Manna Jo Greene (D, WF)
Why did you decide to run for the County Legislature at this time?
Because of my knowledge of health care, solid waste, energy and the environment — issues that are currently being considered by the legislature — I was actively recruited by people from both major parties and beyond to run for Ulster County legislator from District 19 to represent the people of Rosendale, High Falls and Stone Ridge. I have served on the Rosendale Town Board for the past eight years and those who reached out to me convinced me that my experience and expertise were needed at the county at this time. It will be my great pleasure to serve in this expanded capacity.
What do you see as the top two challenges facing your district?
1. Strengthening our economy. The economic challenges faced by so many people and businesses in our region make job creation and retention critical. One of the best opportunities to address that is by actively transitioning to a green energy economy based on energy-efficiency and renewables, with the skilled workforce this will create and maintain. Ecotourism is one of this county’s most important assets, as is local agriculture, which must be supported and maintained for its economic value, food security and the beautiful landscapes area farms contribute.
2. Health, safety and community resilience. Given the severe hurricanes, tropical storms and flooding that we’ve experienced over the past few years related to climate change, promoting disaster preparedness and community resilience and supporting our first responders is a very high priority for me, as is mitigating climate change. I am working on a project called Sustainable Operations for Safety to install solar with battery backup in area police and fire stations, Town Halls and emergency shelters. With my nursing background, I strongly support affordable, accessible health care, both for prevention and treatment. Quality education is another aspect of community resilience, which needs to be ensured.
If elected, what would be your top two priorities?
1. Sustainable economic development. Sustainable development is my top priority: creating jobs that are lasting, have a positive impact on the community and promote a sustainable lifestyle for future generations. I’ve been teaching people how to do this for several decades through the original Hudson Valley Harvest Buy Local campaign, creating models of green building and renewable energy and now serving on the Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainability Planning Consortium’s Energy Working Group. I built one of the first solar-powered, green buildings in my backyard, then wrote grants which equipped the Rosendale Rec Center with solar and geothermal, saving the town approximately 50 percent on its energy costs while generating clean, renewable energy and modeling energy efficiency. The 10kW solar system was fully paid for when it was installed and has reduced the town’s energy costs ever since. As legislator, I will develop and/or support legislation and policies that promote sustainable development and a strong local economy, while reducing pollution and mitigating climate change.
2. Sound solid waste management. I served as Ulster County’s recycling coordinator for more than ten years, bringing the county’s recycling rate from four percent to 40 percent in less than a decade. However, we’re still exporting much of our residual waste, to the tune of $3 million per year, which taxpayers bear. It’s time to stop exporting our waste and our dollars by reducing, reusing, recycling, composting and managing solid waste wisely and efficiently here. Local self-reliance is a key principle of sustainability.
Two residents of Gardiner, an incumbent and an energized newcomer, are vying to represent their constituents in District 16 of the Ulster County Legislature. District 16 encompasses Gardiner and a portion of the Town of Shawangunk.
Tracey Bartels (D)
Tracey Bartels, endorsed by the Democratic Party, is vying for a third term as a county legislator. She is known for being a fiscal conservative and an environmental advocate. Bartels led a bipartisan committee that investigated the mismanagement of the county jail project. Bartels is also a proponent of open government and co-authored the resolution that ended what she considered to be “closed-door meetings on county property.” She also has stated that if reelected, she would work “hard to lower your property taxes and to advocate for property tax reform at the state level.”
Frank ‘Lenny’ Zapka (R)
Frank “Lenny” Zapka is a retired City of Newburgh Police detective and he is currently a part-time investigator for the Town of Montgomery Police Department, who has been endorsed to run by the Republican Party to represent District 16. Zapka says that he “enjoys the open space in Gardiner and Shawangunk,” but he also believes that “businesses will help keep our taxes to a manageable level.”
He is a strong proponent of keeping government “small” and protecting the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment to the Constitution. “Many have died for these rights, let’s not just throw them away” is something that he feels should be taken seriously.
If elected, Zapka has promised that he would “support the continued presence of the New York State Police and Ulster County Sheriff’s services in our town. Being a former law enforcement officer, I know how important it is. Maintaining Gardiner’s quality of life is foremost,” he stated as one of the reasons why he is running to represent his community as a county legislator.