Ulster County legislator Kathy Nolan, who won the seat from six-year incumbent John Parete in 2017, will again face Parete in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 25, from noon to 9 p.m. They are seeking to represent District 22, which includes the towns of Shandaken, Olive, Denning, and Hardenburgh.
Nolan is endorsed by the county’s Democratic Committee. Parete received endorsement from county Republicans and has also gleaned enough Democratic signatures to place him on the primary ballot. Asked why he chose to run in the primary when he already had the Republican nod, Parete replied, “I’m an enrolled Democrat, so I’m running on the Democratic line. The Republicans, the Conservatives, and the Independence Party also asked if I would accept their endorsement. I like to represent as many people as I can.”
Parete said he’s running because “there’s a lot of unfinished business out there. The opioid crisis, for instance, has to be treated locally as an infrastructure problem. The state is doing a good job of getting resources for people who have been affected by it. But we have to start thinking about how to prevent it, and local communities have to start taking the lead.” He believes education, conducted in conjunction with the schools, should be applied to keeping kids off drugs.
He’s concerned about jobs and housing, particularly for young people just getting out of school. “For them, renting or buying a house is almost impossible [given] the salary they make and the cost of a piece of property.” In his own family, his granddaughter, a Certified Public Accountant, has been unable to find a job locally but is traveling to Albany to make enough money to live while paying off her student debt. Meanwhile, the number of students attending area schools continues to diminish, reducing the number of jobs for teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and other staff. Parete is a member of ORDA, the state’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, which has obtained investment for the Belleayre Ski Center. The improvements have been “good for jobs and for getting people to come to the area,” said Parete.
Elders, too, have problems with housing. “If you’re a senior and can no longer afford your house, where do you live? There’s no place, unless you go to Kingston. I don’t want to go to Kingston if I grew up in Phoenicia, Shokan, Boiceville. No one is addressing it, certainly not on a county level.”
Parete calls these “big issues, not mundane stuff. We have to change the mindset to say, ‘It’s not just about me but about our community.’ We have to have some long-range vision.”
Nolan: Involved and engaged
In her first term as county legislator, said Nolan, “I’ve been working to increase job opportunities for the towns and for Ulster County, primarily businesses related to our trail network and our recreational opportunities in the Catskill Park and New York City watershed.” She has long supported creation of the Ashokan Rail Trail, which is scheduled to open this fall and is expected to funnel customers to nearby businesses. In association with the trail and other recreational initiatives, she said, “Cafés have sprung up in many parts of Ulster County, as well as bike shops, guide services, and the direct business of Rail Explorers,” the rail bike service in Phoenicia.
“We have also been doing very well with increased film production in Ulster County, with more than ten films and $25 million in direct spending already in the Hudson Valley in 2018. I supported the policy of opening our area to the film production tax credit, and I’ve worked hard to let businesses and individuals know they can serve as film sites. It’s helped other businesses for costuming and catering.”
In the realm of health, Nolan introduced legislation to raise the minimum age for the purchase of nicotine products to keep them out of the hands of teens. She is serving as liaison to Ulster County Opioid Use and Prevention Task Force to address the drug crisis.
To improve communication with residents and elected officials, Nolan has continued her practice of attending meetings of town boards and appointed boards. She has reached out to town offices when issues arise such as seeking options for improving broadband coverage and the proposal for banning single-use plastic shopping bags. Other problems she has responded to successfully include street signs missing from roads and cases of poor road drainage. She worked closely with the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program and government agencies to implement a protocol to manage wood in the streams, in cases where wood accumulates at bridges and becomes hazardous to structures and people using the streams.
“I’m trying to give citizens a more powerful voice by listening to the concerns,” said Nolan. “I’m involved and engaged in the community in a way that brings me into contact with people in work and recreational activities so we can do joint problem solving at what would make our communities better.”
Registered Democrats will be able to vote in the primary on Tuesday, June 25. Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m.