For Hurley Democratic candidate supervisor Tracey Kellogg, currently making her third bid for the office, this year’s election is about getting her party and independent voters to come out and vote on local government, and not just sit back complaining about national political issues. It’s all about raising the bar for the town’s governance similar to its neighbors in Kingston, Marbletown, and Woodstock, where she was supervisor for two terms in the 1990s.
For John Perry, the Republican candidate for supervisor, this year offers a chance for him to “toss his hat in” with a town he’s admired since a boy, moved to nearly 15 years ago, and speaks about in terms of returning to earlier glory days that he remembers from a quarter century ago. He sees the position he seeks as a next step from involvement in the town’s assessment and zoning boards, its recreation committee, and his years of community service coaching high school football and Little League, and a means of addressing persistent problems in more rural stretches of the town.
The November 7 election will represent the first time in over two decades that retiring GOP supervisor Gary Bellows has not been on the ballot.
Former supervisor Mike Shultis, the man who broke up Bellows’ 22 years in office for a single term, will be joining Kellogg on the Democratic line as he seeks Hurley’s highway superintendent position on November 7. As with the supervisor’s spot, it’s been left open as its longtime GOP holder, Clyde Russell, decided not to seek another term for health reasons (although he has reportedly left open the door for a future town council run in the coming years). Shultis faced Russell two years ago; he is facing Lee Winne of Old Hurley on the GOP line.
Facing off for town council will be longstanding Republican incumbents Barbara Zell and Janet Briggs against Democratic candidates Jasmine Jordaan and Michael Boms. Neither of the town’s justices are up for election this election. Town clerk Judy Mayhon, a Democrat, will be seeking her 6th term unchallenged.
“It does seem like I’m a glutton for punishment,” said Kellogg in an interview about her third run for supervisor. “But the old guard is shifting by moving out or leaving by other means and younger Democrats and independent voters are moving into both Old Hurley and West Hurley. The town needs a qualified town supervisor and I feel I’m qualified. My campaign is about better management and more open government.”
“30 years ago I started working at the Hurley Mountain Inn, and found the town to be pretty thriving at that time,” said 40 year old Perry, who runs Signature Fitness, a personal training service, in his native Kingston. “When it came time for me to buy a home for my family, I decided to move us to Hurley, where I reconnected with many of the people I’d met earlier in my life, many of whom were now politicians. They got me involved.”
Kellogg, who served as Woodstock supervisor between 1995 and 1999 with one term as a Republican after several years as a town board member and, before that, a member of the Woodstock planning board, is a graduate of the former Ulster Academy, earned her B.A. at SUNY Albany and her law degree from the Western New England College of Law in Springfield, MA. She and her husband, Eric Brown, have three children and have lived in West Hurley for 16 years. She will also appear on the Working Families and Green party lines as well as the Democratic line.
Perry, a 15-year Hurley resident who will appear on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, served as Hurley assessor in 2009. He’s a Kingston High School graduate who currently serves as vice president of the Kingston Uptown Business Association, an assistant varsity football coach at Kingston High School and a member of the Hurley Recreation Board. He and his wife, Dominique Musialkiewicz, have three children.
Both candidates spoke about the need for better cellular and cable coverage for parts of town that still have only dial up Internet service, although only Kellogg noted the fact that Hurley has never set up its own cable commission to negotiate agreements. Both also spoke about how Hurley has no true center, and seems split between its Old Hurley and West Hurley halves. Perry talks about how he’s been going door to door this campaign season, speaking about “community unity” and creating a “one town feel.” Kellogg said the town needs a means of getting its residents re-focused on local issues, and politics, with future debates and meet the candidate events, and more public outreach.
Town board, highway superintendent
Shultis, in addition to having served as Hurley supervisor, is currently president & CEO of CMK Tech LLC, an alcohol testing and monitoring company distributing smartphone breathalyzers, and has maintained a firewood business throughout the Catskills for decades, for which he has “built and maintained numerous logging roads.” Winne is owner of LW Tree Service, based in Hurley (for which it has been contracted to do work over the years), and served with the Olive fire department for years before joining the Hurley fire department more recently. He has noted that his brother would take over his business should he be elected highway superintendent.
For town council, Zell is a retired teacher’s assistant in the Kingston School District seeking her fourth nonconsecutive term on the GOP, Independence and Conservative party lines, while Briggs, a native of the town who works as a teaching assistant at Onteora and originally ran as a Democrat, is seeking her fourth term, also on the R, I and C lines. Boms is a former Onteora teacher who is now a biology professor at SUNY New Paltz and Mt. Saint Mary’s College in Newburgh, and Jordaan is a local realtor and attorney with work experience in large corporate and litigation firms, as well as the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, who is married to a current Onteora teacher.
The GOP council candidates are speaking about “zombie houses,” and new zoning laws governing things to include cell towers, solar arrays and the regulation of short term rentals as key issues. The Democratic candidates are speaking about encouraging alternative energy, building a community center for the town and its youth, and ensuring the town park on Dug Hill is used for more than a transfer station and dump. All candidates are speaking, like the tops of their tickets, about bettering the town’s cellular and cable services.
Whereas it used to be that Hurley was solidly Republican, recent elections have seen Democrats running within a couple of hundred votes of Republicans, Kellogg’s races growing more competitive, and presidential elections turning solidly Democrat, especially in the more rural stretches of the town.
According to Kellogg, the coming election comes down to getting more than the town’s older, traditionally Republican voters out this Election Day. It’s about motivating younger residents to look at politics beyond national news feeds, without any polarizing local issues. “I can’t run against Donald Trump,” she said. “Local elections, to me, are important. They dramatically effect our lives. They’re about managing our towns as best they can be managed.”
Perry said that he started campaigning door to door in Old Hurley, where he knew many people, and will now be moving on to West Hurley. “Two hours each night,” he said. “People keep talking about needing the ability to access social media. Kinda crazy, huh?”
“This will be my last campaign,” added Kellogg.
“If it keeps raining like they say it’ll be raining, I’ll spend my two hours tonight out front of the post office,” noted Perry.