A packed Democratic caucus this past Monday night resulted in the incumbent Democratic supervisor Susan Zimet winning her party’s nod to appear on its ballot line, securing 178 votes to Republican challenger Randall Leverette’s 78 votes.
There were two other contested races. One was for town highway superintendent, between two Democrats: incumbent Chris Marx and challenger Steve Takacs. Marx solidified his party’s endorsement with 178 votes to Takacs’ 74.
Then there were four Democratic candidates for the two open seats on the Town Board. Dan Torres, a former New Paltz Central School District board member, received the highest number of votes from his party with 201. He was followed by incumbent Jeff Logan, lifelong New Paltz resident, vying for his third term on the Town Board, who won the endorsement handedly with 161 votes. Local contractor Ray Lunati, who is a staple at Town Board meetings came in third place with 72 votes, followed by Amy Cohen, owner of the Groovy Blueberry in downtown New Paltz, who secured 58 votes.
Former longtime congressman Maurice Hinchey gave an opening speech at the caucus. Democrat and caucus secretary Tom Rocco said that he was proud to introduce “someone who has represented New Paltz, New York State and the nation with extraordinary political service.
The congressman thanked everyone for turning out, for the work they were doing on behalf of pushing progressive and environmental issues forward and said that he was honored to be invited. He was given two standing ovations by the approximately 600 people in attendance.
Town Board nominations
Kitty Brown, a veteran Democratic Town Board member who will not be seeking re-election come this November, gave strong nominating speeches for both Logan and Torres. Brown talked about how impressed she had been with Torres’ activism in the Democratic Party “when he was still too young to vote, but not too young to drive around all of Ulster County delivering ‘Barack Obama for President’ signs in 2008!” She went on to talk about his deep love of reading and knowledge of history and his strong belief in environmental protection, as well as being the kind of leader that New Paltz and the country deserves and needs.
As for Logan, she noted that, even though she didn’t vote for him at the caucus during his first successful run for a seat on the Town Board, “He had every reason to be mad at me, but instead, he sat down at the table next to me, no animosity, rolled up his sleeves and said, ‘Let’s get to work’.” She said that she soon “found a great ally and supporter and friend. A leader in environmental protection? Check. Supporting Family of New Paltz? Check. Working to restore a YMCA summer camp for our kids in New Paltz? Check. Going to the IDA to oppose PILOT agreements instead of having businesses pay taxes? Check.”
She said that she will “miss seeing him at the Town Board meetings, but knows she will “see him at First Care, where he is a nurse; at the Cheese Plate, which he owns with his wife; on the trails of the Preserve with one of his three children that he is deservedly so proud of. And every time there is a great Democratic cause to fight for, he’ll be there.”
Highway superintendent nominations
Mary Stroethenke gave the nominating speech for Steve Takacs, noting first that “We’re so fortunate to have three very qualified people running for this position” of town highway superintendent. She said that as a teacher in Newburgh, she was asked to be on a hiring committee, and after reviewing “stacks of résumés, one being better than the next, I thought, ‘I should quit and let these people take my job — they’re all so incredible!’” But once she went through the interview process, she realized that résumés don’t always match the individual. “Some were very good, some were very flat.”
She said that she felt that Takacs had worked hard to get this nomination, utilizing his own personal funds to get every type of training required for the job; that he is someone who is out and about volunteering to coach any number of youth sports, for the Survival of the Shawangunks triathlon and kids’ triathlon every year; is on the roads and trails riding, running and was a “community-minded person that would bring his public service and his training and commitment to the job.”