The field of candidates for local office in the fall election gained two entrants in the past week, as former Woodstock councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum announced that she would run for town supervisor and current Town Board member Bill McKenna declared that he would seek another term on the board.
Rosenblum, who served a single four-year term on the Town Board from 2008 to 2011, disclosed in a February 20 interview that she would vie for the supervisor post, as she did two years ago. That bid was derailed when the current town supervisor, Jeremy Wilber, soundly defeated Rosenblum in the Democratic Party primary and went on to win the general election over the Republican Party nominee, Planning Board member Lorin Rose.
Wilber ran in the 2011 election as the nominee of both the Democratic and the Working Families parties, while Rose was endorsed by the Republican Party and by his own Common Sense Party, an ad hoc creation.
Wilber has yet to decide whether he will seek another two-year term in the upcoming election, leaving Rosenblum and Rose, who announced at the end of January that he would run again for supervisor, as the only declared candidates for the position. Whereas the other four members of the Town Board work part-time, earning about $10,000, the supervisor works full-time and functions as the town’s chief fiscal officer. The supervisor’s salary is approximately $49,000.
Since Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than four to one among registered voters in Woodstock, local candidates often view a Democratic Party endorsement as at least a theoretical advantage, which they seek to gain by competing in the party’s primary election. Only registered Democrats are eligible to participate in the primary. As a result, Rose in recent months changed his registration status from unenrolled to Democratic, signaling his intention to compete in the primary. Rosenblum is the current chair of the Woodstock Democratic Committee, but may relinquish that post during her candidacy, as she did in 2011.
All candidates must submit nominating petitions in order to run in the primary and general elections. In recent years the Democratic primary has been held in September, but a date for this year’s contest has not yet been set. The general election will take place on November 5.
Reasons for running
Rosenblum cited a twofold rationale for her candidacy: a belief that her experience as a Town Board member — and as deputy supervisor during much of former supervisor Jeff Moran’s four-year tenure — will enable her to push projects and decisions through to completion; and a determination to make better use of the local talent pool. Rosenblum served as a member and the vice chair of the Planning Board before her election to the Town Board.
“We don’t move forward enough. We start things, but don’t finish them. People serve on committees, but nothing happens,” said Rosenblum, offering the example of a volunteer committee’s report on proposed uses for Andy Lee Field. The report was submitted around 2005, she said, but the Town Board allowed it to languish, taking no action. “These things just disappear,” the candidate continued. “There are so many great people in this town, with great ideas. I want, as supervisor, to reach out to them.”
Rosenblum suggested that her candidacy this time around would be better defined than her ill-fated bid of 2011, when she drew only 90 votes, to Wilber’s 407, in the Democratic primary. “When I lost last time, it was mainly because I wasn’t able to tell everybody why I wanted to run,” she said. “It’s not enough to want to want to (do something). We all want to; we all care.”
McKenna, meanwhile, confirmed in a February 26 interview that he would seek reelection in the fall. “I’m having a good time and enjoying the work,” said the councilman, who served a previous term on the Town Board from 2004 to 2007. “This has been a positive board, with a good chemistry right now. For over a year the board has been very cordial and productive. I would like to see it continue.”
The current board has set Woodstock on a sound fiscal course, in McKenna’s view. “The town is headed in a good direction financially,” he said. “We made some hard decisions in the last two or three years, tweaking budgets and personnel. We had to let a few (employees) go, which is always a difficult thing to do but was good for the town’s long-term future. We eliminated the position of planning specialist and reduced the use of outside planning consultants. I want to see Woodstock stay on a good financial footing.”
McKenna, who is a building contractor, noted that during his terms on the council he has played a central role in the construction of the highway garage and the renovation of Town Hall, which is approaching completion. If reelected, he said, he would particularly look forward to participating in two proposed projects: the installation of reed beds for sludge processing at the wastewater treatment plant and a renovation of the Community Center, as championed by councilwoman Cathy Magarelli, who is also seeking reelection.[Note: The estimated cost of renovating the Community Center is around $800,000, not $200,000, as a recent Woodstock Times article may have implied. If it were to proceed, the project might be financed by a combination of private donations and funds from a municipal reserve account.]
At this early date, McKenna and Magarelli are running unopposed for the two upcoming vacancies on the Town Board. Councilmen Ken Panza and Jay Wenk are midway through their current four-year terms, as are town clerk Jackie Earley and highway superintendent Mike Reynolds. Elsewhere on the electoral front, incumbent town justice Richard Husted thus far has no opponent in his announced bid for another four-year term. Husted has served on the local bench since 1998. The town’s two justices — the other is Frank Engel, who is not up for reelection — each earn about $14,000 a year.