They say all publicity is good publicity. Is it possible that the committee to shitcan Ken Panza, or whatever it called itself, and has made a lightning rod out of the incumbent Democrat running on the Republican line, galvanized his support and could thrust him over the finish line in either first or second place?
The other candidates for the two seats, Janine Fallon-Mower, Laura Ricci and the seemingly inexhaustible Jay Wenk have rightly repudiated the ad, had absolutely nothing to do with it, and have had to fend off the easily misperceived notion that they were involved. You should know that they weren’t.
Such is Woodstock, and its election season.
And our role in it? Well, campaign ads are campaign ads, some are tough and negative, and the people named in them are public figures, open to criticism. You want to be nice? Go to High Tea at Mohonk. But I’ll send you over to Hugh Reynolds’ column on Page 25 for his take on an almost astonishing twist to this episode.
I like and admire the candidates for town board, all four of them. Janine Fallon-Mower is compassionate, informed and ready to serve. Jay Wenk is tested, feisty, yet cooperative, willing to put himself out there. Laura Ricci has been in the trenches of the Planning Board and has put in her time as Deputy Supervisor, without a vote. But for me — and I know my Stop Smart Meters Woodstock friends won’t like this — Ken Panza is a nose out front, analyzing issues, willing to update them when new items are pointed out, sticking to his views and backing them up. Second choice is up to you.
For town supervisor, Jeremy Wilber is the choice. Nancy Schauffler has done a good job making her case (see profiles, Pages 10 and 11.) But the fact remains that Jeremy has kept Woodstock fiscally straight, prudent, beating the tax cap every year, at the same time as the town has completed renovations to the Town Hall, Community Center and Highway Garage.
And let’s dismiss those complaints about how the general fund tax levy can increase and the highway tax can increase, yet how do we still make the tax cap? The fact is that the tax cap applies to the levy for the entire budget, including special districts, such as the water and sewer. Your revenues may increase, if you, for instance make more money on tourist parking, or your mortgage tax income exceeds your projections.
The tax cap applies to the bottom line, how much comes out of your pocket. This year, it’s less than a one percent increase. There are enough restrictions on the budget, mandated items, things that can’t be controlled, such as the amount paid into the state retirement system (which is down this year, thanks to state investments), and with the tax cap, so don’t go trying to make every fund comply. That’s not the law. Some funds go up, some come down. It’s the supervisor’s job to find the balance, and that Jeremy Wilber has done.
The longtime supervisor knows his job and his community. The old adage, one that I remember having difficulty learning, is that the more you do, the more political capital you spend. Each accomplishment has its cost, someone who supported you inevitably doesn’t like it, and your base chips away. Wilber’s support has perhaps instead solidified and the community is better for it.
Locally, Jackie Earley and Mike Reynolds do their jobs in fine fashion. That they have no challengers is not surprising, as it is widely known.
Somebody in the letters didn’t like that I joked about Jon Heppner not shaving yet. But I’ve had long, sometimes endless political and historical conversations with him and support him strongly. Which is good, as he has no opponent. But I will be very proud and confident to have him as my, and our, representative on the county legislature.
(Switching over to the royal We, for this one)
For county executive, we endorse the incumbent, Democrat Mike Hein. Yes, we’ve had our beefs with the executive over the years, and we still get upset when he springs actions on us, fully formed and ready for implementation without having pulled anyone into the process, or allowing for a public dialogue…one example being the sale of the Golden Hill nursing facility. We’d also like it if he would allow better access to the people in his administration who perform the nuts and bolts work, rather than having to pull information that’s been filtered up through his top down administration and sanitized into sparklingly rhetorical press releases. And we do kinda like trains…
But the fact remains that this county, under Hein, is governed far better that it ever was, at least since the 1960s when the old Board of Supervisors gave way to a legislature form of government. Fiscally, he has put Ulster on to solid footing, not an easy thing to do with the governor’s tax cap breathing down your neck, and after the last legislature’s jail debacle socked everyone with a 39 percent tax increase one year. He has actually lowered county taxes and brought a sensible approach to spending.
He’s been a friend to Veterans, backing the Patriot’s Project, transitional housing for homeless vets, and creating the Vets Memorial at the county office building. He orchestrated the conversion of the Sophie Finn Elementary School, no longer of use to the Kingston School District, into an adjunct campus for SUNY Ulster…
His opponent Terry Bernardo has been unconvincing, though she aimed at what might be perceived as vulnerabilities in the Hein armor over the lack of economic development (the county does appear to be stalled in its efforts) and his conflict with the Catskill Mountain Railroad, which successfully brought holiday rail attractions and pleased businesses. This former legislature chairwoman has not made the case for replacing the current exec.
So, we hope he’ll excuse us if we continue to be critical when we see fit, as he has few critics in the audience. We’ll look forward to his next term.
Sylvia Rozzelle is one of the best town supervisors around. She really knows what’s going on in her town and how to deal with it. Doesn’t matter that she’s got no opponent. She’s endorsed anyway.
I’d like to see Drew Boggess get a chance at the Olive Town Board. Otherwise the town seems to function well.
Tough town board race to call. Don Brewer is a capable guy, a planner and surveyor, who likes bluegrass. I’ve known Russ Roefs for some 40 years now, probably still owe a tab at the Watering Troff, he’s a level headed business person. I thought restaurant owner Peter DiSclafani did a good job in his term as town supervisor. Don’t know Gael Alba, but she’s involved in saving lives. Randy Ostrander wants better services for his tax money. All have some reckoning to do in a town that has real growth opportunities (Festival of the Voice, airbnb), but snubbed a free sewer system in its Phoenicia hamlet.
I can’t imaging what would make Tracey Kellogg want to be a town supervisor again, but since she does, I believe she’d be a good one. Perhaps it’s time to change things around in Hurley…but I seem to say that each election and it doesn’t seem to happen. There are really two Hurleys — Old Hurley, connected to Kingston and West Hurley, closer to us. They’re different and the twain don’t seem to meet.
Election day is Tuesday, November 3. The polling places are listed in this issue. Get out and have your say. It’s your time.
I’m done talking. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m sure you will.