. Hindsight is 20/20. Let’s learn from the mistakes of others. Pride, spirit, and leadership are needed to make the positive changes that will improve the image of our community in order to attract reputable businesses and quality residential development.


    1. I’ll gladly tell anyone who wants to know this story and a few others if they reach out to me. It’s should be clear as day that Cortland has had 5 houses built in 4 years, and that the current administration is not very motivated to complete the 5 subdivisions that have sat unfinished for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, most of the housing prices in DeKalb County have recovered to near pre-Recession values. I have a Cortland townhome that I bought for 167k that’s still underwater with similar unit sold values around 100k. Cortland’s housing values are abysmal. Meanwhile Sycamore is building 4 to 5 houses at a time. All you have to do is drive around the north side of Sycamore to prove that. Then drive through Cortland. All the proof you need.

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