Dean Fabiano enjoys his job, and he’ll get to keep it for another two years. The four-term legislator is running unopposed in a district that includes the southern part of Saugerties and parts of the town of Ulster. He says that’s good for him, but bad for democracy. More on that later.
Born and raised in Saugerties, Fabiano has two daughters, Shana, 27, and Shelby, 22. He’s worked in Saugerties for the past 35 years as a member of the Town of Saugerties Highway Department. Fabiano is a registered Republican and has been endorsed by the Conservative and Independence parties.
Why are you running for office?
I’m running for reelection because I love my job very much. I enjoy the fact that I’m able to serve my constituents. I serve them quite well, I believe. You can check with any of them. I enjoy doing what I’m doing very much.
Why do you think you’re good at your job?
I’m a people-person. I’ve very approachable, and I take my job very seriously. I don’t take it lightly. Right now, I’m serving as chairman of the Public Works and Capital Projects Committee. I’m finishing my fourth year, and I enjoy that because that’s what I do for a living.
What is the job of a county legislator as you see it?
Since the county executive form of government came into place, our jobs as legislators are setting policy and doing the budget. Those are our two main roles.
What issues are you most interested in?
Right now, going into this year, the turbid water releases into the Esopus Creek. This is something that’s been going on for far too long without resolve, and what I would like to see is a joint effort with all surrounding counties and with our state and federal officials to help solve this problem once and for all. I think it’s been getting out of hand, and I know that here in the town of Saugerties, the past couple of years, there’s been times during the spring and summer where our water has just become totally muddy and brown. It’s affected the fishing and the boating and the enjoyment of the water. You can’t go in it because it’s mud; it’s like chocolate milk. The other thing is jobs. I hope the legislature will unite in adopting a budget that will not lay off any county workers. I would also like to work to facilitate completion of major projects such as the Belleayre Resort project, and I’m pleased that this particular effort is nearing the end of a long process that will bring much-needed economic vitality to our region.
Describe your district. How is it changing? What issues does it face?
My district is very country. I do the southern part of Saugerties and northern part of town of Ulster. There’s some farmland. It’s very rural. You’ve got places where you’ve got a house every quarter mile. It’s a nice area. It’s a pretty area, but how it’s changing is how it’s changing everywhere else in New York State. We’re losing our young people because they go to college, my daughters included. One already had to go to Latham, and the other one, when she finishes her nursing, is definitely going to have to leave. The work is just not here. It’s becoming a bedroom community.
The people, I think, have decent jobs. It’s a financially sound district. I just don’t see, at this point, any future growth, sad to say.
What is your message to the voters?
I just want them to know that I’ve been their legislator for the past eight years. I feel that I’ve served them well. I’ve been there for all of my constituents, whether they’re Republican or Democrat or man or woman. I respond to their needs almost instantly when they need me, and I will continue to do that.
On running unopposed:
I’m running unopposed for the second time, and we have 23 legislative districts, and I believe there are as many as eight or nine where there’s no opposition. Of course, for the candidate that doesn’t have the opposition, it’s a good thing. But, for the process, it’s not a good thing. It shows me that people are less and less interested in getting into their local governments, which is sad. I like to see contested races. I think it brings the better of the people out, where you can show two different sides of issues. Politics anymore has gotten into the gutter. It’s so dirty anymore, it takes the enjoyment out of it. I think this keeps a lot of people, a lot of good potential local candidates not wanting to get involved because they don’t want to get into that kind of nastiness, and I think by doing that, you end up with second-rate candidates, which leads you to second-rate elected officials. It’s sad. The good decent people don’t seem to want to get involved because they don’t want to deal with the negativity and a lot of campaigns that are in the gutter.
How can this trend be changed?
I think that’s up to the individual and the party leaders—especially the party leaders. They need their leaders to guide their party away from engaging in that kind of politics. That’s not something I ever did. I never did door-to-door, even when I had opponents. I never went to anyone’s door or took an ad out in the paper criticizing my opponent. I strictly stayed with who I was, what I wanted to see done, and how I’d like to see it done. I never did that, and I’ve been lucky because I’ve never had it done to me, and that’s probably why. It’s all how you carry yourself.