Tom Rocco and Rebecca Rotzler were elected to the two open seats on the New Paltz Village Board tonight, with Rocco securing 335 votes and Rotzler — one of the three write-in candidates — with 252.
Former New Paltz School Board president Don Kerr received 180 write-in votes, local business owner Jonathan Cohen — who was the only other person officially on the ballot with Rocco — received 124 votes. A last-minute write-in candidate and also a local business owner, Radi Serdah, had 62 votes.
Rocco and Rotzler are no strangers to village politics. Rocco currently serves on the village Planning Board, was part of the village Master Plan Committee and is also on the board of the New Paltz Democratic Committee. Rotzler, who ran with current mayor Jason West in 2003, served a four-year term and was West’s deputy mayor.
Following Tuesday’s election, Rocco said he was “happy to be elected” and intends on “serving all four years of my term before I re-enter retirement.” He said that he would have to surrender his position on the Planning Board, as well as his chair on the Democratic Committee, but looks forward to serving on the Village Board. “I’m a strong team player and I believe that anything I’ve accomplished of any significance I did not do by myself. I look forward to working with the Village Board and the mayor to get good things done for our constituents.”
Last month, Rotzler and Kerr had their Village Board petitions challenged and at a hearing held by the Ulster County Board of Election Commissioners on April 9, 23 objections on Kerr’s petition were upheld and 25 on Rotzler’s were upheld, pushing them both underneath the 100 signatures required to appear on the ballot and forcing them to organize a write-in campaign.
Kerr, who was at the village firehouse where the voting took place on Tuesday, said that “the voters have spoken and I completely respect their decision and I wish both of them [Rocco and Rotzler] well.”
Asked if he felt that by being forced to go to a write-in campaign hurt his odds at being elected, Kerr said, “the rules are the rules.”
Trustee Ariana Basco said that she was not surprised by the results. “It’s exactly what I expected,” she said after the votes had been counted and the winners announced. “Of course I supported Tom [Rocco] from the beginning, but I’ve known Rebecca [Rotzler] a long time and I think we will work well together for the village.”
KT Tobin, who was very active in the Kerr/Rotzler write-in campaign and served as vice president of the New Paltz Board of Education when Kerr was president, said that she was happy that the voters elected Rotzler and said that it was “great working side by side with Don. His commitment to this community is immeasurable and the good news is, I know he’s not going anywhere.”
One of the larger issues that separated Rocco from Rotzler/Kerr was that of consolidation. During his campaign, Rocco expressed a desire to work towards town/village consolidation, while Kerr and Rotzler have been concerned with the process.
As of press time, Rotzler could not be reached for comment.
The trustees will begin their new term on June 1.