ARCADE — Mayor Donna Schiener is no stranger to community involvement.
Having lived in the community for more than 30 years and been involved in a variety of different organizations, she was recently elected Arcade’s first woman mayor.
Schiener, 61, also serves on the Revitalize Arcade Committee, an organization focused on the village’s growth and success. She’s a member of the Tri County Kiwanis Club of Western New York and one of the founders and board members of Arcade Area Community Theatre.
She was likewise previously a director in a youth basketball league; planned and chaired the Arcade Winterfest in the past; and was on the Arcade’s Fabulous 50s Festival committee.
As a Village Board member for 11 years and previously a board member for Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, a move to the mayor’s seat seemed like the perfect fit.
“I have been thinking about it for about a year now,” Schiener said. “I knew that the past mayor was contemplating retirement and I realized that if I was going to do it, that this is the right time.
“I am a real estate appraiser by trade and I am privileged to travel to several villages within the WNY area, which encompasses our surrounding five counties,” she continued. “I see what is working, what is not working, and some of the great strides that are made by other villages with the support and hard work from their village boards. They are an inspiration to me and a realization that we have that potential as well.
“Our Board also gained a very vibrant trustee last fall, Wyn Roll, who has the same passion as I do regarding commerce and the economic development within the village,” she continued. “He and I both share the same views to create a family-friendly environment within the village, as well as make it attractive for shoppers and visitors. I am a few years out of retirement myself — but feel I can dedicate the essential time that is needed to oversee the village’s affairs.”
The grandmother of three, Schiener has been married to her husband, Wally, maintenance director for Pioneer Central School District, for almost 40 years. With focus on growing the village of Arcade, Schiener hopes to become more “engaged with the village and the county” during her time as mayor.
Since she began her reign as mayor in February, Schiener appointed a new board member and she’s bettered communication between the mayor’s office and village department heads.
“It has been going very well,” she said. “I have had many of the department heads and village employees congratulate me and offer their support when needed. I also appointed a new board member to fill my seat until next year; as my term was not up until next year. His name is Eric Szucs and he is the Director for Wyoming County Travel and Tourism. He is young and energetic and has a lot of ideas that will cater to the younger generation as far as activities, business opportunities, etc.”
In the first stage of executing the Main Street Grant — which canvases Main Street businesses to see which want to be a part of a larger grant as part of the area’s revitalization — the mayor and village board are working toward creating a more vibrant Main Street.
“We received a similar grant about 10 years ago, just after I got on the board,” Schiener said. “Many businesses took advantage of the program, but since then, some of the buildings have become vacant again and have deteriorated and need some rehab.”
Looking to the future for a possible run as a two-term mayor, Schiener noted if there were “more projects and goals that have not been met; of course, I will want to continue to see them through.”
“Our village board is primarily there for the taxpayers of the community,” she said. “We do everything that we can to provide a safe, friendly environment to those that live here while doing our best to keep taxes ‘at bay.’”
As the first woman elected as mayor in the village, Schiener is honored to hold the title.
“Of course, I’m honored, and at times it seems strange to be addressed as Madam Mayor, but I also feel that women have consistently played an integral role in politics and leadership,” she said. “The first woman mayor was put on the ballot in 1887 as a cruel joke. In the end, the joke was on those that put her on the ballot because Susan Salter, of Kansas, won! I believe that the residents in this village didn’t support me because I am a woman; I believed that they voted for me because they know me, they know that I love my village and they know my commitment to the success of this village.”