Three candidates are vying to be the next supervisor in the Town of New Paltz. Seeking the two-year post in the November 3 election are Democratic candidate Neil Bettez, Republican nominee Robert Gabrielli and Jeff Logan, who is mounting a write-in campaign after the Women’s Equality Party was not allowed on the ballot. The winner will succeed supervisor Susan Zimet, who announced in June that she would not seek a new term.
Bettez is a first-time candidate who defeated Logan for the Democratic nomination. He is registered with the Working Families Party. Bettez is a science professor at Bard College and a visiting scientist at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. He is a member of the Village New Paltz Shade Tree Commission and the Wallkill River Watershed Association.
If elected, Bettez said his top priority is to work with the comptroller to determine if more cuts can be found in the 2016 budget, which will have been approved under Supervisor Zimet. His second priority is to work with the Village Board on water and sewer issues and the third will be to continue working on the joint master plan with the village.
Gabrielli was appointed to serve an unexpired term on the Town Board in the 1990s and is not registered as a member of a political party. He recently retired as Deputy Inspector General at the state Office of the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General, and also served as a New Paltz police officer. He was an original member of the New Paltz Clean Water and Open Space Committee.
If elected, Gabrielli said his top priority is to “reassure the board, the staff and the committee members that we are all on the same team and need to work together.” His second priority is to reach out to community members to solicit ideas and volunteers, and his third priority is to address the traffic issues in the town.
Logan has been a member of the Town Council since 2009, where he has two years left to serve, and is a registered Democrat. A nurse and business owner, Logan stresses his local government experience, including working on the replacement of the Town Hall and Carmine Liberta Bridge, exploring a water district on Plains Road that would also provide an emergency supply to the village and negotiating contracts with the various unions.
If elected, Logan’s first priority will be to continue the work he has been doing on water and sewer in the community. His second priority is to continue the work on the infrastructure with the village and county officials and the third is to continue working on the joint master plan with the village.
Three candidates are seeking to fill the two seats on the Town Council which are up this year in New Paltz. Seeking four-year terms on the board are Marty Irwin and Julie Seyfert Lillis on the Democratic line and Ray Lunati as the sole candidate endorsed by the Republicans for this position. The seats are presently occupied by Irwin, who was appointed to complete the term started by Jean Gallucci, who left citing work obligations and later returned to become the first comptroller for the town, and Kevin Barry, who is not seeking a second term.
Irwin, who was a developer and owner of senior-citizen housing prior to retiring in 2002, chaired the Clean Water & Open Space Protection Commission before being appointed to the Town Council. He has since taken the lead on replacing the moldering Town Hall with a new municipal center, and has continued to support the new Mill Brook Preserve, creation of which was a priority for him as a member of CWOSP.
Irwin sees the approval of the 2016 budget as a top concern, and expects that the goal of a balanced budget will occupy much of his time and energy through November. He lists the municipal center’s creation as another of biggest challenges facing the town, as well as preserving the town’s natural environment into the future.
Seyfert Lillis, a first-time candidate, was a researcher on the Sesame Street program for ten years and brings those analytical and managerial skills to her bid for office. She has worked on the development of the Mill Brook Preserve, and helped coalesce opposition to the proposed CVS at the town’s eastern gateway by organizing the collection of signatures on petitions against the project.
Seyfer Lillis is an advocate of both a joint master plan and a joint municipal center, and favors including more residents in local government, such as returning the Police Commission to a body of appointees who are otherwise independent from the Town Board. She has also identified infrastructure as a top concern, from water and sewer systems to the traffic on roadways, and how it is impacted by the planning process.
Lunati ran for a council seat once before unsuccessfully, and this year was appointed as an alternate member of the town’s Planning Board. He has regularly attended both town and planning board meetings since 2006, and has positioned himself as a candidate who will add integrity and respect to the position. Lunati anticipates his construction background being useful during the building of a municipal center.
Building the new Town Hall is a top priority for Lunati, given the expense of maintaining temporary space for town employees. He is also concerned with the water and sewer systems, including the creation of Water District #5 to ensure an uninterrupted supply to municipal users and building sewers to develop South Putt Corners Road. Additionally, he’d like to explore new ways to tax tourists.
Ulster County Legislature
In District 17 of the Ulster County Legislature, which includes much of New Paltz outside of the village and a portion of Esopus, two candidates are vying to replace Ken Wishnick, who is not running for reelection. Seeking a two-year term representing the area in Kingston are Democrat Jim Delaune and Republican Randall Leverette.
Delaune worked for 20 years working for a community and economic development office, and another nine directing a land trust in Orange County. During that time, he was involved in the development of workforce housing and the creation of a satellite campus for a community college. He has also served as chair of the New Paltz Clean Water and Open Space Committee, and advised village officials on the establishment of a revolving loan fund.
He sees the major roles of the county legislature as both setting policy and providing oversight, including the county’s budget. That includes overseeing critical services such as programs for at-risk populations, maintenance of county infrastructure and implementing wide-reaching environmental policy such as the ban on polystyrene packaging.
Leverette has previously run for both Town Board and supervisor. He worked in a variety of public-policy capacities in Washington, DC, and then managed public affairs regarding a number of social and advocacy issues for HBO and Disney/ABC in New York City. In New Paltz, he has served on the public access and consolidation committees, and served as chair of the Police Commission prior to the Town Board subsuming its work.
His view of the legislature is as a body that oversees issues which cross town lines, such as waste management, flooding, roads, emergency management and law enforcement; he feels that, “It is under-performing in almost all areas of its responsibility.” Agencies it supervises lack oversight, programs lack accountability and there is inadequate planning for the future needs of residents.
Running unopposed in New Paltz are town clerk Rosanna Mazzaccari, highway superintendent Chris Marx, town justice Jim Bacon and District 20 legislator Hector Rodriguez.
To read in-depth profiles about all the candidates running for office in New Paltz, visit newpaltzx.com.
Some poll sites in New Paltz moving
Many New Paltz voters who have cast their ballots at the high school will be going to another location this year, according to Board of Elections officials. Only the residents of election District 10 will continue to vote at the school, while others will now have to go to either the middle school or the community center, which will serve as a polling site for the first time. Security concerns were cited as the reason for the change.
“The election districts that we changed were based on a request from the school district,” said Republican commissioner Tom Turco. “It was to make things more secure and make the schools more comfortable.”
Democratic commissioner Vic Work added some details, saying that there were “severe concerns” regarding the high school. “We can’t cut the gym off from rest of school,” Work said. “When school’s in session, adults coming in can go in any direction in the school. For safety, we decided to try to accommodate them.”
The middle school gym, where voters from districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 will cast ballots, can be isolated from the rest of the building. Moreover, a sheriff’s deputy will be on hand to direct people. No additional security will be in place at the community center, which will host voting for districts 3 and 7. No changes are being made for voting on campus or Huguenot Street.
If you are unsure about your voting district, please call the town clerk at 255-0100.
— Terence P Ward