The Town of Olive is looking for big changes come November, albeit big in Olive’s small town way.
Sylvia Rozzelle, town supervisor since winning the office in 2013, is retiring after this year. Given that she spent 35 years as town clerk before filling long-term Democratic supervisor Berndt Leifeld’s shoes, that’s big news.
Seeking her spot on the ballot for Olive Democrats will be Jim Sofranko, currently in the middle of his second term as an Olive councilperson, and first term as one of two Ulster County representatives on the Catskill Watershed Corporation’s regional board of directors.
Seeking re-election to what would be his second term on the town board will be former planning board chair, Democrat Drew Boggess, who narrowly won his seat by a final advantage of 17 votes in 2015, while current Conservation Advisory Council member Dave Edinger has also expressed interest in seeking a four year seat as a Democrat.
An Olive Democratic Caucus has been set for the Olive Town Meeting Hall on Bostock Road in Shokan for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 16.
On the Republican side, Peter Friedel will be seeking his fourth four-year term as a councilperson, but will not be running for supervisor, as he did in 2013. As of press time, the Olive GOP had “placeholders” for the various seats up for election November 5, but none other than Friedel announced.
Town clerk Dawn Giuditta and highway superintendent Brian Burns, both Democrats, do not come back up for election until 2021.
No chance Sylvia changes her mind
“It has been a privilege to work as a town board member for five years alongside Supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle who has done an outstanding job during her tenure,” Sofranko said this week in a formal announcement of his candidacy. “I hope to continue the work that Sylvia has accomplished for our community and continue to build on her successes.”
Among those accomplishments, Sofranko listed upgrades to town buildings, parks, local roads and bridges, all with the help of multiple grants; new storm-water and flood mitigation measures also funded largely through grants; the establishment of 24-hour ambulance coverage; professional analysis of local flooding issues; and increased internet coverage through much of the town.
“I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in Olive for the last 35 years,” Sofranko added while speaking about how his wife Sharon and he raised kids in a place surrounded by “abundant natural beauty and a deep sense of community.” “Now, after five years as a town board member, I believe I have the experience and knowledge to move into the town supervisor position and thereby continue to serve my community. Serving in a position of leadership is an opportunity for me to give back to and show my appreciation to my town.”
Rozzelle, known for her spicy honesty and practicality as a stalwart of local government for decades now, made sure to let it be known that Sofranko’s candidacy was completely of his own doing, even though she was planning to place his and Boggess’ names into nomination come the caucus date in May.
Asked whether she might still change her mind about another term, Rozzelle was quick to note that “there’s not a fucking chance in the world what with my doctor telling me I’m living in the wrong climate.”
After going on to ad-lib about Sofranko’s and Edlinger’s relative youth, and “being tired of voting for 70 year old white men,” she added that she plans to continue attending meetings in the coming year, making sure things she got started continue.
Sofranko said he’d welcome that.
“I’m running a campaign to recognize the work Sylvia and we did these past years,” he said. “I’m very grateful there’s so much to build upon.”