Gardiner town supervisor candidates square off

Marybeth Majestic and Carl Zatz. (photos by Lauren Thomas)

Marybeth Majestic and Carl Zatz. (photos by Lauren Thomas)

Voters in Gardiner will have to decide between two candidates vying for town supervisor in November. Incumbent Carl Zatz, currently winding up a second consecutive term as Gardiner’s town supervisor, is seeking reelection, with endorsements from the Democratic, Working Families, Women’s Equality and Good for Gardiner parties. Marybeth Majestic is running for Gardiner town supervisor on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and P4G (People for Gardiner) party lines.

Here are their responses to questions from the New Paltz Times.

 

Carl Zatz

Why did you decide to run for reelection at this time?

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I love building businesses and community service. I can’t get enough. The rewards are tremendous and the great feelings that come with it are indescribable. Gardiner is a great place to live, and being reelected four times as town supervisor is a great reward for a job well done.

 

What skills, experiences or qualifications do you have that make you believe you would continue to make a competent supervisor?

I brag about my organizational skills, knowledge of financials and my ongoing leadership training. But what tops the list most is being able to work with a team like the one that Laura Walls, Warren Wiegand and I are part of. We leverage each other’s strengths and emerge even stronger.

 

How should Gardiner be developed in the future? Should it be kept more rural, or should it be more built out? What kind of businesses would you work to attract to town?

Gardiner’s Open Space Committee has created conservation easements and purchased development rights from two farms. That and everyone’s desire to maintain a certain way of life will keep Gardiner rural. At the same time, our Industrial District and Main Street offer opportunities to new businesses to find a new home here.

How can the Town of Gardiner optimize shared services with other municipalities?

Intermunicipal relationships between towns and county are essential for keeping roads safe and infrastructure stable. Liability, insurance issues and indemnification need to be ironed out to make shared services effective.

 

What are the top three challenges facing the Town of Gardiner right now?

  1. A) Financial stability — the kind that Warren Wiegand excels at — keeping taxes low and infrastructure stable.
  2. B) Getting the job done with fewer words and more effort.
  3. C) Cellular and broadband communications so that students, families and home offices could operate efficiently.

What will be your top three priorities when you begin your next term as supervisor in January?

Gardiner is a great town to live in. My hope is to make it even better. I’m so energized by residents’ participation in our community that it’s difficult to not follow suit.

I’d like to see more programs for accessibility for seniors and kids, whether a walk down to the river or by public transport, Gardiner to New Paltz. Broadband, Internet and cell service are essential to a growing town with students, businesses and emergency services. I’ll get that done as Priority One. And keeping Gardiner a beautiful place to live, from Main Street to the Ridge and everything in between, with towering trees, open space, clean rivers, lakes and streams and an environment that respects the planet and thrills its visitors.

 

Marybeth Majestic

Why did you decide to run for office at this time?

To give back to the town and community which I value so much. For many years I have been observing Gardiner’s politics as a concerned citizen, and my concern for our town has recently increased dramatically due to actions occurring on the Town Board. Town Board members are singlehandedly making decisions that affect the entire town, and that is not representational government. Discussions at Town Board meetings have become personal and inappropriate, and our current supervisor has stated that he will not cooperate with certain board members. Democracy is jeopardized and people are afraid to speak out, which is unacceptable to me. I decided to run for office at this time because I truly care about Gardiner’s future and I would like to make a difference.

 

What skills, experiences or qualifications do you have that make you believe you would make a competent supervisor?

I have worked as confidential secretary to three of the past four town supervisors and I am familiar with the way town government works. In this position, I was responsible for the preparation of the budget, permitting for the summer recreation program, preparation of meeting agendas and meeting packets for board members. I am a dedicated, conscientious, hardworking person with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in journalism and speech communication. I am a good communicator and team player who focuses on listening to the concerns of all to reach a fair decision that everyone can accept. I am willing to work hard to do what is good for all of Gardiner.

 

How should Gardiner be developed in the future? Should it be kept more rural, or should it be more built out? What kind of businesses would you work to attract to town? What are your thoughts about the potential for a “solar farm” in Gardiner?

In the 2004 Comprehensive Master Plan the Goal & Recommendations for Land Use listed the A-1 Goal is to “maintain the rural character of the landscape by preserving significant large parcels of undeveloped land and/or agricultural land.”

Gardiner is a beautiful town; the views throughout town are magnificent; but what makes Gardiner special are its people. Gardiner’s rural character should be preserved; however, it should be balanced with sustainability being considered. People want to know that their children will be able to afford to live where they were raised, and currently many young adults are forced to relocate due to increasing costs. Gardiner is fortunate to be home to the Minnewaska State Park, Mohonk Preserve and the Kiernan and Hess Farms, all of which preserve our open space. Gardiner’s zoning is one of the most stringent in the county, which helps preserve our rural character; however when considering our development in the future, it is important to consider sustainability for future generations.

Regarding the types of businesses I would work to attract to town, I would encourage development that will first, not adversely affect the town’s character, and second, will enhance that character so that development will be both sustainable and appropriate for the town and its residents and businesses. Increasing the tax base by new development is always good in terms of lessening the tax burden on existing property owners, but you have to be careful that you don’t look only to that and look also to not detracting from what makes Gardiner a wonderful place to live and work.

Regarding the Solar Farm proposal currently before the Town Board, solar energy is always good, but a large facility has to be reviewed so as to ensure that the adverse impacts, such as the potential impacts on aesthetics and the natural character of the surrounding area, are either avoided or minimized to the point that they are not significant. I would support the project, if it complies with the existing zoning and other town, state and federal regulations.

How can the Town of Gardiner optimize shared services with other municipalities?

Shared services with other municipalities should always be explored. I would have to look at the specifics before any determinations could be made as to what shared services are appropriate for the town. In general, the bottom line on such agreements is that if the town can save money for its taxpayers and still provide the same or better services at a lower cost and without the town giving up local control and supervision of those services, then shared service agreements would be appropriate. If sharing services can save both towns money, I am for it 100 percent.

 

What are your ideas for long-term infrastructure repairs/replacement?

Maintenance does not seem to be high on the list for the current Town Board. The Town Hall that was rebuilt in 2005 has had little to no maintenance performed on it, even though monies are set aside specifically for this purpose. I would schedule inspections of town-owned properties and perform routine maintenance, which would prohibit the large expense that is currently being considered for repairs townwide. I would approach maintenance as I do at home: If something needs to be fixed, fix it. The town should be proactive in maintaining their assets and not reacting to problems that occur due to neglect.

The Town Board has been making a list of infrastructure repairs. The questions they are now dealing with is how to pay for these repairs. They question whether or not the reserve funds in place can be used to make repairs; they have sought the assistance of an attorney to answer this question. I question why an attorney is needed. The reserve funds in question have not been in place since the 1990s, as implied at Town Board meetings. The questionable reserve funds were established by Supervisor Zatz, and having set up these accounts, he should know how they can be used without consulting an attorney.

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What is your plan for maintaining the Highway Department fleet without needing to finance three large trucks in a single year again?

It is important to remember that the Highway Department is run by an elected official who is responsible for maintaining and replacing the equipment. However, once again, it comes down to maintenance and inventorying the needs of the Highway Department. Brian Stiscia, our current highway superintendent, is more focused on maintenance and inventory than his predecessor was. As supervisor I would plan on meeting with Brian to discuss his needs and deal with them as they arise – again being proactive instead of reactive.

 

What are the top three challenges facing the Town of Gardiner right now?

Leadership, transparency in government and infrastructure needs.

 

What will be your top three priorities when you begin your first term as supervisor in January?

Leadership: I would welcome input at Town Board meetings prior to motions being voted on and listen to the constituents’ concerns. I recognize the people attending board meetings bring information that I may not be familiar with. I would treat constituents in attendance with courtesy and respect and encourage open discussion.

Transparency: I would distribute information to all board members and discuss issues at hand in public meetings, not behind closed doors in executive session. I would make agendas available before the day of a scheduled meeting. I would make the first meeting of the month a workshop session with no votes taken which, would allow all board members the time needed to absorb the information presented to them and then take action at the second meeting of the month.

Infrastructure needs: I would closely examine the immediate needs of the town and research how to fund those needs.