Bill Schirmer is a lifelong resident of Saugerties. He and his wife Terry reside in the hamlet of Cedar Grove, where they are raising their children, ages 18, 12 and 6. Schirmer’s oldest son has just begun his first year of college and his younger two are enrolled in the Saugerties School District.
Schirmer, 45, is a longstanding member of the Saugerties Fish & Game Club, where he has served in many capacities, including as president in 1998, 2011 and 2012. He is currently on the board of directors where his responsibilities include drafting budgets and creating policy for the 500-member organization. In 2012 he helped create the first annual Saugerties Youth Fishing Tournament, hosted at the Blue Mountain Reservoir in a collaborative effort between the village of Saugerties and the Fish & Game Club. He is also a member of the Saugerties Lions Club, the Northeastern Woodworkers Association and the Catskill 3500 Club, where he served on the audit committee. He has also served as an American Youth Soccer Organization coach in Saugerties.
Schirmer has worked at Glasco Abstract, Inc. since 1989 and has had an ownership interest since 1998. After many years of rising through the ranks as employee and junior partner, he currently serves as president and CEO.
He carries the Republican and Conservative lines.
Why are you running for office?
I’ve lived here all my life. I care about this community. I am dedicated to this community. I had concerns about the direction I saw local government heading and, with the encouragement of some of my fellow party members, I decided to run.
What is the job of a Town Board member as you see it?
I believe it is the job of a Town Board member to represent the best interests of all our residents. I believe it is also a member’s job to work to improve economic development to enhance our community as a whole.
Why do you think you’d be good at that job?
I think my career experience as a small business owner makes me qualified in this area. I have knowledge in the area of management and economics required to run the town. Being in the real estate industry, I am acquainted with taxes and the need for meaningful reform to mitigate tax increases; I understand the need to take some of the burden off the taxpayers.
What issues are you most interested in?
First, economic development. I see a need to refocus and broaden our economic development strategies and, hopefully, expand the tax base. I also think the Town Board has to identify areas where we can improve efficiency and cut out waste in order to reduce the budget.
Many candidates have identified the local economy as a top issue. Should the Town Board be doing more to address this?
Yes, we need to develop strategies to attract small businesses. We need to consider tax incentives for new and expanding businesses. These are ways to expand our economic development without incurring the cost of major infrastructure improvements and expensive marketing strategies. New York State is highly taxed and highly regulated; we need to set Saugerties apart as a place that offers exemptions and incentives for new and expanding businesses.
Are there any issues the board hasn’t addressed that you would like to see it take on in the coming years?
I do have some concerns over the level of regulation built into our new Comprehensive Plan. We will need to deal with those issues as they arise. There is the issue of the Esopus Creek, but the board is being proactive on that one. I think it’s important for board members to be well informed and to react to issues as they present themselves.
Do you feel town government is being run effectively and transparently? If not, what problems need to be addressed?
There could be more transparency. Sometimes information doesn’t flow to the public in a timely manner. I think we need to improve the town website. We need better communication between members, but I think new blood could change that. We need unity on the board to accomplish anything.
What is your message to the voters?
My professional experience makes me qualified to identify areas where we can improve town government for all of our residents. I was born and raised here. I firmly believe we have an obligation to give back to the society that supports us. While I know I can’t please everyone, I am deeply committed to seeing things through.