On November 3, voters will choose among two incumbents and two challengers vying for two seats on the Town Board. In a September primary, Democrats chose current deputy town supervisor Laura Ricci and incumbent councilman Jay Wenk to run on the party line. Wenk narrowly bumped incumbent Democrat Ken Panza off the ticket.
But Panza stays in the race by running on the Republican ticket along with Janine Fallon-Mower. Both gained nominations at the party’s September caucus.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the candidate profiles for town board.
Janine Fallon-Mower, who has unsuccessfully run for the board, most recently in 2007, said she’s jumping in this time because people seeking another choice asked her to run. Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, she said, “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”
She said the town needs to widen its pool of people interested in running for local office aside from the same group of people who tend to run all the time. She wants to start a mentorship program to encourage young people to get involved in local politics.
Fallon-Mower tells people she’s “just a local, not a native,” having moved back here because her father is from Kingston. Though she went to Kingston High School, Fallon-Mower still identifies with Woodstockers because she hung out with the Onteora kids.
She’s been in the nursing field since 1975, enjoys genealogy and has written several books on Woodstock history. She runs the weekend flea market with her husband John Mower, a former town supervisor. They have a son, Allan; a daughter, Colleen and four grandchildren.
Fallon-Mower has been involved with the Woodstock Historical Society since 1987 and he served on the Woodstock Library Board.
She says she wants better access to Town Board meetings, especially at budget time. Many of the meetings with department heads are in the afternoon. “We don’t hear what goes on at the beginning,” she said. “When the department heads talk, that’s where you get the train of thought on the budget.” She also wants to promote better communication with the public during the budget process that “helps people understand why we’re paying what we’re paying.” She wants to take some budget meetings to seniors or other groups that won’t or can’t make it to town hearings and presentations.
Fallon-Mower would tackle quality-of-life issues — a major one being a lack of convenient parking in the business areas of town. It is time to reassess available resources for parking in town, she said. She also wants to get an idea of how roads are prioritized for plowing in the winter and sort out the mixture of public and private sidewalks to make maintenance more consistent.
As a nursing case manager for HealthAlliance, Fallon-Mower said she is able to listen, then process and define a problem by filtering through the language. “You need to put it all out there in a plan” as opposed to crisis management. “The government is very good at crisis management,” she said noting the need for long-range planning.
Fallon-Mower also want to tackle the rising costs and mobility issues that pose challenges to seniors who grew up here and want to stay in the area. “Many of them don’t drive. That’s a big barrier.” While the county provides affordable bus transportation, it still involves walking distances that may be prohibitive, she noted.
Fallon-Mower sees many changes with new people moving into town and with that brings new challenges in preserving quality of life. “We want to embrace the new people. But we also want to preserve that charm.”
Ken Panza is seeking a second term on the board. Undeterred by being bumped off the Democratic ticket in the September primary, Panza, an enrolled Democrat, is running on the Republican line. Being endorsed by the opposite or both parties is nothing new in Woodstock, demonstrating that party affiliation is not a large factor in local politics. Supervisor Jeremy Wilber has run on both tickets in the past.
Panza, a longtime resident, is retired from IBM, where he worked in the town of Ulster and in Poughkeepsie for a combined 30 years as an engineer. He also worked for Oracle for five years. Panza has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a Master’s in business administration.
Panza’s wife is Marsha Panza, the nurse at Woodstock Elementary school. They have a son, Jim, who recently graduated from Paul Smith’s College with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. He is now working at the Best Western in Kingston. Their daughter, Amy, works for the Center for Spectrum Services in Lake Katrine. They have a granddaughter, Kylie.
Panza’s campaign slogan is “Promises made, promises kept,” referring to pillars of his campaign that came to fruition. Leading up to the last election, the board was debating where to put a new town hall, while Panza advocated renovating the existing building. He also supported Councilwoman Cathy Magarelli’s vision for the remodeled community center. Both projects are done.
Panza said he vowed to get the Comeau conservation easement finalized in a climate when the board and parties were fighting over it. The easement was finalized and the board recently approved the final steps in the stewardship plan.
He said he has kept a watchful eye on taxes and spending, making a strong argument for staying at or under the tax cap. “The previous board had done two 10 percent tax increases back to back. Now we’re meeting the tax cap,” Panza said.
Panza took the time to crunch the numbers, making it possible for Woodstock’s town operations to be carbon neutral. That research also help the town cut its energy costs, he said. “It forces you too look at your energy expenses in some detail and that really paid off for us,” Panza said.
Going forward, Panza said, it’s time to reverse economic policies that have helped aggravate the town’s parking problem. “We reduced the fee in lieu of parking. We reduced requirements for parking. This was a problem that was ready to happen,” he said.
“Now we don’t have money to fix up the parking lots. Then there’s the whole issue of enforcement. The police really don’t give out a lot of tickets for parking issues.”