With longtime Gardiner superintendent of highways Charles Haynes deciding not to run for another term, two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring: Brian Stiscia and Gary Upright, both born-and-bred Gardinerites who feel that they’re the man for the job. Stiscia was endorsed by the Democrats to run for the position of highway superintendent. Upright was endorsed by the Gardiner Republican Party at its caucus and also received the Independent Party nomination. Here are their responses to questions from the New Paltz Times:
Why did you decide to run for the position of highway superintendent?
Basically, I felt that the department was not headed in the right direction and I felt I could help us get back on track. I thought that there was a lack of communication with the residents and taxpayers and I knew I could help improve that communication.
What experiences/skills/qualifications do you have that you believe will make you a competent highway superintendent?
In terms of skills, I’ve been employed at the highway department for the past 20 years. I’ve had on-the-job experience, which is hard to beat. I’ve also taken extra training courses in road construction, drainage and road maintenance, as well as arbor classes. I’ve had management and budgeting experience through being a chief officer with the Gardiner Fire Department. I have to submit budgets, delegate responsibility, both of which are skills and experiences I think will transfer over to the highway superintendent position.
I’ve also served as the town emergency management coordinator. Being an active volunteer firefighter (going on 250 calls per year) and being involved with the Highway Department is a good marriage. No matter what happens in town of an emergency nature — a catastrophic storm, a fire, flooding — I’ll know about it and be prepared to handle it.
If elected, what would your top three priorities be?
1. Our drainage infrastructure is in dire need of repair. There’s been too much let go for too long and we need to get a maintenance plan together and being to address bridges, culverts, drainage pipes, on top of normal maintenance and repair. It’s going to be a challenge with the budget we have, but that’s what happens when you don’t spend money a little bit at a time and let things go too long.
2. I want to replace a lot of old and failing guardrails throughout town. There are also places that should have guardrails that do not. These were put in place for protection and they’re so worn out they’re not protecting anyone. That’s a serious public safety issue, which is important to me.
3. I think we have to go after every bit of assistance money there is out there, whether it’s FEMA, state programs, the CHIPS program or any type of grant that applies to road construction, maintenance and repair. I’ll go after whatever revenue there is available, because winters are no longer predictable. We have hurricanes, which we never used to have. Instead of having a rain shower, we have these huge rain events where we get four to five inches dropped on us in one shot. It’s very hard to plan a budget when you never know what you’re going to get. So we have to plan very carefully and utilize and outside funding that we can to help subsidize our expenditures.