Ward 2 preview: Republican newbie Seth Allen takes on council stalwart Tom Hoffay

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Aug. 25, 2011 edition of the Kingston Times.

Since being appointed to the Common Council’s Second Ward seat to fill an unexpired term in 2008, Democrat Tom Hoffay has been one of the council’s most active members. He’s pushed for citywide initiatives like the Green Jobs Pledge and ward projects including the restoration of the Pike Plan canopy and a proposed redesign of a troublesome intersection.

But Republican challenger Seth Allen, a 27-year-old newcomer, hopes to turn some of those accomplishments into vulnerabilities by capitalizing on voter discontent over some of the changes impacting Uptown Kingston.


The Second Ward encompasses the heart of Uptown Kingston. It holds the Stockade District, home of the county office building and courthouse, dozens of small professional services offices, Kingston Plaza and some of the city’s most popular restaurants and taverns. The diversity extends to the residential sector in a ward which takes in stately restored Victorian houses along Albany Avenue, modest working-class homes on the avenues east of Broadway, apartments in mixed use buildings in the business district and the Governor Clinton senior citizens’ apartments.

At left, Seth Allen. At right, Tom Hoffay. (Photos by Dan Barton)

Politically, Ward 2 is considerably less diverse. Democrats make up 42 percent of the ward’s 1,179 registered voters and outnumber non-affiliated voters who make up 31 percent. Registered Republicans are just 17 percent of voters in the ward.

Hoffay, 63, became Alderman in May 2008 after he was appointed by Mayor Jim Sottile to fill an unexpired term left by the resignation of Jennifer Ringwood. But his relative newness to elected office belies far deeper political experience. He was chairman of Kingston’s Democratic Party in the late 1980s and headed the Ulster County Democratic Committee for the whole of the 1990s. His political pedigree extends to Albany, where he worked as a regional representative for then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer from 1999 to 2006. Currently, he works part-time as a grant writer for State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

Since taking office, Hoffay has embraced a series of progressive urban planning initiatives including the Complete Streets program to make Kingston more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, an initiative to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and efforts by the Kingston Land Trust to create community gardens and preserve open space.

“You have new people coming in to the city and they have some great ideas, and they’re finding the money to do these things on their own,” said Hoffay of the new generation of quality-of-life programs. “The city needs to encourage and nurture that kind of stuff.”

There are 2 comments

  1. gberke

    Hoffay showed up at the Roundabout proposal. the ONLY city official to do so. He was totally right on the “fiasco” and we want another fiasco at the entrance to the Plaza. Totally right on the Pike Plan and there was no call except for lack of involvment that that uptown merchants were “surprised”… they have a business group! Did the entire business group not know?
    The Main Street Manager needed Tom’s attention… he got the money, ($50K, but at the cost of NOT having work done on a Comprehensive plan) but didn’t follow through and the result is no visible progress, no progress on a BID such that the BID proposal was very poorly done and not suitable for presentation for public consideration.
    Then too, he moved quickly on the social media work for Kingston, got it done, and seems to be one of the most modern of Kingston’s alderman with regard to a Communications Policy. I don’t know that Seth will do as well, or if his views for the city of Kingston are widely known or communicated.

    Hoffay is likely considered a good ol boy, but boy he’s done a good job.

  2. Seth Allen

    My name is Seth Allen and I am running for Ward 2 Alderman. I have lived in Uptown my whole life and I currently live and work right on North Front street. I am new to the political game in Kingston, but I have a lot to offer!

    In terms of the new Albany Avenue and Broadway “Roundabout,” I am against the idea. In a time of fiscal crisis for the City, I do not think it is a responsible use of our resources. If you want to look at the track record of other recent construction projects, it will inevitably go over budget and will be behind schedule. We as City residents cannot afford this. Our leaders should be focusing on our deteriorating sewer system, roads, public safety and infrastructure improvements, not an unnecessary traffic circle. The current traffic circle is hazardous, disorienting to visitors and avoided by many residents of the City.

    In terms of the Business Improvement Districts (BID). There is an overwhelming majority of business owners against the one proposed for Broadway and my opponent supports it. He also wishes to create a BID Uptown. There is already an involuntary and some say illegal special taxing district Uptown that is opposed by 90% of the property owners. I am against the idea of expanding this district or any additional involuntary assessments. We have County and City tourism offices and a Main Street Manager that are working to market and promote our neighborhoods, businesses and events. I think we could work together and achieve the same goals that some might think could be achieved by a BID. Making property and business owners pay even more special assessments for these types of marketing efforts would be redundant. I am happy to contribute my expertise for this cause. In fact, I used to work for the City of Kingston tourism office.

    Lastly, I majored in communication and media marketing in college and can vastly improve the social media presence of the City government. I commend my opponent for getting the ball rolling, but there is still a lot more that could be done like instant updates via Twitter about construction or parking issues and a comprehensive Facebook page. I believe that meetings could be done via the internet to make it easier for people to be involved who might not physically be able to get to City Hall. Polls about new resolutions could even be taken online to measure public sentiment. This is just the beginning of my ideas for social media.

    There have been articles written which have outlined more of my platform and they are posted on my blog. If anyone would like any additional information about me and my campaign, feel free to message me or visit my website-www.sethallenforuptown.com or my Facebook fan page. The election is November 8th and all of your votes count! Thank you for your time.

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