On one level, at least, the two-man race for town supervisor in the November 8 general election offers voters a clear choice. They can select a newcomer to the local electoral landscape, in the person of first-time candidate Lorin Rose, or return a former four-term supervisor, Jeremy Wilber, to the office he held from 2000 to 2007. Rose is the nominee of the Republican and Common Sense parties — the latter is an ad hoc vehicle that Rose created — while Wilber has been endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties.
Both candidates are longtime Woodstock residents. Wilber, 60, moved to town at the age of six months and, with the exception of a three-year hiatus in his teens, has remained here. A writer who in the past has worked as a bartender and builder as well as the town supervisor, he shares a house in the hamlet with his wife, Fran. Rose, who is retired from a career in construction and as the operator of a retail auto parts outlet, has spent the entirety of his 55 years in Woodstock. He lives on Rose Lane (named for his family) in Bearsville with his wife, Shirley. He is a current member of the Planning Board, whose term expires at the end of 2011.
The town supervisor serves a term of two years, functions as the town’s chief fiscal officer, and is the only one of the five Town Board members who works full-time. The tentative 2012 municipal budget, prepared by outgoing supervisor Jeff Moran, who is not seeking reelection, includes a salary of $49,333 for the supervisor, reflecting a 2 percent cost-of-living increase proposed for union and nonunion town employees and elected officials.
A debate between the two candidates for supervisor is scheduled to take place beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 28, at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center. Meanwhile, in separate recent interviews Rose and Wilber answered a series of questions on prominent local issues. Following, in an alternating format, is a summary of their responses.
Why are you running for supervisor? What distinctive experience or personal qualities qualify you for the position?
Jeremy Wilber. The former supervisor cited the current “economic malaise” facing the town (and, beyond Woodstock’s borders, the state and nation) as the main impetus for his decision. “The (proposed 2012) budget, with its mix of tax increases and cuts in services, comes as no surprise. It’s time for a dialogue with the public about the levels and costs of services,” said Wilber. “We have a town whose demographics are among the highest levels in terms of educated people, professionals, and the self-employed, that is, people with initiative. We are also a community that is nestled around great cultural institutions. It is the obligation of the Town Board to maintain the community’s trust in its financial management. The sometimes-fragile components of our community must be preserved. Ninety-nine percent of the supervisor’s function is financial management.” Wilber produced copies of correspondence with the state comptroller’s office from 2000, his first year in office, that demonstrated, he said, that he took prompt action to correct accounting deficiencies in the town’s finances that occurred under the previous administration.
Lorin Rose. “It’s not working,” said the candidate of Woodstock’s town government. “As a nonenrolled (unaffiliated) voter with friends all over the political spectrum, I know I can make it work better. I’ve run a lot of construction crews and always kept my head down and paid my taxes, but (current local officials) are just throwing it away. My house was paid off when I was 37 and I retired at 55. I know how money works. The town budget is bigger but not more complex than a household budget. I come from the private sector, where you don’t get to raise taxes when the money runs out. As important as anything else, I can laugh at myself and get others to smile. It’s important to have fun while you’re working.”