Gardiner voters will head to the polls on Nov. 5 to cast their ballots for the town supervisor, two Town Board seats, town justice and highway superintendent, as well as who should represent them on the Ulster County Legislature for District 16.
Democratic incumbent Carl Zatz is running for a second consecutive term and his third term overall as Gardiner town supervisor. He is being challenged by Town Board member Rich Koenig. Zatz was endorsed by both the Democrats and the Working Families Parties and Koenig will appear on the Conservative and Independence lines. The Republican Party had no nominations for the position of supervisor this year.
Zatz said that he wanted to continue to lead Gardiner in being a place where there are abundant services and activities for children, seniors and families. He prioritizes planning for the future with a Comprehensive Master Plan that ensures strategies to make the town’s highway department, sewer system, municipal office and software and waste facilities top-notch with skilled workers, so that basic services are provided to residents in the most efficient and high-quality way. Zatz said that Gardiner needs to continue to fight against insidious property tax laws that are overburdening property-owners, and to continue to harness the benefits of the town’s natural scenic beauty, open space, working farms and the tourist dollars that come into local businesses because of those resources.
Koenig has said that, while there are things that Gardiner residents might like to have, in light of the tax levy percentage of what the town spends, the town needs to tightens its belt and spend on what is necessary. He also believes that the town highway garage and equipment need significant attention and that the meeting format and agendas should return to an older format whereby the first meeting of the month is a workshop meeting and the second a business meeting, which in his estimation would allow more time for the board to discuss various issues, projects and concerns.
There is a four-way race for the two open seats on the Gardiner Town Board. The Democrats have endorsed David Dukler, a former New Paltz Central School District board member, as well as real estate agent Laurie Willow to serve on the board. They are being challenged by Republicans Jim Miller, a longtime volunteer firefighter, and John Hinson, who fought in the war in the Middle East and owns several businesses throughout the Hudson Valley.
Dukler and Willow are both champions of the environment, open space preservation and property tax reform. Miller and Hinson believe that there needs to be more financial reporting done at board meetings to show where tax dollars are going, as well as a maintenance and replacement schedule for highway equipment. Hinson is adamant about getting a cell tower in the town. One is being proposed currently for Wright’s Farm and is under review by the town and planning boards.
Brian Stiscia, a 20-year employee of the town’s highway department, was endorsed by the Democratic Party to run for the open position of town highway superintendent. He is being challenged by Gary Upright, who owns Upright Property Management and has worked in the road construction businesses ever since graduating high school.
Stiscia would like to focus on the roads’ drainage systems, which he believes have been neglected for years, as well as the replacement or repair of guardrails: another area that he feels has been left unattended to by past leadership. Upright wants to create a detailed maintenance and replacement plan for all highway department vehicles, do more on-the-job training as technology changes rapidly and work to reduce the amount of salt and sand used during the winter months to save money and prevent salt from entering into the town’s waterways.