A look at the County Legislature candidates in New Paltz, Gardiner, Rosendale and Highland

District 10 (Lloyd, Marlborough)

It’s poised to be another close election between Mary Beth Maio, the Republican incumbent, and Democratic challenger Russell Gilmore for a seat on the Ulster County Legislature to represent District 10. This legislative district covers a large portion of the Towns of Lloyd and Marlborough in southern Ulster County.

In 2017, Maio, 51, who is running for her sixth consecutive term, narrowly defeated Gilmore by a little over 200 votes: 1,095 to 868. All newly elected or reelected members of the County Legislature will be held to serving no more than 12 years or three terms, beginning on January 1, 2020. This law, which was passed by a majority of the County Legislature this past July, does not count any terms held prior to January 1, 2020.

Mary Beth Maio

Maio, a registered Republican who is running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, said that running for reelection “allows me to show my continued dedication to my district/county by using my banking experience along with my accounting degree on financial decisions.” Maio is the vice president and regional branch manager of Wallkill Valley Credit and Loans. “Such important decisions are made at budget time while looking at county spending. I am proud to be part of keeping county taxes at a minimum,” she added.


In terms of challenges facing the district, Maio said that “keeping and attracting economic growth” continue to be at the forefront, and that she hopes to continue sitting on the Economic Development Committee for the county to “keep a watchful eye on how we can find new ways to attract good business to our county. Growth is such a vital part of our economic climate.”

Maio is also on the County’s Ways and Means Committee and said that “County spending is also a challenge every year. Finding innovative ways to keep the county running, yet being sensitive to the bottom line, is always a concern.” Her approach is to “look for smart spending along with shared services” to meet those challenges.

The veteran legislator said that making Ulster County “environmentally friendly is an important priority,” and that “Passing legislation to show our dedication to our environment will be the new way for the County.”

One of Maio’s proud moments as a legislator “was to get our first responders a needed training center. This was accomplished. I will keep first responders’ needs foremost to make sure they will continue to get the required education and training to keep Ulster County safe.”

Russell Gilmore

Gilmore, who is a retired educator and operational director of two large childcare agencies, is a longtime Highland resident who is currently serving his third term on Lloyd’s Zoning Board of Appeals. He is also the vice president of the Highland Landing Park Association and a member of the Highland Business Association. He has been endorsed by the Democrats and will be running on both the Democratic and the Working Families lines.

Gilmore, 64, says that he “supports women’s rights, the rights of working families, fair and equal pay for a day’s work, fairness to illegal immigrants to help them properly transition to citizenship,” as well as “reasonable gun laws and fiscal responsibility of government programs.”

In terms of priorities, Gilmore is a strong believer in diversity as well as environmental protection. If elected, he says that he will support the “development of environmental strategies to protect our Earth and enact those plans.” He said that he also has “unyielding support for fairness to the LGBTQ community, persons of all races, ethnicities and religions. Acceptance of diversity is an acceptance of ourselves.”

— Erin Quinn

District 9 (Lloyd, Plattekill)

Herbert Litts

District 9 legislature candidate Herbert Litts did not respond to queries by our deadline. 

District 16 (Gardiner, Shawangunk)

In a year when Democratic incumbents in town government in Gardiner are sailing into reelection without any headwinds of opposition, the race to determine who will represent the Towns of Gardiner and Shawangunk in the Ulster County Legislature is the one to watch. Incumbent District 16 representative Tracey Bartels (Democrat, Working Families) has six discontinuous terms on the Legislature under her belt, serving from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2012 to the present, and recently was chosen as chair. A relative newcomer to the area from New York City, Jordan Manley (Republican, Conservative, Independence), has thrown down the gauntlet, contesting the District 16 seat.

Tracey Bartels

On what committees do you serve in the County Legislature?

As chairperson, I have a seat on every committee. In the past I have served, chaired and deputy-chaired the Environment and Energy Committee. I have also served and deputy-chaired Ways and Means. In addition, I have been a member of the Audit Committee and the Economic Development Committee. I also chaired several notable special committees, including the Committee to Investigate the Cost Overruns at the Ulster County law Enforcement Center and the Ulster and Delaware Corridor Advisory Committee.

What other skills, experience or accomplishments of yours qualify you to serve as a county legislator?

As evidenced by my work in the Legislature and my work as chair, both of the Legislature and of Committees both special and standing, I work successfully to build consensus. I work across party lines to deliver the best result for my constituents and all of Ulster County. Since my return to the Legislature, we have consistently delivered a decrease in County taxes while transforming the way that we deliver services. We have expanded recreational opportunities through a growing network of world-class trails. The county also has expanded access to education; SUNY Ulster is a source of countywide pride. We have committed to infrastructure improvement and the positive effects are being felt countywide. I have a solid record of working for the people of Ulster County and delivering on my word.

I have lived in Ulster County for nearly 25 years and have represented the people of my district for almost half that time. Our child was born here, and we are so happy to be a part of this amazing and vibrant community; I even coach soccer in our local recreational league. I am committed to the preservation of our agricultural traditions that are the cornerstone of this region and the current economic driver of tourism. I have been endorsed by HVALF, Citizen Action and Ulster People.

What challenges or opportunities do you see facing the County Legislature in its next term? Longer-term?

Property tax burden is a huge issue for so many Ulster County residents. When I talk to my constituents, I hear about the difficulty that young people face in making the decision to stay in Ulster County. We need to attract jobs here that pay a living wage. We created a department of Economic Development and are making it the priority it needs to be. Affordable housing is also a need across the county. While individual projects are introduced at a municipal level, the county can and should create a regional plan.

I am committed to the Green New Deal for Ulster County. We set the example for the state on so many environmental initiatives, I am confident we can achieve these important goals. Ulster County is the most amazing place to live. I feel so lucky to be raising our family here.

If elected, what would be your top priorities to bring to county governance?

We are working hard to find a self-reliant solution to solid waste in the region. I am committed to seeing that through. We cannot fail; the long-term costs are too high. I also will prioritize the continued expansion of safe roadways for all the many users, included expanded shoulders for bicyclists and pedestrians. I will work to expand access to broadband and affordable housing. I also want to see the successful implementation of all the good government and criminal justice reform that happened at the state level. I will look to continue to partner with local municipalities for shared services. I also want to improve promotion of the services that we already deliver, including through Office for the Aging, Veterans’ Services and the Youth Bureau. I will deliver a county government that is respectful and responsive.

Jordan Manley.

Jordan Manley

What skills, experience or accomplishments of yours qualify you to serve as a county legislator?

I have been coming to Ulster County for years to explore and enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities. A year-and-a-half ago, I decided to buy an old farmhouse [in Shawangunk] and renovate it. In my career, I have spent years volunteering in Brazil and lived in Mexico and Honduras. Seven years ago, I taught myself to be a computer programmer and currently work full-time as a programmer.


I’m into common sense: Most people can’t live out their values without a good income. Many people across our county are struggling to find good work and prepare for the future. We need to focus on job training, personal finance training and the expectation that social welfare is a temporary crutch and not a long-term plan.

What challenges or opportunities do you see facing the County Legislature in its next term? Longer-term?

Across the country, we have had more than a decade of nearly unprecedented economic growth. Sadly, this growth has not benefited everyone. We need to shore up the job skills of some county residents so that when there is an economic downturn, they have the means to work and provide for their families.

We need to develop Ulster Works, the county’s professional development department, into an efficient place for people to get job training. Job training should be mandatory for most residents receiving ongoing social services and struggling with unemployment. 

If elected, what would be your top priorities to bring to county governance?

We need to actively court businesses in industries that thrive on proximity to urban areas but also need space. Specifically, this could be indoor agriculture and continuing to grow the tourism industry. The Office of Economic Development has several dead links on their page and doesn’t seem to offer the breadth of information that it could. Moreover, it points to two other organizations (Ulster County Economic Development Alliance and Ulster County Capital Resource Corporation) with pretty much no description of what they do. This makes utilizing these resources quite confusing and difficult.

Ulster Alive, the county’s tourism website, could be grown into an even better portal for fun and recreation in our county; and we could choose to spend on advertising outside the county — specifically, to attract visitors from the tri-state area, Boston and Philadelphia.

Companies that are coming into Ulster County should look to Ulster Works as the first line of hiring for their personnel needs.

— Frances Marion Platt

District 17 (New Paltz)

James Delaune

Democratic incumbent James Delaune is running to keep his seat on the Ulster County Legislature representing District 17, which covers primarily the Towns of New Paltz and Esopus. As a longtime New Paltz resident, Delaune said that he was taught that “giving back is a requirement, not an option. New Paltz has provided a sense of community and offered so much in terms of its natural beauty, community and quality of life,” which he wants to help nurture and protect. “I’ve worked on commissions, volunteered on boards; and serving the Legislature seemed to me to be part of the natural progression.”

When asked what he sees as two of the greatest challenges facing the county, the Democratic incumbent said that, in his estimation it is “growing increasingly hard for our children to stay in Ulster County,” as it “suffers from a lack of sustainable jobs. Economic development is Priority Number One. We’ve made gains, and we have a thriving tourism-related sector, but we need to replicate the success of tourism in other sectors, such as small manufacturing, film and value-added industries.” He also feels that the county needs to focus on issues of safety and enforcement.

His top priorities come January 1 would be continued support for Ulster County’s agricultural sector. “Agriculture needs to be recognized as an economic driver in our county. I believe that we should be more supportive of the agribusiness system, which includes producers, processors and sellers. We need to do a better job of helping the farmers who are here and those interested in locating to our county.” His other priority would be to help create economic opportunities in terms of “job growth, while at the same time protecting Ulster County’s agricultural, scenic and historical character.”

— Erin Quinn

District 19 (Marbletown, Rosendale)

Manna Jo Greene

Voters in the Town of Rosendale, as well as part of Marbletown, are represented in the Ulster County Legislature by Manna Jo Greene, who is running unopposed this fall on the Democrat and Working Families Party lines for reelection to her District 19 seat. Greene is wrapping up her sixth year in the Legislature, where she currently chairs the Energy & Environment Committee, the Ulster County Climate Smart Committee and the Solid Waste Planning Commission. In addition, she serves on the Public Works & Capital Projects Committee and on the Trail & Rail Advisory Committee (TRAC). “I also regularly attend Ways & Means to hear representatives from both caucuses interact on the issues before us,” Greene notes.

What other skills, experience or accomplishments of yours qualify you to serve as a county legislator?

I was a registered critical care nurse at Benedictine Hospital for 22 years. I was also the recycling coordinator for the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency for more than ten years, helping to take Ulster County’s recycling rate from four percent to 40 percent in a decade. I have been the environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater for almost 20 years. I served on the Rosendale Town Council for eight years before coming to the Legislature, am trained in conflict resolution and mediation and by Al Gore as a Climate Reality leader. I hold an AAS in Nursing from SUNY Ulster (UCCC), a BA in Biology/Pre-Med from SUNY New Paltz and coursework in Environmental Studies at SUNY New Paltz and the Bard MSES program.

I got my start as an activist in the Civil Rights movement and have worked for social, economic and environmental justice most of my adult life. I am also trained in the Natural Step and Drawdown Climate Solutions. Last year I helped initiate the Ulster County Green Business Challenge, and have worked to promote sustainable agriculture and green building practices and renewable energy projects for more than 20 years.

I also walk the walk by having done a deep energy retrofit on my house, installed a 6.7 KW solar array and drive a plug-in hybrid car. A longtime member of the Mid-Ulster League of Women Voters, I have been endorsed by CSEA Unit 8950, Citizens’ Action of NY and Ulster People for Justice and Democracy.

What challenges or opportunities do you see facing the County Legislature in its next term? Longer-term?

One of the main challenges we all face is the global climate crisis, which we have recently defined as a climate emergency. In this regard, the transition to a renewable energy economy with storage and efficiency is both urgent and achievable, but we need an actual roadmap to define how we will get there. With an Energy Working Group of the Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainability Coalition, I am co-chairing a coalition to create a Renewable Energy Implementation Plan for the seven counties in the mid-Hudson region to be able to achieve the ambitious goals embodied in New York State’s recently enacted Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

I also think that our volunteer fire and ambulances services should be actively supported, as they now increasingly need to supplement trained volunteers with paid staff to continue to provide these essential services. Finally, I think we need to pay more attention to affordable housing, to provide training for green jobs and to find a way to guarantee affordable health care for all.

If elected, what would be your top priorities to bring to county governance?

I deeply believe in, and actively practice, collaborative, solution-oriented communication. If we can work together and allow our values to become additive, instead of canceling each other out, we will come up with superior solutions and make real progress. I also want to ensure that all jobs become green jobs, and that workers who are potentially displaced by changing energy and other systems are well-prepared to make a just transition to the many new opportunities to make a good living for themselves and their families. I want to help create a community and a world that my grandson can be happy and safe in: one in which peace and justice will prevail.

— Frances Marion Platt

District 20 (New Paltz)

Educator and researcher Eve Walter is one of two new candidates vying for the District 20 seat on the Ulster County Legislature that was held for a long time by Hector Rodriguez (D-New Paltz), who will not seek another term. Walter will run on the Democratic and Working Families lines, while her challenger, Village of New Paltz resident Donna Smith, also a former employee of the Town of New Paltz and the Town of Gardiner, will run on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. Both women cite the opioid crisis and affordable housing as two major challenges facing the county.

Eve Walter

Walter said that she believes she has the experience to run in part due to her background in working with SUNY students. “I taught for over 20 years, mostly in the SUNY New Paltz Department of Sociology, educating hundreds of students in criminology, violence against women, delinquency and social inquiry,” she said. More recently she has been working for the Institute for Family Health, “serving primarily the medically underserved, conducting research to reduce racial and income disparities in health.”

She said that this position brings her closer to the needs of Ulster County, as it has her “conducting research on responses to opioid addiction, obesity and other conditions that impact our region. Now, after decades of hearing the needs of Ulster County residents and the challenges of service agencies and government, serving as county legislator will enable me to show up, speak up and make a difference for our county and all of its residents in ways not available to me before.”

As the chair of the Village of New Paltz Planning Board, Walters said that she “speaks up for the balance of old and new, encouraging affordable housing and green development.”

When asked what she would name as the top two challenges facing Ulster County and District 20 specifically, she said an innovative public transportation system and a “healthy housing problem on each level of our socioeconomic strata.” In terms of public transportation, she said that a move away from the culture’s “single-car focus” is critical, as well as an aggressive ridesharing program. As for housing, she said, “We have a homeless population living in fields and in motels and cars. We have families with low income, often living in poor conditions and forced to move often. We have a middle class who have found their housing stock consumed by AirBnB. We have people who are living in homes that are too expensive in energy costs and high taxes. As much as we know this is true, we do not have a clear grasp of the extent of this problem. I am a strong advocate of metric-based problem-solving; but first we need to truly quantify these conditions so we can best respond and measure the efficacy of or responses.”

If elected, she said that she would focus on these two issues, but that her top priorities would also include opioid addiction and the healthcare system in general. “We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, with mountains, trails, water and fresh air, and yet we have significant problems with obesity, chronic disease, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, to name a few,” said Walter. “I am determined to help improve our mental health services, I am determined to work toward converting our hospitals to hospitals of excellence and I am determined to identify where gaps to access to care exist across this county and find ways to fill these gaps so everyone has equal access to health.”

Donna Smith.

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, 54, grew up in Gardiner and has spent the past 34 years of her life living in New Paltz. She has worked for both the New Paltz and Gardiner Town Halls as a bookkeeper. “Growing up here, I have seen many changes — some for the good and some not,” she said. “Running for office is a way that I would like to try and help my community come back together and look for the best opportunities.”

The GOP candidate feels that politics is playing much too divisive of a role. “The divide between political parties has become evil and needs to change. People will always have differences of opinions and that’s okay,” she said, noting that having a balance of different opinions in local government is essential, but that it doesn’t have to be so polarized. “The county needs new opportunities. We need growth and not people moving out.”

In Smith’s estimation, the top two challenges facing Ulster County are opioids and taxes.

“Opioids have been on the rise for a while and [addiction] is continuing at a rapid pace,” she said. “More education and prevention are needed. Finding the root to the opioid problems we’re facing needs to be investigated.”

In terms of taxes, Smith said that she understands that taxes need to be levied to help keep the county and its programs running; but, if elected, she would prioritize “finding ways to bring money into our town and county to help offset the cost to the taxpayers. More jobs could be made by allowing more buildings and businesses to come in.”

— Erin Quinn