The Democrats have once again taken the helm of the New Paltz Town Board. After a 15-year hiatus from the job, former two-term supervisor Susan Zimet easily moved into her old seat as her opponent, three-term incumbent Toni Hokanson, pulled out of the race to secure a full-time job in the private sector.
Hokanson secured 446 votes to Zimet’s 1,389.
Zimet is joined by her two Democratic running mates, Jean Gallucci and Kevin Barry, who both secured the two available board seats against Republican opponents Ray Lunati and Randall Leverette.
“I feel like I’m coming home,” said Zimet after the results were announced. “I’m wiser and more experienced and I’m ready to get to work.”
Zimet said that her “expectation” is that her board “focus on the work that needs to be done with no personality clashes because I won’t tolerate that. People are hurting, they have real problems and we don’t have time to play games.”
As for some of the “smaller” ticket items Zimet would like to take care of when she assumes office in January 2012, she said, “Getting a crossing guard for our middle school students and a dog park.” As for the big ticket items, she said, “Getting infrastructure put in place for our industrial corridor on South Putt Corners Road, trying to promote the recommendations of the Government Efficiency Committee and working with the State to make New Paltz a model community and exploring how we can make New Paltz the first community to go off the grid and supply our own electricity.”
Gallucci, who recently lost a bid for a second term as a village trustee, was the highest vote-getter in the New Paltz Town Council election, securing 1,256 votes.
Like Zimet, Gallucci is no stranger to local politics and the inner-workings of New Paltz government, as she served as the Village Clerk-Treasurer for almost six years, as the town’s bookkeeper for two-and-a-half years and as a village trustee and deputy mayor for four years.
Asked how it felt to win the election, Gallucci said, “It feels good.” She said that she has been “sitting in on the town’s budget discussions,” will be at the upcoming public hearing and will continue to pursue “fiscal responsibility” when she takes office in January.
Barry said he felt “great” after learning that he had won the election and said that he is “ready to serve” and “looks forward to (his) commitment to the voters.”
He wants to hit the ground running and said that before he takes office in January he plans to work with his running mates and fellow board members to “get up to speed on all of the issues, the budget and find ways of making our government more efficient and lowering taxes for our residents.”
He added that he is excited to “find other sources of revenue,” to “build up our sewer and water infrastructure” and to “include our opponents Ray Lunati and Randall Leverette. I want to include those two men into our administration, as they have incredible energy and talent and commitment to this town. We all have similar goals and values.”
Leverette secured 724 votes and Lunati 554.
There were several uncontested races, including Christopher Marx for highway superintendent, Jim Bacon for town justice and Rosanna Mazzaccari for town clerk.
There were many write-in votes for various positions, but with the modern voting devices replacing the old lever machines, those write-in ballots were sealed in a freezer bag and delivered to the BOE. All vote counts are unofficial, as they do not reflect absentee ballots, write-ins or challenges. But locally there was no race that came close enough to where those ballots could change an outcome.