Village of New Paltz election is May 7

Village of New Paltz residents will get to choose among several candidates for trustee when they head over to the firehouse to vote on May 7, but the incumbent mayor faces no opposition this year. Tim Rogers is completing his first four-year term as mayor. Don Kerr and Dennis Young are also seeking second terms, as trustee, and voters will be measuring their accomplishment against the promises offered by Alexandra Wojcik and Michele Zipp.

Dennis Young

Dennis Young is completing his first term on the board, and previously served on the Environmental Policy Commission, which was the precursor to the current board of the same name.

He touts the single-hauler law now in effect in town and village alike as his most significant accomplishment thus far. Under this scheme, there’s only one license issued for picking up garbage and recycling from residential homes. This resulted in a savings for most people who choose to get curbside pickup; the law is also intended to reduce the noise, traffic congestion and road wear associated with multiple garbage trucks going down each town and village road every week. Young has leveraged his experience writing a request for proposals to fill that contract in other ways, such as his current plan to use private contractors to shovel snow from sidewalks once 24 hours has passed as per village law. Other projects which interest him include zero-waste and smart-planning initiatives to preserve community character as the village population grows.

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Young is running on the Community First line.

To learn more about Young, visit https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/04/21/village-of-new-paltz-trustee-race-features-four-for-two-seats-mayor-runs-unopposed/.

Don Kerr

Don Kerr is completing his first term as a trustee, and previously served on the Environmental Policy Commission, which was the precursor to the current board of the same name. He is also a former School Board member and past president of the board.

The capacity of the village’s sewer treatment plant as population grows is a concern for Kerr; he also wishes to definitively identify the source of contamination to the Mill Brook which contributes fecal coliform bacteria into the Wallkill River. He sees purchase of that land as one of the most important accomplishments of his term, along with the security-deposit law. Projects he’s interested in include trails and bridges in the Mill Brook Preserve (which he likens to Central Park in relative importance), and ensuring that growth in the NBR district along North Chestnut Street balances parking needs with pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. He places himself in the role of devil’s advocate, testing ideas through questions during meetings.

Kerr’s name will be found on the Responsive line on the ballot.

To learn more about Kerr, visit https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/04/21/village-of-new-paltz-trustee-race-features-four-for-two-seats-mayor-runs-unopposed/.

Michele Zipp

Michele Zipp is a community activist, a co-founder of Resisterhood, a group the members of which focus on a number of environmental and social-justice issues. She has also served as an alternate member on the Planning Board. Zipp wishes to see village government entirely run on renewable energy, and is interested in exploring ways to create more public spaces and transportation infrastructure, such as a solar-powered trolley. She seeks a government with diverse perspectives represented, including ways to include parents and school-age children, and favors stronger protections for renters. Rearing her own children in the village, she sees New Paltz as a potential model for local ways to address climate change. She intends on bringing a collaborative style to the board table.

Zipp is running on the Community Empowerment line.

To learn more about Zipp, visit https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/04/21/village-of-new-paltz-trustee-race-features-four-for-two-seats-mayor-runs-unopposed/.

Alexandra Wojcik

Alexandra Wojcik is a former deputy village clerk who worked directly with the mayor and trustees. She is also a frequent activist and political campaigner.

Wojcik frames her environmental concerns through the lens of climate justice, and believes the village could be a leading community in that area. Her vision of the village is one where the streets feel welcome no matter the mode of one’s transportation, and the culture feels welcome regardless of issues of nationality, gender or orientation. She supports the creation of more public spaces, and more ways to make them user-friendly, such as public wireless service. More robust public arts programs could be used to address social ills such as addiction by strengthening community ties, which in turn would allow for more radical responses to issues of climate change. All of these ideas must, to her mind, be crafted in a way to include renters, who are equally important village residents.

Wojcik’s name will be on the DIY line on the ballot.

To learn more about Wojcik, visit https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/04/21/village-of-new-paltz-trustee-race-features-four-for-two-seats-mayor-runs-unopposed/.

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers is completing his first term as mayor.

He considers the experience he’s gained working with multiple levels of bureaucracy a valuable tool in bringing in necessary funding such as SUNY impact aid and funding to help build a new firehouse. He hopes to see the village grow in a way that reduces the need on cars and increases local resilience in areas such as energy. 

Rogers’ name will be on the Every Day line.

Here are his responses to some questions previously sent to him about the job.

What about your background do you think it’s important for voters to know about you?

After graduating from New Paltz High School in 1989, I lived in NYC for 20 years where I worked for the NYS Division for Youth with incarcerated juvenile offenders, graduated from NYU’s business school with an MBA and worked in finance. In 2012, I moved back home to rear my children. When I started as village mayor in 2015, I drew upon my unique combination of past employment plus my local volunteer work having served simultaneously on New Paltz’s Town Planning Board and Board of Education.

Having been mayor now for four years, I have learned a great deal about the job. I enjoy trying to figure out challenging puzzles like how we manage and pay for water, sewer, fire protection, downtown parking, storm water infrastructure, streetlights, sidewalks, etc., while being prudent with taxpayer funds. I absorb more daily and am excited to keep learning about our village and taking concrete actions to make it even better.

Four years from now, what would you like to be different in the village?

• Shared town and village municipal offices

• Completion of our new five double-bay fire station at the corner of North Putt and Henry W. Dubois

• More locally-sourced water so that we buy 20% of our water from the NYC DEP instead of the expensive 60% that we purchase now

• Continued reductions in the amount of non-revenue water in our system: in 2014, there was 46% and each of the last four years it has decreased and we had 22% non-revenue water in 2018 which has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars

• Water meters with telemetry so customers can see their daily water and sewer consumption — which we know saves water users money by encouraging conservation and detecting leaks earlier

• Financial software that allows for auto bill pay for water, sewer, and taxes

• Improvements to our sewer conveyance system that is currently stressed and vulnerable to inflow and infiltration (I&I) from groundwater and storm water so there is less volume at the Huguenot Street sewer plant. Less I&I will protect our plant’s equipment and make sure it is functioning correctly before our disinfected effluent is discharged into the Wallkill River

• Improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure

• More street trees

• Better downtown parking

• More electric vehicle charging stations

• More locally-generated electricity from solar

• Community wireless, especially if it can be used by public school students expected to use internet for their homework

• More new fire and public works trucks and equipment

• More contributions to our volunteer firefighters’ retirement accounts

• More support of our building department to protect resident safety and help improve the affordability of housing in the village

• An effective design review process including our Planning Board and Historic Preservation Commission for new buildings and changes to existing exteriors

•Affordable and high-quality health care for our staff

• Getting these and other things done while carefully balancing revenues and expenses for taxpayers and ratepayers

Is there anything which keeps you awake at night that you think village trustees can help change for the better?

How do we manage visitors who love our unique community with its local businesses and walk-able Main Street surrounded by world-class outdoor recreation and beauty, while we primarily rely on property taxes to fund our operations [and] only receive a fraction of the sales tax our community generates? We are expected to do so much at the local government level without adding to the already expensive and inequitable property tax bills in New York State.

What skills and experience do you now bring to the office of mayor, which you didn’t possess four years ago?

I have a better understanding of the nuanced relationships between local, county and state governments. We rely heavily on the state and need to know how to apply for grants and communicate our needs to our elected representatives and various individuals at state agencies in Albany so they can advocate on our behalf. I have learned not to take “no” for an answer, and do not give up while seeking what we need. Perseverance has paid off in several instances.

I have also grown to deeply appreciate the value of communication with constituents. I don’t shy away from regularly talking about the various mungy details of local government. The response to my transparency and respect of the intelligence of neighbors has been extremely positive, even when there is disagreement about the leadership choices I make. I welcome feedback and constantly try to integrate community input into my problem-solving.

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Are there two or three things you’ve accomplished in your first term about which you are particularly proud?

1. Securing SUNY impact aid from the state by working hard with our representatives in Albany resulting in $200,000 annually the last two years.

2. Acquiring over $3 million by collaborating with the NYC DEP, SUNY New Paltz and the Town of New Paltz for investments in our community’s drinking water system. We will have new groundwater wells and updated meters at SUNY New Paltz and in the town-outside-the-village water districts, as well as money to connect more locally-sourced water.

3. Purchasing vitally-needed fire and public works equipment, the completion of several capital projects, improved services, and all without raising taxes for four years.

What regrets do you have about initiatives in that same time? What might you have done differently?

It’s been difficult learning as I go during the planning and development process for our new fire station. While the state has committed $5 million for the project, the bids we received were well above what our community should be expected to pay.

We should have issued an RFP (request for proposals) to review several construction management firms for our new fire station instead of assuming we should use DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York). We believed there was an advantage to using DASNY so the project would not be subject to the Wicks law. The law mandates separately bid contracts for construction, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing on publicly-funded projects over $50,000. Working closely with GOSR (Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery) we hope we can find a more well-suited construction manager to be our advocate to make sure our fire station project is both as economically responsible and as high-quality as possible.

The Village of New Paltz election will be held on May 7 at the Fire Department located at 25 Plattekill Avenue in New Paltz. The polls will be open  from noon to 9 p.m.