At last Wednesday night’s New Paltz Village Board reorganizational meeting, mayor Jason West appointed newly elected trustee Rebecca Rotzler to be his deputy mayor. Although Rotzler is new to this board, she is certainly not new to being a trustee nor to serving as the deputy mayor, which she did for four years during her and West’s first term together.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Mayor West, who has been without a deputy mayor since trustee Sally Rhoads resigned from the position. “She served in that capacity during all four years of my first term as mayor, and she is someone that during her time on the Village Board took pride in turning around what had been a strained relationship with the Fire Department into a positive relationship — even going so far as to help ensure that our volunteer firefighters had the money they needed to purchase dress uniforms.”
He explained that not only is it critical that they work well together, but also that Rotzler has good working relationships with others in case of emergency, as she would be the one to take over if he were absent or incapacitated somehow, and would also take shifts at New Paltz’s Emergency Operations Center along with himself and the town supervisor, deputy supervisor and emergency service leaders.
The mayor went on to say that, besides her having good working relationships with “our emergency service providers, our Department of Public Works, she is also someone who, outside of her job and political duties, spends her free time volunteering to help disaster survivors, like going down every weekend to help those who lost their homes after Hurricane Sandy.”
He said that he felt very “fortunate” to have someone like Rotzler to appoint to this “position, as we’ve had to declare two states of emergencies in my first two years of my second term of office [Hurricane Irene and then Hurricane Sandy]. We had done the training and set up the Emergency Command [Operations] Center and chain of command during my first term, but we didn’t have a state of emergency then, nor previously during Tom Nyquist’s terms or during Terry Dungan’s terms. But now, with climate change and the predictions of greater and more severe storms, I have to plan on a hurricane hitting us in the fall, so that we’re not blindsided and can respond.”