Woodstock voters will decide between incumbent town supervisor Bill McKenna and write-in candidate and former supervisor Jeff Moran for the top town seat while all others are running unopposed. Both tout their records while Moran says he’s the one who can devote the time needed for the job.
Bill McKenna is seeking his second elected term as supervisor, having been appointed to the job in January 2017 to replace the late Jeremy Wilber, Woodstock’s longest-serving supervisor.
“I think I have a proven track record,” McKenna said, differentiating him from Moran.
“I’ve successfully overseen completion of all three major projects in town and a lot of smaller ones.”
McKenna was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is married to Hilary and has a son, Gabriel and a stepson, Jory. He has served on the Planning Board and as a town councilman.
McKenna stressed the importance of having a good financial base and touted being one of the first supervisors in 55 years to have a Comprehensive Plan. Based on its recommendations, committees for housing, telecommunications, complete streets and zoning revision have formed.
Another major accomplishment he touts is the town takeover of the cemetery after its board disbanded amid fiscal difficulties. “People tell me it’s never looked better,” McKenna said.
The supervisor said he wants to see more affordable housing and hopes the Housing Committee comes up with some recommendations.
“I was one of the most vocal supporters of RUPCO,” he said, referring to the Woodstock Commons development behind Bradley Meadows. Initially a highly controversial affordable-housing project, most townspeople have since embraced it.
McKenna sounded the alarm bells when state audits found budget shortfalls in 2011, during Moran’s tenure.
“I really had to push to control spending and rein it in,” he said.
McKenna sees Woodstock on the upswing. “In the past Woodstock suffered through hard times with many vacant shops and few music venues,” he wrote in a letter to the editor. “Today we experience a different Woodstock with a vibrant economic center. Many of our older buildings have been remodeled and repurposed. Live music can be enjoyed in a number of venues such as Levon Helm Studios, the Station Bar and Curio and Colony, a building that sat vacant for years. We all watch in anticipation as life is breathed back into the Bearsville Center…for the first time in years many shop owners are responding that they are have had good seasons.”
It’s a full-time job
Jeff Moran, who was supervisor from 2008 through 2011, is seeking the job again as a write-in candidate. Moran is a 30-year resident of Woodstock and is married to photographer Dion Ogust. He has done work in commercials, silversmithing and the construction industry.
Moran, who pledged not to say anything negative about McKenna, said being supervisor is a full-time job and he can devote the time to do it. McKenna also runs a construction business. “I found it very difficult if not impossible to do anything but devote my time to being supervisor,” he said.
Moran recalled asking Wilber if it was possible to do the job part-time.
“He said you can try but you’ll find it’s a full-time job,” Moran said. “I don’t see that the job would’ve changed so much that it wouldn’t require full-time.”
Moran said the work of a supervisor involves meetings during the day with citizens and department heads.
McKenna has said he puts in a 40-hour week conducting town business, working at least four to five hours per weekday and also comes in on the weekends.
“I don’t say the town is a disaster because Bill is a full-time contractor, but things have slipped through the cracks,” Moran said, questioning why it took the Town Board two years to respond to a package of zoning changes recommended by the Planning Board.
He said depending on board members, who are part-time, to do much of the heavy lifting is not responsible.
“I think you could accelerate that process with a little more focus and attention,” he said.
Moran cites successful projects undertaken during his administration by the various Supervisor’s Task Forces, including Comeau Trails, Beautification, Dog Park, Economic Development as well as refinancing the municipal bond at more favorable rates and renegotiating a sale of California Quarry land to the Open Space Institute.
While Moran touts his ability to manage a municipal budget, a significant shortfall happened under his watch in 2011. It was discovered the highway fund was short $250,000 and the general fund was missing $150,000. Nobody was able to determine exactly where the money went. Those shortfalls, combined with other math errors turned a proposed 2012 budget that was under the state cap into one that increased taxes almost 8 percent. Moran had proposed unpopular fixes that included eliminating police dispatch and utilizing the county 911 system instead. Cuts were made elsewhere.
Moran has blamed the town’s accounting software but McKenna points out it is still in use and no problems have surfaced since then.
Councilwoman Laura Ricci and Councilman Reggie Earls are running unopposed for two Town Board seats, as are Town Clerk Jackie Earley and Highway Superintendent Mike Reynolds for their positions. Ulster County Legislature Majority Leader Jonathan Heppner, who represents Woodstock and part of Hurley, is also running unopposed.