Legislature candidates in Districts 9, 10, 16, 19, 17 and 20

Top row: Ken Wishnick (D, WF), Kevin Hines (R, C, I) and Tracey Bartels (D, WF). Bottom row: Butch Dener (C, I), Manna Jo Greene (D, WF) and Frank ‘Lenny Zapka’ (R, C, I).

Top row: Ken Wishnick (D, WF), Kevin Hines (R, C, I) and Tracey Bartels (D, WF). Bottom row: Butch Dener (C, I), Manna Jo Greene (D, WF) and Frank ‘Lenny Zapka’ (R, C, I).

District 17

Ulster County’s District 17 legislative race will pit local realtor and incumbent Ken Wishnick (D) against New Paltz’s former GOP chairman, Butch Dener. Wishnick is endorsed by the Democrats and Working Families Party. Dener is endorsed by the Conservative and Independence parties. District 17, for which the two men are competing, covers part of New Paltz and part of Esopus.


Ken Wishnick (D, WF)

Why did you decide to run for re-election?

When my son was in college, he asked about my life when I was in school. I excitedly shared stories of my activism against injustice and the good feelings I had from volunteerism.


Craig said, “what happened to you?” His question woke me up and changed my life. Within a few months, my wife Fran and I embarked on volunteer service. We sold our house and gave our full-time efforts at healing farms for people with mental illness in North Carolina and the Berkshires.

Craig had lifelong depression, as well as Asperger’s Syndrome and had been helped at one of these wonderful places so giving back was a priority. Our volunteerism continues to this day in Ulster County. I am a mediator for the dispute resolution center in Kingston, teach negotiation at the SUNY Lifetime Learning Institute, at my expense created and hosted 19 public access TV interviews (“Hello New Paltz Show”), serve on the Mohonk Preserve’s Strategic Communications Committee and am the only state certified Lemon Law Arbitrator in the county.

As a focused legislator, I have successfully advocated for enhanced environmental protection, sensible economic development, lowering of property taxes and improving essential services (videos on these subjects on votewishnick.com). I am running for re-election because there is more to be done.


What are the top two challenges facing Ulster County and your district?

1. As a fiscal conservative — who also fully understands the needs for a wide array of high-quality county services — it is a challenge to deal with state mandates for services at the same time that state and federal governments continue reducing funding to the county.

Since property taxes are already too high, increasing property taxes is emphatically not the answer. In fact, every effort must be made to search for budget efficiencies and lower the tax rate. Since the legislature is responsible for adopting the Ulster County budget, an effective legislator must have the skills to understand and question financial figures and projections.

2. Just as the budget must be carefully balanced, economic development must also be balanced with environmental considerations. Earlier this year, the Ulster County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee attempted to push through a resolution drafted by the chairperson of the legislature pressuring the DEC to stop asking for more information on the Rosendale Williams Lake Project and just expedite the approval. Although the project is not in my district, I could not allow the importance of ensuring sound environmental practices in this large project to be marginalized. My opposition to the resolution led to a more appropriate stance.


If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

1. My number-one priority will be my legislative role in overseeing the $360 million county budget. My former employment as a county department head in New Jersey and as a corporate vice president have provided considerable experience in analyzing and managing large budgets. I am totally focused on minimizing taxation while ensuring that essential government services are effectively provided.

2. Maintaining and enhancing quality of life is the second of my top two priorities. Actions on this priority will be in many directions ranging from environmental protection, saving farmland, public transit, bikeways, attracting sustainable jobs from non-polluting industries, increasing recycling, finding a better solution to sending our trash 240 miles away for disposal and more.


Butch Dener (C, I)

Why did you decide to run for election?

I am a firm believer in giving the voters a choice. With my 30 years of varied public service, my extensive knowledge of all areas of municipal government, through my municipal sales career and my personal network throughout town and county governments in Ulster County, I know that I am the best person to represent my district and be their voice at the county legislature.


What are the top two challenges facing Ulster County and your district?

The challenges of meeting individual and community needs in this economy and maintaining and improving the infrastructure in all areas — highways, bridges, sewer, water and the environment. I think it is going to take a lot of creative and knowledgeable bipartisan work to meet our needs and goals and I have served on committee after committee and project after project working across the metaphorical aisle to get things done and get results that have benefited my community. I see no reason that I would not be able to do that here.