This year there were no intra-party contests in local New Paltz elections, and no contest higher than the county level to draw voters in. With Democrats holding a sizable majority, there weren’t even Republican challengers for the two town council seats, making the election effortless for incumbent Julie Seyfert-Lillis and newcomer Alexandria Baer. The same was true for county legislator Jim Delaune, who sailed to a sleepy victory, as did town clerk Rosanna Mazzaccari-Rosenkranse. In contested races, the Democrats beat their opponents handily: town justice James Bacon will be returned to the bench for another term, and Eve Walter will succeed Hector Rodriguez in the county legislature, rather than Donna Smith.
Seyfert-Lillis is an advocate around issues of mental health, climate change, and alternative modes of transportation. Recently she’s championed the minority viewpoint that the proposal to build a solar farm on and around the capped town landfill warrants additional scrutiny before being approved. The concept receiving the most interest would result in up to 20 acres of trees being removed for a facility that is expected to last 20 to 25 years; left undisturbed, Seyfert-Lillis has said it would be classified as old-growth forest by that time. That concern is based on the notion that smaller areas of woods are important connections for wildlife, and is consistent with her activism around the Trans-Hudson project prior to her running for the board in 2015, and the fact that she serves as executive director of Millbrook Preserve, Inc. As of press time, she unofficially received 1,956 votes.
Baer, who names Seyfert-Lillis as her inspiration to serve, is also involved with a nonprofit: she’s executive director of Unison Arts Center. It’s through her work at that community hub that she has recognized the issues she believes to be most pressing, especially those of motorized traffic and non-motorized transportation. Much of that is framed in the language of pedestrian safety. She’s also named “empty buildings and lost businesses” as worthy of more attention. She cites her managerial experience as evidence that she can work with people with different perspectives on an issue. As of press time, Baer unofficially received 1,910 votes.
The town justice race pitted an incumbent attorney against a book seller. James Bacon successfully argued that being an attorney is an important (although not legally required) quality in a town justice, successfully weathering the challenge offered by Kevin Kelly, who promised among other things that the clerk’s room would get repainted by him personally, if necessary, whether he were to best Bacon or not; as of press time on election night, the votes fell 1,801 for Bacon on the Democrat line, with Kelly getting a total of 500 from his Green and Working Families lines on the ballot.
Mazzaccari-Rosenkranse, running unopposed for town clerk, was given the green light to continue the job by 2,067 voters.
Party registration played a more obvious role in the contested district 20 county legislator race. Neither Eve Walter nor Donna Smith was the incumbent, and neither woman has held office before. Unlike for town justices, there’s no unspoken assumption that candidates should be members of a particular profession. They each also named opioid addiction as a top concern at the county level. Nevertheless, epidemiologist Walter, the Democrat, emerged decisively victorious over Smith, a Republican who has worked in two town governments as a bookkeeper, 979 to 161. District 17 incumbent Jim Delaune, who had no challenger at all, promised to continue supporting agriculture in the county and garnered 1,293 votes for his efforts.