Two former Ulster County Legislature colleagues will face off in November to become the supervisor of the Town of Lloyd. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee-related flood damage were fresh on both candidates’ minds, as was the need for a transparent town government and the implication of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap.
However, outside of those few similarities, Republican Paul Hansut and Democrat Jon Decker have different plans for how to make the town a better place for the people who live there.
Outside of his work in Kingston with the county government, Paul Hansut, 47, has made a living as a police detective in Poughkeepsie for approximately two decades.
That experience as a cop and investigator has also given him an insight into how contracts work. But as the current majority leader in the Ulster County Legislature, he’s also sat on the other side of the aisle during negotiations with public employees.
“In both those roles, I’ve learned you’ve got to communicate with people,” Hansut said. Having sat in on police contract negotiations, the legislator said he understands the needs and wants of municipal employees.
For the most part, the husband and father of two has lived in and attended school in the area for most of his life. “I’m born and raised in Highland,” he explained. Hansut is a member of the Catholic fraternal order, the Knights of Columbus, and has been active with St. Augustine Church as a volunteer.
In terms of his previous experience as an elected official, the detective has served on the county’s Criminal Justice Committee and on the Health and Human Services Committee. He’s been the majority leader in the county government for two years.
Prior to his run for office in Kingston, Hansut also served as a town Recreation Committee member.
As far as why he’s running, the Republican candidate said, “I was approached by a various segment in our community” who asked him to run for supervisor.
Hansut said he’d like to see Town Hall in Highland become a more welcoming place. “I believe that our town government needs to be more open and transparent,” he said. “I want to be a supervisor with an open door policy.”
If elected, he would look to find savings by relying less frequently on consultants and would look to set up an exploratory committee to see how the municipal departments could be run more efficiently and with less waste.
“I honestly believe we could save a considerable amount of tax dollars,” he said.
Hansut would also like to support smart growth in the Town of Lloyd and expand commerce in town, with a focus on revitalizing businesses in downtown Highland and fostering a working relationship with business leaders.
Gov. Cuomo’s tax cap is a worry for Hansut, who said that any way you slice it Highland will have to look for savings or make cuts. “We’re going to have to do more with less.”
While the full extent of how badly the tax cap would impact the town is still somewhat unknown, Hansut said he’d make it a priority to educate himself on the changes and keep the public informed — but he added that it could mean huge changes for the town.
Irene and Lee made a river out of Vineyard Avenue in Highland recently, but that wasn’t the only weather-related problem that plagued the Town of Lloyd. During the winter, a snowstorm knocked out power for a large portion of town.
Hansut said he’d like to see emergency planning be a focus so that when acts of God do occur, Highland is prepared to face disaster. For instance, the county legislator would push for Highland to get a Red Cross shelter — like nearby New Paltz had during Irene.
If people vote for Hansut, he said he’d bring his experience as a detective, legislator and community member to the table. “I consider myself a consensus builder,” he said.