Newly elected Saugerties councilman, 26, doesn’t lack for ideas

John Schoonmaker

John Schoonmaker may be the youngest member of the Saugerties town board in history. After graduating from Saugerties High School in 2010, he studied biology at Siena College. He did volunteer work for Bernie Sanders’ Get Out the Vote initiative last year and canvassed for Zephyr Teachout’s campaign in 2016.

The work in political organizing seems to have unleashed the 26-year-old Schoonmaker’s inner wonk. His campaign emphasized the need for the cleanup of the Esopus Creek in conjunction with the DEP, the consolidation of village and town services to lower tax rates, and weekly office hours to foster public involvement in town matters.

His win on November 7 was unexpected. “It took my breath away when I had to look at the numbers on election night,” he said. “I was the underdog.”

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He doesn’t lack for ideas. “Some of the things I’d really want to get tackled would be to get that coalition of towns and nonprofits together for environmental issues,” he said. “I’d like to talk to other towns to see how they’re keeping costs down and working together to find what solutions they’re using.”

He thinks greater transparency, such as from making documentation related to town matters more available, should be a priority. “I went to a budget meeting, and the actual budget proposal wasn’t up until a week afterward. That isn’t something that should be been overlooked.”

He’s task-oriented. “As an administration, we need to get together and decide what points we want to work towards,” he said. “There’s only so much time and resources to get everything done, so it’s definitely going to be a collaboration in figuring out the best path to go forward together as a team because we only have so much time to accomplish things. Some of the things that we campaigned on might be more realistic, some might be more difficult and might have to sit on the backburner until a more opportune time comes for them.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Thethirdeye

    Not really sure what the ideas are Christine? You’re headline is misleading. I see no specifics in this article. Just the same ole BS tag lines like newly elect Supervisor says. A lot of words no real plan!

    1. Totally not a disgruntled former board member

      I disagree with the substance of your comment, though not the spirit.

      It’s vanishingly rare for a local councilman to do anything interesting. Soon he’ll be shipped off to new board member education camp, courtesy of NYS, where he’ll learn that he doesn’t really have any power. At least 3/4 of the budget is personnel with ironclad contracts, anything that costs more than $5000 was probably funded with a grant that specifies what you can and can’t do. Anything else you might want to do could cause a lawsuit, so you have to ask the town attorney, and he’ll say “don’t know, maybe.” Unless you want to be responsible for potentially costing taxpayers millions, you don’t do it.

      What’s left? Meeting to approve bill payments, budgets, meeting behind closed doors to talk about potential lawsuits or the long drawn-out process required to remove incompetent town employees, trying to get businesses to locate in your town.

      Saugerties in general is a low-energy town board so I don’t think he’ll have to worry much about there being too much to deal with.

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