Town councilman and lifelong Saugerties resident Paul Andreassen announced March 2 his intentions of running for town supervisor this November.
“I’m running for town supervisor because I’m not certain of the direction the town is heading,” Andreassen wrote in an email. “A change in priorities would be the first step. … The residents of Saugerties are not naïve — they know the difference between frivolous and necessary spending.”
Andreassen, 63, was elected to the town board in 2017 on the Democratic, Conservative and Independence party lines, leading all four town council candidates in votes. During his time on the board, Andreassen, a former town building inspector and an enrolled member of the Independence Party, has advocated for fiscal responsibility and supported environmental causes.
“[I will] be seeking the endorsement of all major parties as well as the support of those enrolled and non-enrolled voters throughout Saugerties in the general election. People, not politics,” Andreassen wrote.
Among Andreassen’s aims for the position, he wrote, are to further analyze the benefits and pitfalls of further consolidating town and village services, attracting viable business to Saugerties and to make the Kings Highway corridor more attractive to business.
“Are we doing enough to attract new businesses and retain existing ones? As town supervisor I would network with various entities to enable potential employers to relocate here and work to promote our taxpayer-funded ‘shovel ready’ sites on the Kings Highway corridor and encourage the use and re-use of many of the existing vacant structures,” he wrote. “We invested a lot of money in infrastructure, especially on Kings Highway, and there must be a way of encouraging developers to come here. What’s the return on our investment? Your investment? What are we not doing? We’ve been working on amending the zoning on Kings Highway for over a year. I’ve been pushing for this to pass but it has stalled due to legal issues. We’ll continue to work on this and all land use concerns.”
Andreassen, a Malden-on-Hudson resident, has served as building inspector for the towns of Saugerties, New Paltz, Woodstock and Ulster. Andreassen is also a “badged” building inspector with FEMA, through which he recently assessed damage to homes in Houston and Miami after Hurricane Harvey, and a state Department of State instructor for courses on code compliance. Andreassen is the leader of the Paul Luke Band, for which he has written and performed an estimated 400 songs. He and his wife Claudia, a Saugerties town justice, have three children and three grandchildren between them. His stepson, Crispin Kott, is a writer for Ulster Publishing/Hudson Valley One.
Incumbent supervisor Fred Costello Jr., who won election in 2017 on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence party lines, said March 4 that he intends to run for re-election.
“I’m not surprised [Andreassen is running], but I welcome it.” said Costello of the political challenge. “It’s the democratic process — I’m not going to change who I am. I am very honored to have the opportunity to represent Saugerties. I have done my very best, and I believe we have articulated a future for our community that is relevant to what residents expect. If there is an alternative vision that the residents want, that is their right.”
As his proudest achievements during his tenure as town supervisor, Costello touted the implementation of an employee handbook for town employees, a “transformative document” which he said “brings clarity, especially where contracts do not apply.” Under Costello’s supervision, the town has moved to an entirely digitized accounting system, negotiated multiyear contracts with five entities of town employees, achieved its first A-plus credit rating in its history (previously, the town scored an A-minus) and finally begun the long-discussed Bristol Beach project. (Costello said rudimentary space for parking and trails will be cleared in the coming months.)
Costello has undertaken a slew of green initiatives in office, including the acquisition of two municipal electric vehicles, the town’s designation as a Climate Smart Community, the establishment of the Conservation Advisory Commission and the Climate Smart Committee and steps toward building a solar array at the town’s transfer station. He said that his time thus far as town supervisor has been “rewarding,” “gratifying” and “an honor,” despite a handful of unprecedented challenges.
“Not many people can tell you the last time Saugerties had a tornado. Not on many occasions do you lose a member of town government with the profile of Judge Lamb,” he said. “I am proud of how the town board handled finding a replacement … We also had some extraordinary snowstorms, the largest power outage in town history, and we had a specific portion of the town without power for four days. I’m proud of the response we were able to muster for that — emergency services, fire departments, Central Hudson. People had the resources to stay fed, warm and showered. The last year was eventful in many ways, and hopefully we don’t suffer those things again.”
Among his visions for a second term as town supervisor include further zoning changes to attract businesses to Saugerties and improve traffic safety, particularly at the town’s southbound Thruway entrance. He hopes to shepherd the newly founded animal shelter committee to acquire enough funds for a total replacement of the standing animal shelter building, establish a dog park within the town and “bringing the town as close to having [their] cake and eating it too” by achieving a 65 percent renewable energy rate.
“I’m very optimistic for the future. There’s things we could do to save money, to improve our residents’ quality of life, to improve the safety of our community and the infrastructure,” said Costello. “We’re rife with opportunity and I think in some ways the events we had this year make us better able to serve the community next year as well.”