An interview with supervisor candidate Greg Helsmoortel

Incumbent supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, a self-employed insurance broker, is running for his seventh two-year term. He has an associate’s degree in business from the State University at Cobleskill. He and his wife, Thomasine, have four children. He is the owner of Helsmoortel Insurance. He has served as president of the local Rotary Club, has sponsored and led the Dutchmen Baseball Club, and was inducted into the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame for this work. Helsmoortel, who is not enrolled with any party, has the Working Families as well as the Democratic line.

If elected, what would be your top priority?

To continue to keep watching the budget carefully in these difficult times. We always do, but with the finances right now, it is especially important.

How does your experience make you a good candidate?

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I think my historical record is good, in that many of my top priorities over the years are accomplished. The networks I have created and my experience help get things done for the town. A lot of the things that have happened in Saugerties are not coincidence; I and my town board have had a hand in everything, whether it be effectively speeding up the development process, or building a reputation that Saugerties is open for business. I often sit on public panels to discuss some of our accomplishments. I was just at New Paltz for the annual conference for Patterns for Progress in Dutchess County, who asked me to be on a panel concerning consolidation, and the Association of Towns asked me to be on the panel at a meeting in New York City concerning the Green Energy Task Force, and so on.

Describe the role of town government, what it should and what it shouldn’t do.

Town government should be as fiscally responsible as possible; it should not cater to one socioeconomic group. It should govern for all levels of society. If there’s a demonstrated need or want from the public, the town should be involved in recreational facilities. If we had sat on our hands when the Esopus Creek Conservancy got going, there would probably not be an Esopus Creek Conservancy. As we learned with the library, reading is a recreational activity. We helped get Lifespring going, that has turned out to be a valuable asset. The organizers say we are the only municipality in the country that has supported something like that.

How can the Town Board encourage economic growth?

We can build a reputation for being open for business, which we have done. Talk to any economic development person in the Hudson Valley and they will compliment Saugerties on building that reputation. We’re ready, willing and able to discuss new business and get all the players involved. We get the Planning Board involved, get the planner involved, and if there are water and sewer issues have the water and sewer people at the first meeting. We get Ulster County Development involved. If a new business wants to come to town, I’ll try to schedule a Planning Board workshop meeting as soon as possible. We’ve done it; HITS is a perfect example, Lazy Swan is a perfect example. We got them through the planning process as quickly as possible. We didn’t do anything illegally, but we did it quickly. Kings Highway took 10 years, and we are ready, despite the poor economy. Markertek is growing, Precision Flow is growing, HITS is doing great, Lazy Swan is doing well, and Diamond Mills moving along. Every time you get a HITS or a Lazy Swan it makes Saugerties more of a destination. AAA Magazine just featured us. These things don’t just happen out of the clear blue sky.

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