Six candidates are running for two slots on the ballot for the Saugerties Town Board. The Saugerties Democratic Committee has endorsed Kevin Freeman and Kayleigh Zaloga. Also running are Lauren Ruberg, Nina Schmidbaur, Timothy Scott Jr. and Diedre Miller.
Freeman and Zaloga are running a coordinated campaign, as are Schmidbaur and Scott, who also included Ulster County Legislature District 2 primary candidate John Schoonmaker. Schoonmaker is now a member of the Saugerties Town Board.
Kevin Freeman, at a candidates’ forum in May, emphasized “compassion and empathy” and a candidate’s “moral compass” over political issues in deciding on a candidate. He noted that “security, education and our natural resources are all concepts that transcend party affiliation. Freeman said he has been involved in politics since joining the Democratic Committee five years ago. He referred to his experience as an election inspector and a census enumerator. He is at this time the secretary of the Town of Saugerties Zoning Board of Appeals. Freeman has the endorsement of the Saugerties Democratic Committee. He has worked with such organizations as a Citizen Action and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “I’ve registered voters and I’ve stood in the rain and snow in marches for women’s rights, Black Lives Matter and organized labor. He has held jobs in information technology and assistant administrator, as well as having been a laborer and worked in retail, he said. Among ideas he said he favors are participatory budgeting, ranked choice voting as ways of encouraging conversions about our future.
Freeman’s website can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ForSaugerties/.
Diedre Miller said at the forum her family has lived in this area for hundreds of years, and her father was the first black deputy sheriff in Ulster County. She’s a single mother who has raised two sons and has worked hard — working multiple jobs — to provide for her children.
On her web page, Miller states that her mission is to “cultivate and support new business ideas that create future jobs using technological advances and climate change as opportunities and motivation.”
Police should be supportive, using practices “that foster trust, cooperation and respect between law enforcement and all spectrums of the community in pursuit of a save living environment for all.”
She includes ending the crisis in affordable housing with “sensible, sustainable solutions that help to promote home ownership and community wealth building,” her web site states.
Miller said at the forum that “I know what hard times are like,” she said. After losing a job she decided to “go back to school and re-educate myself. I earned a bachelor’s and I’m working on two master’s degrees.” Overseas travel has broadened her perspective, she said. She moved to Saugerties to provide a better education for her children and treatment for one with a disorder. “I’m proud to live in Saugerties,” she concluded.
Lauren Marcello Ruberg
“I have a master’s degree, and I am a teacher by trade,” Lauren Marcello Ruberg said, introducing herself at the forum. Like several other candidates, she includes a post on her website with a link to the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) to comment on New York City’s discharges into the Esopus Creek from its reservoirs.
“I am not a politician; I am a resident, and I care very much about Saugerties,” Ruberg said. She can offer Saugerties perspective; “I grew up, a little barefoot kid in Saugerties who was afraid to leave home, but nevertheless I did leave home, only to return here.”
Following a fire that destroyed her home, “if it wasn’t for the friends and neighbors in Saugerties we would never have overcome that.”
Among the issues she lists on her website are affordable housing, short-term rental regulation, local business development, tourism, property taxes, sales taxes special taxes as those for second homes, public facilities development, broadband service the Kings Highway corridor, planning and zoning.
At the candidates’ forum, she said her outlook is not partisan, although she’s a registered Democrat, but on a personal level, she’s for Saugerties.
She is a member of the board of her homeowner’s association helped her develop insight into finance, home ownership issues, project development and legal issues, she said.
Nina Schmidbaur, a psychotherapist, recently purchased the damaged but once elegant Dragon Inn, which she hopes to turn into living space for herself and office space for professionals in fields related to psychology.
Schmidbaur grew up in Saugerties, she said at the candidates’ forum. For the past seven years she has worked with mental health issues as a psychotherapist. “Most recently, I started a social justice committee at the Hudson Valley Mental Health Professionals and we’re using our voices for advocacy,” she said.
In response to a lack of mental health professionals in some schools, she started an out-patient mental health study here, she said. Her experience in testifying in family court, speaking at conferences,
Schmidbaur said she has worked with professionals on anti-racist practices. Anti-racist work adds to her skill set, she said.
“Having backpacked around the world, I expected to see poverty and trouble worse than in America. I was in for a rude awakening,” she said at the forum. “As a social worker, I have witnessed horrific trauma and injustice,” she said. Having seen children in schools and detention centers, she has seen homeless children housed next to sex offenders in hotels, trans children who are denied medical treatment and adults who have suffered from physical and sexual abuse. On a website she and fellow Town Board candidate Tim Scott sponsor, Schmidbaur is posting an “issue a day” in the week leading up to the primary election. In her position on housing and residential taxes is that the town should stay within the 2 percent cap specified in state regulations. “Impacts in property taxes directly impact rents,” she states.
The site also features post cards by local artists; in particular a set of cards illustrated by Tad Richards illustrating local issues, such as affordable housing, social justice, environment, mental health and the arts. The URL for the site is https://www.facebook.com/NinaAndTimForSaugertiesTownBoard/.
Tim Scott, a lifelong resident of Saugerties said at the forum that he is running on a platform of “addressing property taxes, affordable housing, environmental protection, diversity — which up until now I’d say is the most I’ve ever seen in my lifetime in this town.”
His work for the town has included the Zoning Board of Appeals; “I tackled the Joe Karolys dumping issue.” He has been serving as an elected trustee on the Library Board for the past three years and as the recording secretary of the Ulster County Young Democrats.
His background has developed his budgeting skills, Scott said. This will be important in a time of tight budgets and a tax cap.
On a Facebook page Nina Schmidbaur and Scott post to jointly, Scott offers the following background of his life: “From the son of two people born into poverty, to a working class man serving his community! This is just a bit more about his background.
Tim will always be an advocate for those who were not born into privilege.”
Scott and Schmidbaur’s Facebook page features a “Happy May Day” celebration of the international workers’ holiday. The page contains the following pledge: “As your Town Council members, we won’t support allowing businesses with a record of abusing labor to build here.
Instead, we will support businesses that empower employees and make positive contributions to our community!”
“I’m running for Town Board because I love Saugerties,” Kayleigh Zaloga said at the candidate’s forum. “Saugerties is where my husband and I became homeowners. It’s where he runs a small business and where our future lives.
“To assure the quality of our lives, it means protecting our environment,” Zaloga said. “Ensuring that people can afford housing and attracting businesses that will provide good jobs.”
Zaloga has worked at a variety of jobs, some of which paid good wages while others did not, and at one point she struggled on minimum wage, “wondering how I would buy groceries tomorrow. I know the comfort level of a livable salary.”
Zaloga said she has been respected, but she has also “been brushed aside, because of my gender, my age, my hair color, my lipstick.”
It is important to respect and listen to every community member, Zaloga said, “and make decisions with the whole … in mind.”
On her Facebook page, Zaloga sets out her platform and positions on some of the issues: I am running for Saugerties Town Board! My goals include increasing our community’s economic and environmental sustainability; improving transparency, equity and resident engagement in our government; and addressing the growing housing crisis.
Zaloga is a naturalist, and her love for the outdoors is expressed on her Facebook page. About the environment, she writes: “Our land and water are sacred, and we need to work together within Saugerties and with surrounding communities to protect the Esopus from invasive species, Ashokan runoff, and proposed infrastructure projects; to preserve our forests; promote responsible and respectful trail use; and to continue shifting to clean energy.”
The page also includes her positions on the economy, housing, zoning, infrastructure and transparency and equity. “The best decisions are made with input from the community, and I will continually work to improve making town meetings, the town website and town documents easily accessible to the public. We need to acknowledge that no one is immune from implicit racial bias or other prejudices, and there is always room for more dialogue, training, and understanding to improve how we all treat each other, regardless of race, nationality, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, or any other trait.”
Zaloga lists Endorsements from Saugerties Democratic Committee, Ulster County Young Democrats.
Zaloga’s website can be found at www.kayzalogaforsaugerties.com