After 186 years, Fredonia has finally voted in their first female mayor. Dr. Athanasia Landis, a 23-year resident of the Village of Fredonia, will officially hold the mayoral office come this January.
“I feel a lot of responsibility — it’s a big responsibility to be the first female mayor,” said Landis. “Not because I’m in any kind of competition with anybody else, but my father always said that in our family, women are leaders, and I have this in my mind all the time.”
Landis, who is a physician, wife and a mother of five, said that becoming mayor would be a good way to give back to the community she loves.
A family-oriented woman, Landis didn’t practice medicine for 15 years in order to stay at home with her children. Now she is working with the town to make the village a better place for all families — not just her own.
Since the beginning Landis has had a love for Fredonia that never wavered, despite the village’s slight decline in quality in recent years.
“When I first came to Fredonia, it was a beautiful village. Not only that, there was this excellent sense of community. Also, the university … I’m very academic oriented person. I like culture, I like theatre, I like music [and] I like the arts, and I wanted my kids to be raised and to grow in a community like that. I thought I had everything here,” Landis shared.
“However, a few years back I started noticing that things did not look as good as before. Businesses left or closed down and I realized that the younger people were leaving … This is why I’m here. Not to go back — I don’t believe in going back. Tomorrow is always a new day.”
Landis has many hopes for the village over the next four years during her first term as mayor, starting first with the safety of the streets of Fredonia in the most efficient ways possible. While some politicians try increasing taxes to cover the costs, Landis believes that’s the last thing that should be done and has other ideas on finding money for the town to use on improvement.
“We have to start fixing the streets. Start making the services more readily available, more timely and more efficient, because we don’t have too much money, and then [we need to] start thinking about how we can get more money,” Landis said.
“One way is taxes, which I don’t like,” she explained further. “People in the village are taxed enough. What I would like to do is widen the base of people who pay taxes … I want new businesses to start all over Main Street and beyond. These businesses have to be … locally owned or locally developed. We all have to work towards them staying, so I want some new families to come and stay as well.”
The current mayor of Fredonia, Stephen Keefe, agrees wholeheartedly with Landis in terms of keeping things local within the village and talks about his concerns with “big box” corporations within the town taking away from the locally owned businesses downtown.
“We’re plagued from all the big box stores … all these people draw all these other people away from the downtowns to the strips,” said Keefe.“That’s not unique to Fredonia. That’s universal throughout the whole country … [Things such as] malls … just draw people away, and people are worried about the rural sprawl.”
Landis also believes that building and maintaining a better relationship with the college is important, citing it as the village’s strongest asset, and sees students and the university as the things that keep Fredonia running.
“I want to open up all the doors for students to come and give us their ideas, [and to give them] some opportunities [such as internships] … I know some exist, but we can work on making them more available and efficient for the university and us … the university is our biggest asset and we need to be their biggest partner, and that’s what I’m planning to do,” Landis said.
The transition between mayors promises to be smooth thus far, as Landis and Keefe seem to have the same thoughts and ideas when it comes to certain aspects of the town.
“If any of us have successes, we all have successes. We need to realize that if we stand alone, we fall alone. If we stand together, we can do a heavier lift for the area,” Keefe stated.
Students, however, remain cautious thus far of the new mayor, citing concerns with the potential of a crackdown from someone with something to prove. Quinn Danahy, a senior public relations major, voiced concerns about increased police activity downtown.
“I definitely feel like there’ll be more law enforcement. I just think someone new in power is going to want to make a good impression and do the right things more at first, so I feel like there’s going to be more law enforcement, more rules,” said Danahy.
People tend to be wary of politicians who may make empty promises, or are unable to follow through on their platforms or have a completely different agenda altogether after they’re elected. Keefe, however, has a lot of faith in the soon-to-be mayor and gives her his stamp of approval.
“I’ve found an outstanding candidate … an outstanding candidate found me, and I’ve promoted her. She’ll be the first woman of Greek origin, who was raised in Greece, who has lived here for 23 years … [she has] great ideas and things like that. I knew she was someone who would do an outstanding job,” he said.
As for Landis herself? She has a plan in mind and plans on following through with it from beginning to end.
“I don’t believe in discussing things and then forgetting about it,” Landis said. “We’re going to have a calendar, [and] we’re going to get things done.”