Outgoing Concord town supervisor Gary Eppolito (left) works alongside his successor, Clyde Drake, recently at the supervisor’s office inside the Goddard Memorial Hall in

Springville. Eppolito is retiring after a dozen years in the position. Photo by Rich Place.

By Rich Place

Come the beginning of the new year, Gary Eppolito is going to have a very different routine to his day.

The outgoing Concord town supervisor this week is officially concluding a political career that includes a dozen years in his current position and, previous to that, another decade on the Springville Village Board and as mayor.

“As elected officials, we all have a shelf life,” Eppolito said during a recent interview at the town offices inside Goddard Memorial Hall. “I don’t care who you are — you reach a point you need to give someone else a chance. With that in mind, new blood brings new ideas and new enthusiasm.”

The desire to see “new blood” in the town supervisor seat, coupled with wanting to spend more time with family while in good health, were reasons Eppolito did not see reelection this year. It’s not a surprise — he mentioned his decision a year ago to help the town transition, he said — but that doesn’t mean he won’t feel the difference in his routine.

“It’s going to be difficult for me because I’ve never not had to get up in the morning and have a job to go to,” Eppolito said, noting he started working as a kid on his family farm. “But I’m excited about it.”

For 33 years, getting up and going to work in the morning included serving as an English teacher at West Valley Central School.

“I really do miss the classroom,” he admitted. “I missed the kids I worked with. I was fortunate in that I worked 33 years in a school district I loved. I worked with great kids there. I’m fortunate I left one job I loved and got into another job I loved.”

Eppolito’s career in public service dates back to 1979 as a member of the Springville Zoning Board of Appeals. Then, in 1994, while serving as recreation director of Springville Youth Incorporated, he successfully ran for village trustee. A few years later, he became village mayor and served in that position until he became Concord town supervisor in 2005.

Eppolito said his motive for running for town supervisor stemmed from his desire to see the town and village governments be more cooperative.

“I was a little frustrated we weren’t getting along,” he admitted. “I thought the town could do a little better. That was the main reason.”

And a dozen years later, Eppolito said his proudest accomplishments include the new senior center, the relationship with Mercy EMS, improvements to the Lucy Bensley Center, the relatively flat line on taxes and the upgrading of highway equipment.

“I could not have accomplished anything I did here in my 12 years without the board that worked with me,” he said. “My goal when I came here 12 years ago was just to leave the place a little better than I found it. I think we’ve done that.”

Among the accomplishments, though, it seems in speaking with Eppolito that the senior center, along with improvements to senior transportation, topped the list.

“The town had been talking about (a senior center) for years,” Eppolito said. “But several administrators just couldn’t gain any traction. We began early in my tenure as a supervisor here saying we should do something.”

As it happened, the bonds for the Hulbert Library were expiring and that paved the way, with the town board’s support, to proceed with the senior center’s construction.

“We talked it over and said why don’t we … allocate resources in a different way,” he explained. “Take what we are paying on the library, keeping making those payments and transport that into a senior center. We could do that without raising taxes and that’s essentially what the board did.”

And then there’s holding the line on taxes.

“The fact we’ve held the tax rate and stayed under the tax cap every year, I’m pretty proud of that,” Eppolito said. “It was a struggle at times — at times we had to say no to things. You really want to give people what they need, a lot of things.”

As village mayor, Eppolito was involved in getting local police coverage there, making changes in government administration including the addition of a village administrator, and upgrades to public utilities.

Now out of politics — Eppolito said he prefers the phrase “public service” — Eppolito will be able to spend more time with his family, including his children and grandchildren who live out of state. But he’ll stay involved, including serving on the hospital board and the Concord Industrial Development Agency (IDA), and director of Rural Transit.

He’s also confident in his successor, Clyde Drake, who he has worked with on the town board in recent years.

“He’s had the advantage of being on the board for four years — I had a similar thing in the village when I went from trustee to mayor,” Eppolito said. “I feel very confident he’ll do a great job here.”

Through all the years of service, Eppolito said he served in the positions he did because he enjoyed them and was quick to repeatedly thank the boards he worked with for their cooperation. But his gratitude didn’t end at the government level.

“I’m very appreciative of the community to have entrusted me with this position for all these years,” Eppolito said. “It’s really an honor to be elected to something like this — they put their faith in you that you are going to do the right thing.”