Saugerties Town Board race takes shape

Nicole Roskos, Mike Ivino and Leeanne Thornton.

Petitions have been turned in and the races for town board solidified this week, with two seats up for grabs. 

The Democrats have a primary with two — maybe three — candidates seeking the party’s line. Republicans are putting forth a single candidate.

Centerville-Cedar Grove Fire Commissioner Mike Ivino, 25, received an endorsement from the Saugerties Republican Party on April 4. If elected, he will be the youngest person ever v oted onto the town board.

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“One of the biggest things I’ve come to notice, purchasing property myself in the town of Saugerties, is that most people right out of high school and college can’t afford to live here,” said Ivino. “I have friends moving to Greene County because the taxes are cheaper. There’s kids and even families that have been here their entire lives, for 40 or 50 years, that are moving out of New York. … [Spending] on our town’s part is just out of control.”

Vince Buono, a trustee on the village board, had hoped for a shot at the GOP lines himself, but was not nominated at the caucus.

Republicans endorsed Mike Kavanagh for district attorney; Al Bruno, Mary Wawro and Dean Fabiano (the former two are unopposed) for county legislature; and Jack Hayes, the head of the county Conservative Party, for county executive. 

Ivino has volunteered with Centerville-Cedar Grove since he graduated from Saugerties High in 2012, and has served as a commissioner for two years. He’s the general manager of J&J Tree Works, the company that raises the ball for the town’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration on a crane and provides free landscaping for area churches.

“My overall goal is to get a great grasp on our spending between all entities and figure out where we can save the taxpayer some money,” said Ivino, who described himself as a “conservative young person.”

“I really think there is some overspending that is not necessary,” Ivino said. “We can also look to take some greener paths within the town regarding energy saving and what type of energy we’re using to saver money and create less of a carbon impact.”

Saugerties Conservative Party Chair George Heidcamp said Ivino, along with town supervisor candidate Paul Andreassen, has earned the party’s endorsement; both will appear on the ballot on the Conservative line. Ivino said he’s seeking endorsement from all of the town’s political parties and intends to act “on behalf of all the people, for the people, about the people” he wrote in a recent press release announcing his candidacy.

“He’s young, he’s energetic, he’s committed to this campaign and he’s fired up. I’m proud to have him as a running mate — we’re both Independence Party members,” said current Town Councilman Paul Andreassen, who is running for town supervisor in November. “We need the voters to know that Mike Ivino will bring great ideas to this board. New ideas, fresh ideas, and at 25, ideas that come from a new generation of candidates. It’s an honor to have him in the race with me — it’s time for a change.”

As for the Democrats, there could be a three-way primary in June. Incumbent Leeanne Thornton wants another term, her fifth, and newcomer Nicole Roskos is also seeking the party line. But a wild card, as ever, is Joe Maloney — the county legislator submitted petitions to get himself on the ballot for a Democratic Party town board primary but said Tuesday that he is not running for any office this year.

Roskos proudly describes herself as a woman of many facets. Having moved between Woodstock and Saugerties for the better part of three decades, Roskos spent a significant chunk of her life in pursuit of higher education, graduating from both New York University and Drew University as she earned degrees in anthropology and religious studies. Through her studies, she was able to combine her passion for nature and the divine into a doctoral degree in what has come to be known as “ecological theology” — as Roskos herself describes it, “It’s basically looking at the relationship between people’s idea of the divine and their relationship to nature, whether that’s a harmonious relationship or not. The study deals with nature, and how we have been put here on this planet to care for the earth.”

Roskos, 46, said her deep-seated desire to advocate for the conservation of our natural world is one of the many driving forces behind her decision to run for town board. “I just can’t sit by and watch what’s going on in the world without doing something about it,” said Roskos. “I’ve been feeling very passionate about environmental issues for the past 20 years. Since the birth of my son, I’ve felt like there’s this heavy weight knowing about climate change and the effect it will have on him and on the next generation.”

In an attempt to understand the workings of local government and the pertinent issues of her community, Roskos said she has regularly attended town and zoning board meetings in both Saugerties and Woodstock. “I’m not unfamiliar with the process, I have been to a lot of different board meetings in the area,” said Roskos. “I am new, but that’s why I’m a good candidate, because I am new. I’m new to this, and that makes me a fresh look. Not only that, but I offer a diverse perspective. I’m a single mom, I’m a woman, a naturalist, a gardener, an artist. I feel like I would offer a not only a new view, but an increase in the diversity of the town board.”

If elected, Roskos’ aims on the board include the furtherance of the Saugerties Climate Smart Committee and a goal of making the energy production of the municipality 90 percent renewable within the next five to seven years. She has received endorsements from both the Democratic and Working Families parties.

Incumbent Leeanne Thornton, 70, who has served four terms already on the board, became involved in local government in a similar manner; a middle school social studies teacher with the Taconic Hills Central School District for 48 years before retiring this year, she ran for political office as a learning exercise for her students: “I was not a local person at the time, and it was all very good candidates that were running that year and I did it basically to see what would happen. No one was more surprised than me when the tallies came in and I won.”

Since, she has served on the board for 12 years, and is the heavily-involved town board liaison for the Boys and Girls Club, the newly-established Lifespring adult learning program, the Saugerties Transportation Advisory Council, the Historical Society, the Environmental Conservation Committee and the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

“I’ve been able to work with an incredible cross-section in this community for people who truly love Saugerties,” said Thornton. “That’s what it’s been all about for me, it’s about working with the members of this community on projects.”

Among her proudest achievements on the board, she said, is the headway made on the Bristol Beach project, an endeavor to clear hiking trails and create a sandy beach on a large parcel of land in Malden-on-Hudson and the newly-formed town art commission. Should she be re-elected, she said she plans to continue work on the rezoning of Old Kings Highway, finding funding to revamp the Saugerties Animal Shelter, the exploration of various pedestrian-friendly additions to town infrastructure and a dog park.

Thornton hopes to work under Town Supervisor Fred Costello, who will be challenged for the seat by town councilman Paul Andreassen.

“I started out with him way back when. We ran together first for town board, and I plan on supporting him. Mr. Andreassen has two more years as a town councilperson, and I think that’s good. Paul has nothing to lose in this race. If he doesn’t get elected he has two more years as a councilperson. There’s a lot that you learn as you serve your term and work with your different liaison-ships,” she said. “I think we have a good board right now, and I was very surprised when I heard he was going to run for town supervisor.”

Andreassen received an endorsement from the Republican Party at their caucus and the Saugerties Conservative party earlier this month.

“I don’t have any magic answers, none of us do,” said Andreassen at the Republican caucus. “I don’t care if you’ve been here for two weeks or two centuries, we’re here to work for all of you. every party, every resident … we won’t turn our backs on anybody, my door will always be open, and I’m very humbled. I didn’t hear any nays and that’s a good sign — I guess you all left them in your locked 

cars outside. I have no animosity toward the incumbents. Win, lose or draw, I’ll work with everybody.”

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