For the first time in two decades, the Ulster Town Board will not include among its members Joel Brink. Brink, who decided to not run for a sixth consecutive term last fall, served as a councilman at his last meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19.
Brink was elected to the town board for the first time in 1999, running on the Republican line. During his 20 years as a councilman, Brink served under four different supervisors: Lisa Groppuso, Fred Wadnola, Nick Woerner and James Quigley III. Groppuso and Woerner were Democrats, Wadnola and Quigley Republicans. Brink’s brother David was a Democratic member of the town board in the mid-2000s.
Brink has lived in the Town of Ulster his entire life, graduating from Kingston High School in 1954 and serving in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1952 to 1960. During his last town board meeting as a councilman, Brink confirmed that he’s here to stay.
“I want to thank the people of the Town of Ulster for giving me the privilege to serve in the Town of Ulster, where I have lived all my life,” Brink said. “I was born and raised here. I went to school in the Town of Ulster. I worked in the Town of Ulster. I raised my family in the Town of Ulster. I have no intentions of leaving.”
Brink was honored during the meeting with a resolution read, with emotion, by Quigley.
“Whereas Joel Brink began his service as a Town of Ulster town councilman on January 1, 2000 and will retire from town government on December 31st, 2019, and whereas Joel will have served on the Town of Ulster town board for 20 years, having been elected to five terms as town councilman,” Quigley read. “And whereas Joel has been a committed and dedicated public servant, and has worked tirelessly and cooperatively to promote the well-being of the citizens of the Town of Ulster. And whereas Joel has been involved in numerous initiatives of great importance to the Town of Ulster and has served in his role as Town councilman with professionalism, integrity, humanity and compassion. And whereas Joel is a lifelong resident of the Town of Ulster and he hails from a family with a commitment to public service that spans the generations. And whereas the Town of Ulster wishes to recognize Joel for his dedication and excellent service to the citizens of the Town of Ulster and express appreciation for his work. Now therefore be it resolved that the Town of Ulster town board hereby honors Joel B. Brink for a long and distinguished career in local government in the Town of Ulster and for his commitment, dedication and leadership. The Town of Ulster Town Board hereby expresses its appreciation for his service to our community and wishes him a healthy, fulfilling retirement.”
Quigley said at a dinner three nights earlier celebrating his service to the community, Brink was honored by the state Senate, the state Assembly, the county legislature and the Republican Party of both the county and town of Ulster.
“It was quite a long event,” Quigley said. “Mr. Brink didn’t get an opportunity to say anything at the end of that. So Joel, I’m giving you the opportunity to say anything you want and everything that you want that you haven’t said over the last 20 years. Because he has been known to be the quiet, deliberative person on the board that has only spoken when it was absolutely necessary and he needed to make a point. So, Mr. Brink, I’m proud to give you the microphone.”
Brink thanked the voters in the town and those he served with during his time as a councilman, especially those who helped show him the ropes early on.
“As you know, I wouldn’t have put in 20 years if it wasn’t for the voters in the Town of Ulster and I thank them,” he said. “And I also want to thank the employees at the town and the public officials because they were very instrumental in helping me. Because when you come on the town board, you think you know it all; after the first meeting, you don’t know anything. So you have to rely on these people to help you. And they helped me and I really appreciate it. And some of the old-time committeemen, council members, they also helped with their experience and it didn’t make the job a lot easier, but it made it somewhat easier.”
Brink also acknowledged the support of his family, beginning with his wife Gisela.
“She put up with a lot of anxiety with me going to meetings,” Brink said. “She had stuff planned and I’d come home and say, ‘Can’t do it, I’ve got to go to a meeting.’ And she accepted that and she helped me get through the 20 years. I also have my daughter Lisa [Cohen], and she was very instrumental in keeping me in politics. She kept saying, ‘Go, go, keep going.’ And I listened to her. She listened to me for good many years, so I had to listen to her, and I’m glad that I did. And I have a son-in-law that supported me, and my grandson. So I had a lot of family support.”
Brink was given a card signed by town employees, all of whom chipped in to give him a $100 gift card to what Quigley called Brink’s “favorite restaurant,” Lox of Bagels.
“Unfortunately it’s in Saugerties,” Quigley said. “Read the card, appreciate the heartfelt feelings that are communicated there, and when you go to Lox of Bagels and have your next meal, there’s many meals in that gift card. I know that because I was told you only spend $3 when you go up there. So you’ve got about a month’s worth of meals.”