Republican Kelly Myers is serving her third term on the Saugerties Village Board, a position she has held since 2006. She is married and has two children. She attended John A. Coleman High School and graduated cum laude from the State University at New Paltz. She has supervised residential programs for people with disabilities and is now employed as coordinator of religious education at St. Mary of the Snow. Myers is also endorsed by the Independence and Conservative parties. Her volunteer activities include Sloop Clearwater, the Saugerties Historical Society, the Stockade Garden Society, Habitat for Humanity, and the Saugerties Girls Community Club. She is a merit badge counselor for the Rip Van Winkle Council of the Boy Scouts of America and a Girl Scout leader with Troop 60197. She was a founding member of the Esopus Creek Conservancy and Esopus Bend Nature Preserve among many other causes. She received state Senator John Bonacic’s 2011 Women of Distinction Award and the 2004 Junior League Volunteer of the Year award.
If elected, what would be your top priority?
We need quality jobs, fair property taxes assessments and a more streamlined process for business development. The approval process takes too long; it should be more user-friendly. It is expensive to wait a long time for approvals. My other priorities include good communication and collaboration between the town, school district, village, county and state representatives, and a leaner budget. I would like to see term limits because people get too complacent. We need open government; there are specific sections of the open government law that are not being properly adhered to – the public has to have 72 hours notice of meetings, and minutes are supposed to be available two weeks after the meeting. Minutes should reflect the discussion, not just the final vote.
How does your experience make you a good candidate?
I have served on the Village Board for six years, participating in all aspects of village government. I’ve negotiated labor contracts and worked with people in the community to solve problems. I’ve supervised large residential programs and clinical services, and I am used to managing a budget and holding people accountable.
What is the role of town government – what it should do and what it shouldn’t?
The government should manage community resources wisely for the full benefit of the people in the community. It should provide services at reasonable cost, ensure the community’s safety and promote business and economic growth. On the other hand, I have a great concern about the town taking over Opus 40. When people are hurting economically, we shouldn’t be going after the extras; we shouldn’t be involved in frivolous projects. It is good to have these things, but it’s not the role of government. It should not be the taxpayers struggling to keep their homes who pay for it.
How can the town board encourage economic growth?
I would like to see a major health facility here; it would be a real boon to the community, bringing services for people and good jobs. I’d love to see a college, and a nursing-home center. The town should be encouraging this kind of growth. At the state level, Governor Cuomo has found new ways to evaluate projects through local groups. I will be attending a meeting in Albany to learn more about it. We need to collaborate with other towns and cities to attract business, share successes and learn about failures so we can avoid them. I would rather see us collaborate with other towns than competing.
As you see it, what are the current board’s priorities?
I see a lot of discussion about events and a focus on activities, such as the garlic festival. We really need to get back to the nuts and bolts. We have 18,000 people living here and 3,400 jobs. We need to bring in quality jobs.
Do you think there would be negative consequences if candidates of the opposing party were elected? What would they be?
Historically, many Town Board votes have been unanimous. There’s a danger of group-think happening. It’s great when people of different viewpoints get together; when people from different backgrounds are working together.
Once you get elected you have to remember you have to represent everybody. During the election season we disagree, but after the election we all have to work together and respect each others’ opinions while disagreeing. At staff meetings [at work] my staff would really go at it, but we worked out better solutions.
Compared with neighboring towns, Saugerties has a vibrant business district and seems to be a place developers want to build. Why is that?
Businesses here support each other. We have a thriving chamber of commerce, and there’s also a newly-formed village business association – shop owners working together to build up village business. Examples are the Christmas decorations, and stores staying open late in the holiday season. They also bring issues to the Village Board. The town is somewhat different. There is available land for corporations that need more space. I think the town did a great job making Kings Highway business-ready.