The usually news-quiet Town of Hurley faces one of the busiest elections around in a couple of weeks, with full candidate slates for everything but town justices and town clerk.
At the top of the tickets will be incumbent Republican supervisor Gary Bellows, currently finishing his 20th nonconsecutive year in office, challenged for the second time in two elections by former Woodstock town supervisor Tracy Kellogg, now of West Hurley.
“Open government, fair and respectful treatment of all residents, improving cellular service and cable service to the town residents, fiscal responsibility, improved day to day management and integration between the Supervisor’s office and the town’s departments and staff” were the main issues Kellogg listed as key to her run. “The same campaign issues exist as last time I ran; not much has changed in Hurley which, in some ways is the issue. I still believe that we need a Supervisor that is not working a full time day job for another company. We need greater financial oversight. We need to be more open to requests from and assisting all residents of the Town of Hurley. The biggest change is that I have different running mates.”
Bellows, for his part, spoke about the town’s major challenges being the state’s still-lowering tax cap, and the fact that there’s been no corresponding lowering of expensive state mandates as long promised.
“Apart from that, we’ve been very good at keeping the town out of debt, and out of fiscal stress of any kind. I hope this is something the people feel I do well,” he continued. “Other than the budgeting, we still have a lot of drainage issues throughout the town and with the changing weather patterns these days, we really have to work with that. Also, having now got solar panels on the town hall, we should be looking into repeating that success at our town highway facilities.”
Kellogg said that for her and her running mates, the big challenges facing Hurley are, “Making a change in our local government, protecting the quality of life that we have in Hurley as development pressures move up the Thruway, protecting our water and the beautiful scenic qualities of our town, and maintaining our low tax rates as NYS mandates additional responsibilities to the localities without providing funding (at the same time that they cap our annual budget increases) and as we get additional pressures from New York City to reduce their tax contributions for the reservoir property.”
She added that her management skills, legal background, and self-employment, along with those years running Woodstock, give her a greater flexibility and ability to meet with residents, attend State and County meetings, than Bellows.
“I bring new energy, a fresh approach on how to look at situations. Gary is a salesman,” she continued. “Hurley demographics are shifting as older residents are moving and newer residents are coming to the area. The number of Democrats and Non-Enrolled party members are outnumbering the Republican enrolled voters.
Bellows again reiterated his years of experience, his ability to work with the town board, and the way he kept on Democratic appointees after losing a term to Democrat Mike Shultis, now running for highway superintendent, a decade ago.
“I listen to the challenges my opponents bring up and then we all bring everything up at our meetings, putting each issue in an A, B or C file, scaled between ‘hot potatoes’ and ‘neighbor against neighbor’ sorts of things,” he added. “I pride myself on getting to all the As and most of the Bs, and even some of the Cs as town supervisor.”
Running for town board seats alongside Bellows and Kellogg are Republican incumbents John Gill and John Dittus, and Democratic challengers Griffith Liewa and Evan Matthews.
Dittus, a 68-year-old Kingston High graduate who moved to Hurley in 2001 after lengthy stints as a California police officer and in the Marines, is seeking his second term. His runs is all about keeping taxes down, and maintaining Hurley as a “no-frills operation.”
Gill, the 60 year old farm manager for the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, located on his family’s former farm, is seeking a fourth term and sees the town’s main issues being “the infrastructure needs of the town, i.e. drainage and roads” and keeping town spending in check.
Liewa, a 48 year old nurse who’s lived in town for 12 years, is making his first run for office stressing how Hurley’s priority should be trying to attract businesses and jobs and making sure “that all deals that the town is involved in are done transparently and in such a way that people in the town have input.
Matthews, a flight attendant with United Airlines who unsuccessfully ran against Bellows in 2011, is a Kingston High graduate aimed at pulling the town together again, as well as the “establishment of an emergency control center.”
Republican incumbent town Highway Superintendent Clyde Russell, also with a Conservative Party endorsement, is being challenged by former single term town Supervisor Michael Shultis on the Democratic line.
Town Justices John Parker and Michael F. Jordan, both Republican incumbents, are running uncontested on the Republican line for four-year terms. Jordan also has the Conservative and Independence endorsements.