Legislature candidates in New Paltz, Gardiner, Rosendale & Highland

District 17 (New Paltz)

Randall Leverette.

Randall Leverette.

Randall Leverette

What skills or experience of yours qualify you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

I’ve been fortunate in my career path, both professionally and as a volunteer after graduating from George Washington University where I earned a degree in political science and while working I later earned a Master’s degree in community economic development.

Living in Washington, DC my work focused on government relations and public policy analysis, first as a research assistant at a public policy think tank and later as a vice president in a government relations public relations agency. Later, serving as a legislative specialist for a legal practice energy group, I worked on customs, tax and environmental compliance matters. After relocating to New York, I worked in strategic communications for HBO and Disney/ABC where I managed the public affairs and community-based outreach for issue-oriented programming on such topics as child abuse, substance abuse, civil rights/tolerance and mental health in close coordination with national organizations who play an advocacy role for those concerns.

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After retiring in 2007, I became active in local politics here in New Paltz, first serving as a member of the Police Commission and later as chairperson. I was also a member of the public access committee and various consolidation committees. In Washington, I served as volunteer chairman and CEO of the Adams Morgan/Mount Pleasant Community Development Corporation.

My well-rounded career has exposed me to the many facets of government, public policy, economic development, managerial finance, accounting and reporting, communication, collaborative engagement and volunteerism. All of these experiences qualify me and will serve me well if given the honor of representing New Paltz and Esopus as its representative to the Ulster County Legislature.

 

Describe what the county legislature does and how it impacts the residents of your district.

The Ulster County Legislature is an infrastructure, emergency services, education and operations agency for the entire county. It coordinates all of those functions in areas that cross town lines, services that include: roads, flood control, economic development, law enforcement and judiciary, social services, emergency communications, garbage removal and recycling, Ulster Community College and delinquent tax collection. It is under-performing in almost all areas of its responsibility. Defaulting economic development decisions to the IDA, and in so doing, allowing a small, unelected committee to set not only our county property tax rates, but also those within our towns, as the Park Point PILOT decision demonstrated. It was just announced that improving a poorly functioning emergency services radio system now has no target date, and will be postponed indefinitely, as it has been sacrificed in favor of a construction project. There is no planning, let alone timetable, for upgrading culverts to meet 21st century flooding realities, resulting from heavy rain or melt-offs. Safety Net Programs were taken over by the county: Does it work? Are services being adequately delivered? Are recipient needs being met? How have these decisions impacted local communities? Actions are taken and there is no oversight after commitments are made. I will make sure your county legislature does its job and keeps promises it makes to you.

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past year. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

First of all, all indications from the Resource Recovery Agency’s recent actions appear to suggest that it has lost sight of its mission, hauling trash and wide-ranging recycling efforts. The legislature needs to provide better supervision and help it redirect efforts so as to ensure it works toward fulfilling the mission of comprehensive countywide solid waste management. I’ll make sure that agency gets a thorough examination and revitalization using authority vested with the legislature. The IDA situation is a bit more complex, because the IDA’s powers come from the state, not the county, although the county legislature appoints the membership. I will introduce a bill in the legislature in support of local proposals that IDAs may not grant a PILOT unless a majority of the affected municipalities and school districts support it. I will also propose that the IDA undertake a review of all Ulster County town and village Master Plans so as to not act in conflict with any municipality’s goals and their ability to pursue them. And I will insist that we review all appointments, with a keen eye toward conflict of interest. If the State of New York requires us to have an IDA, at the very least we must assure the public that its membership is independent and acting in the public interest alone.

 

James Delaune.

James Delaune.

James Delaune

What skills or experience of yours qualifies you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

I have a strong background in both the public and private sectors. I spent 20 years running a successful community and economic development office for a small city, and nine years as the executive director of a county wide land trust, in addition to consulting for private businesses. The nature of my experience has been to break down institutional and geographic barriers to advance projects that benefit the community. My long list of successful projects in both of these areas can be attributed to reaching across organizations in order to build consensus and achieve common goals. I hope to have the opportunity to bring my experience, skill sets and interdisciplinary perspective to the legislature.

My time spent in public service provided an opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from the expansion of business opportunities and job creation to development of workforce housing and revitalization of aging infrastructure. All of the projects helped to improve a struggling community and offer opportunities for local residents. I am most proud of helping to establish a satellite community college in an extremely distressed urban setting, which has provided new opportunities to hundreds of students and their families. My public service experience allowed me to work cooperatively with diverse stakeholders from the local community, businesses, government and private sector, and left me with an even stronger understanding that public service and consensus building are critical to improving and supporting our communities.

I now serve as executive director for an organization that has protected and now stewards nearly 5,000 acres of land with high conservation values, including farmland, ridge lines and river corridors. This organization, located in Orange County, is one of the very few land trusts that actually receives an annual county allocation of funding for the work we do. As a result of the confidence the county has placed in my organization, I work closely with the county executive, planning department, the county legislature, state and federal officials, municipalities, land owners and local community groups. Along with this work experience, my local volunteer service as chair of the New Paltz Clean Water and Open Space Protection Commission and advisor to the village in the creation of a revolving loan program has led to my interest in taking my public service to the next level by representing my community as a county legislator. I believe that I can continue and expand upon the tremendous work of our current representative, Ken Wishnick, who has decided not to run for re-election.

Ulster County has great opportunities and challenges facing it on sometimes overlapping issues like public health, infrastructure, economic development, job creation and environmental conservation. I have managed change and leveraged opportunities related to business expansion while staying mindful of the environmental impact of these actions, and this balance is critical to ensure our community’s long-term economic and environmental sustainability. My experience in strategic planning and developing partnerships will help strengthen Ulster County’s role as a regional player now and into the future.

 

Describe what the county legislature does and how it impacts the residents of your district.

Since the creation of the Ulster County Charter nearly ten years ago, the legislature’s primary responsibilities are to set policy, appropriates funds and provide oversight of county operations. The legislature is tasked with ensuring that its policies and programs are implemented and adhere to a high standard of fiscally responsibility and accountability. As residents of Ulster County, we rely on county government to maintain critical county infrastructure, such as roads and bridges as well as protect public health and safety. In addition, the county funds and administers essential services to those most at risk, including our seniors, veterans and youth. The legislature is also in the unique position of setting comprehensive environmental policies as it has done with its ban on polystyrene packing, passage of a neighborhood pesticide notification law and leadership in becoming the first carbon neutral county government in New York State. Ulster County has truly taken a leadership role in these areas, but there is more work to do.

It is vital that we progress, while at the same time being mindful to not overburden our residents and businesses through escalating taxes and fees. Ulster County has led in this regard as well. The county was named fourth in the state in terms of financial stability while it has lowered county taxes in the past few years. This can be attributed to effective management by our current county executive and legislature. We must continue to look for ways to reduce taxes and create sustainable businesses that support our communities. The legislature plays a key role in ensuring that our tax dollars are used wisely and efficiently.

 

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past years. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

In the case of both agencies, I believe that these agencies have not satisfied their core missions. First, the IDA has a tool chest of available programs to assist and attract businesses to our community, but it needs to strike the right balance between supporting business development, ensuring performance (job creation) and respecting the needs of our local communities. Giving away public incentives without this balance is simply not a responsible approach to economic development. I would oppose any IDA incentives, for projects like the proposed CVS/5 Guys projects in the Town of New Paltz, which adds little to our community and competes with locally owned small businesses who have supported our community for years. The IDA focus should be on creating higher-paying jobs and sustainable businesses in New Paltz, and it is the legislature’s role to ensure that the IDA is composed of members who consider the bests interests of our community. Given my background in economic development and environmental protection, I will be vigilant in ensuring that responsible decisions are made.

In the case of the Resource Recovery Agency, there is a lack of vision and absence of sustained commitment to reduce our waste impacts as the county ships our waste more than 200 miles to sit in a landfill. The original contract was put out to bid in 1999 and has since been renewed over and over again. The legislature has been exploring options and we need to evaluate all alternative options for finding cost effective and environmentally responsible solutions to our solid waste issues. The RRA is a public benefit corporation whose function is to develop, finance and implement a county-wide solid management program. We need as a county to be examining a more sustainable approach in dealing with our waste stream, including greatly expanded efforts to reduce, recycle, reuse and compost. The solutions might go well beyond the town or county level and require a regional initiative, which would be a priority of mine to examine and develop.

 

 

District 9 (Lloyd, Plattekill)

 

Herbert-Litts-III.

Herbert Litts III.

Herbert Litts III (Incumbent)

What skills or experience of yours qualify you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

My public service employment, as well as my community service, started right after college, some 38 years ago. I worked 25 years for the New York State Department of Transportation, in various engineering positions and eight-and-a-half years for the New York State Thruway Authority as the assistant division director for engineering services for the New York division before going into the private sector. I have been a licensed professional engineer in the State of New York for over 33 years. My current position is that of the lead engineer for the acceptance of the multi-billion dollar new Tappan Zee Bridge. My 38 years of community service started on the Planning Board in the Town of Lloyd, and I have served on several boards, including the Zoning Board of Appeals, Economic Development Committee and Town Board before becoming a county legislator representing District #9.

 

Describe what the county legislature does, and how it impacts the residents of your district.

A lot of what the legislature does deals with fiscal responsibilities of running the county. Most expenditures are mandated by federal and state mandates, but some fall on the 100% county share. So, as a legislature, we need to smartly grow our tax base through economic development which balances commercial and residential growth and not shift the lion’s share of the tax burden to the people of our county. Our county residents should not have to leave our county due to their inability to keep up with their taxes.

 

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past year. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

All of the county’s agencies should be held accountable for their actions. To that end, they should report out regularly to the appropriate legislative committee that is responsible.

 

Jonathan Ridgeway.

Jonathan Ridgeway.

Jonathan Ridgeway

What skills or experience of yours qualify you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

I retired after 34 years of career public service, 20 as a senior level project manager at NYC-DEP. My time is my own. I have decades of proven leadership experience making government programs work for the people, particularly in areas of operations and financial management, capital planning and capital projects. I have been elected to serve for a decade or longer on a variety of deliberative non-profit boards, including Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York’s Fraunces Tavern Museum Board of Managers since 2002 and Queens Community Board 11 (ten years) and especially as president of such bodies including Westmoreland (property owners) Association Board of Directors (17 years) and Little Neck Community Association Board of Directors (ten years). I am well versed in parliamentary procedure, which makes me well qualified to effectively and productively participate in the order of business. I have well-established working relationships with most of my town’s and county’s elected public officials.

 

Describe what the county legislature does and how it impacts the residents of your district.

The legislature has the power to enact or amend the laws, appropriations, budgets and taxation in the county. Each legislator has the duty to perform those functions to benefit the quality of life for everyone in the county with particular emphasis on the electorate in their own district, in my case, western Lloyd and Clintondale, in the Town of Plattekill, virtually all in the Black Creek tributary watershed. I want to work with the legislature and town officials and various agencies to procure economic development money for projects and programs that improve our towns and benefit our taxpayers, money that does not come out of the pockets of our people or our reserve funds. I have vast experience finding innovative solutions to problems like this.

 

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past year. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

Resource Recovery and Industrial Development are essentially autonomous “shadow government” regulatory agencies empowered to set rules, including flow control, that impose unnecessary costs which are passed from the county and towns or other jurisdictions to the property taxpayers. I am supportive of comptroller’s office audits of these agencies, and I want to sponsor and support resolutions based on their findings. I want to seek and support appointments of well-qualified potential members who, on the basis of their merits, demonstrate a background in serving the public good.

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District 10 (Lloyd, Marlborough)

 

Mary Beth Maio.

Mary Beth Maio.

Mary Beth Maio (Incumbent)

What skills or experience of yours qualify you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

I am the branch manager/vice president of Wallkill Valley Federal Savings & Loan bank in Milton, and I sit on the board of the Southern Ulster Chamber of Commerce. With my 25 years of banking experience, my accounting degree and ties to the community, I look to make the best decisions for the county and most importantly for the towns I represent.

 

Describe what the county legislature does and how it impacts the residents of your district.

A county legislator in Ulster County serves a two-year term. Overall, a legislator sets policy for the county. Through policy, we approve contracts and make local laws. The legislature also reviews and approves the county budget. We have completed several budgets with no county tax increase while continuing to run the county efficiently.

 

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past year. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

The Resource Recovery Agency’s budget seems to be the biggest issue regarding this agency. This has greatly improved with the implementation of flow control. This has alleviated the need for the county to subsidize the RRA. Flow control will also provide for a better environment for the residents of Ulster County.

The Industrial Development Agency has the important role of advancing Ulster County. This includes attracting new businesses, as well as retaining existing businesses through programs and tax incentives. I believe with the current board, we have picked a diverse group of people who will follow the mission of the IDA.

 

Gary Pregno.

Gary Pregno.

Gary Pregno

What skills or experience of yours qualify you to be a county legislator? Please include both public and private experience, if appropriate.

I have over 30 years as a business professional. I’ve owned two businesses, a restaurant and industrial supply. The last 20 years I worked for a Fortune 500 company as a professional account manager. The companies I worked with are throughout Ulster County. The improvements made them more productive, proficient and profitable. Locally, I have been on the town Economic Development Committee for four terms, with many accomplishments.

 

Describe what the county legislature does and how it impacts the residents of your district.

The legislator should be and advocate for the town. Advise on local issues. Make sure your town is represented on issues that affect all the residents. Bring back to the residents the benefits that are available to them.

The Resource Recovery just came up with a new plan to operate the facility. I believe we need give them time to see how this works.

 

Both the Resource Recovery Agency and the Industrial Development Agency, to which the legislature appoints members, have had friction with other stakeholders in the past year. As a legislator, how would you address concerns about those agencies?

Everyone has different visions on how these agencies function. I would like to better understand this before I make any comments.

 

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