Two town council seats are up for election in Shandaken. Incumbent Vincent Bernstein is running again on the Republican ticket, along with Alfie Higley, a registered Democrat. The Democratic candidates are Michael Koegel and former town supervisor Peter DiSclafani.
We asked each of the candidates to describe his background, qualifications, reasons for running, and what he feels are the most important issues facing the town.
Peter DiSclafani was a town council member for two years and then served as Shandaken’s supervisor in 2008-2009. He has owned and run the Mount Tremper restaurant Catskill Rose for almost 25 years, following 10 years of cooking and running other kitchens. Born and raised in Saugerties, his education included both business school and cooking school. DiSclafani is involved in the community as a member of the fire department and ambulance squad, and he is active in the United Methodist Church in Phoenicia.
He emphasized his experience in dealing with the town budget and working with the planning board, zoning board of appeals, and state and New York City agencies, as well as general administration and “all the different facets that count in the everyday running of the town.
“The town is important to me,” he stated. “I really think that experience counts. I can work with the supervisor and the other board members to make sure what we do is fiscally sound. A lot of money comes through the town, and we have to keep an eye on the money to keep taxes down. It’s a tough economy now, and we have to be prudent and responsible.”
DiSclafani said the Phoenicia sewer project is one of the most important issues to be dealt with. “It was voted down once, and a better deal needs to be brought to Phoenicia or the town board. In my two years as supervisor, I tried to convince New York City to move toward an alternative sewage treatment system, and they didn’t seem flexible enough to see the alternatives. They were stuck on a traditional plan and didn’t want to do anything experimental. While I think it’s a good idea to have a sewer system for Phoenicia, I think it has to be affordable for the district.”
Another major issue is the rezoning of Route 28. Although the town board recently decided not to consider rezoning, DiSclafani said, “I’m not convinced it’s off the table. I don’t think rezoning in any portion of Route 28 commercially is a smart move. It can take business away from the hamlet centers, both Phoenicia and Pine Hill.”
He considers it critical to expand cell coverage in Shandaken and observed that a chain of towers might be effective, but the state won’t allow towers on its land. He said cell companies have been approaching residents about renting space on private land for towers, which may be key to obtaining coverage.
“Flooding always has to be addressed,” DiSclafani said. “The town has pulled together, and we can come out of this stronger and with better knowledge of what to do next time. When you own a home and you’ve been flooded, you know how to prepare for next time, but nobody knows when and where it will happen next time. People can prepare by sandbagging, having water available, getting a backup generator.”
In conclusion, he said, “I think my experience will help the town. I’m not a stranger to what needs to happen and how it needs to happen for the town.”
For more information, see http://Voteforpeter.us.