Wheeler, Pepe make their cases before Tuesday’s primary


Republican voters in Montgomery County Legislative District 7 will choose who will will appear on the general election ballot on the party line at Tuesday’s primary as incumbent Barbara Wheeler faces a challenge from Michael Pepe.

Wheeler previously served two terms as fourth ward county supervisor, before being elected to a three year term on the new county legislature.

On Saturday, Wheeler said she has serious concerns about the direction of the new county government.

“We’ve been growing government, we’ve been losing revenue, we haven’t even been looking at how to consolidate,” said Wheeler.

Pointing to the proposed 2017 county budget that calls for $3.8 million in fund balance use, Wheeler said she was concerned that continued use of the balance could jeopardize the county’s bond rating.

“By spending more money and not finding ways to balance it, we’re not doing our job,” she said.

Wheeler said she is also adamantly opposed to any pay raises for any elected officials during the term of their office.

“Since this government has started, we’ve created a dynasty,” she said.

Wheeler also provided a letter that she sent to Republicans in her district, in which she wrote, “I pledge my time, energy and tenacity to this district. I have only one goal and that is to bring out the best in our county. Currently there is a concerted effort by special interests to have me defeated. My questions and departmental inquiries are apparently not welcome. What we cannot afford is to mortgage our future to self-interests. You deserve a government devoid of the ‘old boy’ network.”

On Friday, Pepe talked about his business and community service experience, which he says he hopes to apply to the running of the county government.

Pepe is currently vice president and senior relationship management manager at NBT Bank. Pepe said his primary responsibility at the bank is commercial lending, which involves evaluating the finances of various companies seeking loans.

“I do have a nose for – and the experience to identify – what constitutes a good deal for a bank so certainly I think that would come in handy in the world of economic development in the county as well, and prove to be an asset in that regard. And certainly my ability to analyze financial statements will make me an asset in the world of the county’s budget.”

Pepe also pointed to his involvement, many times as chair, on several regional leadership boards and committees such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, Fulton County Economic Development, and the Fulton-Montgomery Community College Foundation.

Pepe says his involvement on the various boards show his “ability to work in a collaborative environment with other board members to help achieve the goals of that organization.”

He added in regards to district 7 residents, “I want to represent them in such a way that I can parlay all this experience that I have in business and finance and collaborative board work and be the best possible representative for them in county government.”

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, polls will be open Tuesday from 12pm to 9pm. City of Amsterdam Republican voters in Ward 2, District 4 will vote at Jubilee Fellowship Church on 349 Forest Ave, and voters in Ward 4 will vote at Marie Curie Elementary School on 9 Brice Street.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.