The underlying theme for this year’s election in Olive — with two full slates of candidates vying for the town’s first open supervisor’s position in years, as well as an open town justice spot (and two races for town council with four candidates) — depends on which party you’re listening to.
That said, there have been no Meet the Candidate events in the spread-out reservoir town this year, and only a few occasions — such as Olive Day in early September — when candidates have been in shouting distance of each other.
On the Democrats side, where supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle is retiring after several terms in her current position and three decades as town clerk before that, council member Jim Sofranko is seeking to step up.
“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 when announcing his bid in the Spring. “I hope to continue the work that Sylvia has accomplished for our community and continue to build on her successes.”
He’s being joined on the D line by incumbent councilman Drew Boggess, a former planning board chairman and longtime Rotron design engineer and product development manager; and political newcomer Dave Edinger, a member of the town’s Conservation Advisory Council who has worked at SUNY Ulster for 20 years and serves with the Olive Fire Department and Olive Free Library Board of Directors.
All are noting their wish to continue what they see as their Democratic majority’s strong stewardship over recent years (including a short period where the majority was actually GOP), and what good shape the town is in, overall. If there’s a wrinkle to be discerned, it comes in the form of Edinger’s statement early on in his campaign that, “Olive will be experiencing many changes over the next few years and I would like to help guide the town to make the most of these changes while maintaining everything we love about our town.”
“We have more work that needs to be done,” was how Boggess put it.
Blakely leads Republicans
For the Republicans, political newcomer Steve Blakely, who’s running for supervisor, said he’d been asked to run by those who, like him, felt it wasn’t right that the town was not doing more to fight greater forces that are working against the continuation of Boiceville as Olive’s de facto business center. He mentioned New York City’s accepted offers to purchase several business properties in the regularly-flooding hamlet and the rising cost of flood insurance.
“I don’t like the attitude our town’s had of just letting it go,” he said. “There’s a lack of business opportunity in Olive; our kids are moving away.”
Running alongside Blakely for town council seats on the Republican and Conservative lines are longtime incumbent Peter Friedel and current planning board chairman Dave Sorbellini.
The latter also spoke about the town board not doing more to keep Boiceville’s businesses in place and looking into alternatives for saving the hamlet’s role ion the town.
“What’s the plan for Olive going into 2030?” he asked. “We can’t be just a pitstop. Sylvia’s been ‘old school;’ we need more flexibility, more advocacy…if people don’t show up for a meeting it doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion, but that you have to reach out better.”
Underlying the changes in town, Sorbellini speaks with passion about the underlying dangers in the state’s ideal of “Forever Wild,” which he feels is a way of rezoning lands from commercial to “stopping opportunity.”
“We can do better, vetting out options more fully,” he added. “Look at the size of the Shokan wastewater plant they’re building. Does that suffice if we move the center to Shokan? We need a vision for Olive.”
Also running on November 5 for the town justice position formerly held by Tanya Davis are Peggy Haug, a retired health and phys ed teacher, on the Dems’ side, and police commissioner Earla VanKleeck on the GOP and Conservative Party ticket.
Repeated calls and emails to Friedel resulted in no answer.