Supervisor unchallenged in Olive; town board and justice seats contested
With Democratic supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle unchallenged in seeking her second term in the November 3 election, the focus of the race turns to the town board, where incumbent Republicans Peter J. Friedel of West Shokan and Donnie VanBuren of Boiceville square off against Democrats, the longstanding planning board chairman Drew Boggess, who ran unsuccessfully for the same position two years ago, and Bill Melvin, a retired Onteora teacher now working as a ski instructor at Belleayre Ski Center as director of an adaptive program for disabled skiers.
Friedel, a member of the Olive Fire Department, is an Olive First Aid emergency medical technician, says “We have to get this town back on track and all these Democrats want is bigger government and bigger control by the government.”
Boggess, a member of the town’s Flood Advisory Committee and the Central Catskill Collaborative which helped push through the Route 28 Scenic Byway, says he has a passion for doing things according to the law. When the law is unclear or poorly defined, he says, he seeks a compromise with those coming before him.
VanBuren, a member of the Olive Fire Department and the Onteora Sports Fans booster club, says “I will be an open minded conservative and make decisions based on what is best for our town.”
Melvin, who has been on the Olive Rec Committee for 15 years, for which he’s managed the town’s swimming pool for the last three years, says “There’s a lot we can still do with local flood mitigation. We need to reduce the impact of these disasters.”
With the retirement of 20 year Democratic town justice Ron Wright, a four year town justice position will also be contested. Running for Olive Democrats will be Tanya Davis, a West Shokan resident since 2001 who graduated Albany Law School in 2010 and currently serves on the Onteora School Board. She will face John Kurz, a lifelong Olive resident and town policeman of 20 years, in the November election.
Bellows, Kellogg square off again
Incumbent Republican supervisor Gary Bellows, currently finishing his 20th nonconsecutive year at the head of Hurley government, will be challenged for the second time in two elections by former Woodstock town supervisor Tracy Kellogg, now of West Hurley.
The rematch tops the ticket in the town in an election that pits Republican incumbents John Gill and John Dittus against Democratic challengers Griffith Liewa and Evan Matthews in the race for the two town board seats.
And in a contest for Hurley highway superintendent, Republican/Conservative Clyde Russell goes up against former town supervisor Mike Shultis.
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.
Kellogg listed her concerns. “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…the same campaign issues exist as last time I ran; not much has changed in Hurley which, in some ways is the issue.”
Bellows saw the state’s still-lowering tax cap as a major challenge, and pointed out that expensive state mandates have not diminished. “Apart from that, we’ve been very good at keeping the town out of debt, and out of fiscal stress of any kind,” he said. “I hope this is something the people feel I do well. 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.”
Liewa want to make 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.” Dittus is all about keeping taxes down, and maintaining Hurley as a “no-frills operation.” Gill looks to drainage and roads as among the infrastructure concerns, and Matthews wants to establish an emergency control center for the town, while he helps to unite the town.
Shandaken races for town board, assessor
The November 3 election will present Shandaken voters with choices for two town council seats and two assessor positions. For town council, the Republicans are backing Don Brewer and Russell Roefs, the Democrats are running Gael Alba and Pete DiSclafani, and the Conservatives selected Randy Ostrander. Assessor candidates are Fionna Tanzillo and Dave Channon for the Democrats, Jeff Feldman and John Horn for the Republicans. Incumbents running unopposed are supervisor Rob Stanley, town clerk Joyce Grant, and highway superintendent Eric Hofmeister.
The council race is hotly contested, as both parties seek to fill the seats left vacant by outgoing Republicans Vin Bernstein and Alfie Higley.
In a recent Woodstock Times interview, Brewer, a Republican, cited his background as a land surveyor, small business owner, certified floodplain manager, and college professor, as well as past service on the Rosendale town board and present position as chair of the Shandaken planning board. He feels the main issue facing the town is the economy. “The town’s hurting, and I would like to figure out ways of improving that without compromising the character of the town,” Brewer stated. He has already organized a twice-monthly business leadership breakfast in Phoenicia and would like to start a business mentoring program for local youth.
Democrat Gael Alba is a registered nurse and former business owner, and she has volunteered with local organizations such as the PTA and Festival of the Voice. “In my line of work,” said Alba, “we have to gather information, assess the situation, work as a team, and make decisions for the life of the patient and the quality of life of that patient. Those principles I would take into being a councilperson, to come out with the best results for quality of life and growth of the town.” Her concerns for Shandaken are sustainable growth, the health and safety of streams, and Phoenicia’s aging water system.
Conservative candidate Randy Ostrander is a third-generation Shandaken resident who says his work ethic and deep knowledge of local infrastructure will serve the town well. He worked for Phoenicia Water District for 30 years and is a lifetime member of the fire department. “I do not believe we get the services we are paying taxes for,” said Ostrander. “Taxes go up every year, and services are less. Thousands of dollars are wasted in Shandaken. There’s a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be done, and the board needs to be watching over it. I’m willing to work and pay attention to what goes on.”
Peter DiSclafani, a Democrat, is a former Shandaken supervisor and has also served on the town board. Owner of the Mount Tremper restaurant Catskill Rose since 1987, he’s a member of the ambulance and a volunteer fireman. “I have a good fiscal understanding of the town and of running a business,” he stated. “There are times to put your foot forward and do something, and I think it’s my time again. In my business, sometimes things happen fast, and decisions have to be made quickly, but with town government, things need to be thought out, lots of different ideas thrown around and considered. A thoughtful approach needs to be taken.”
Republican Russell Roefs has 50 years of business experience, has represented Shandaken in the Ulster County legislature, is a 23-year member of Rotary International, and served in Vietnam. He feels it’s important to address the Phoenicia water system and the lack of a sewer system. He’s also concerned about the economy. “I’m interested in seeing good productive businesses that allow our young people a place to make a living so they don’t have to leave town,” said Roefs. “We don’t do anything to promote more businesses. We also need to pull in the reins on spending. I feel the town isn’t thinking forward enough.”
– Violet Snow