Three candidates seek Dem nod for Saugerties seat in county legislature

All three of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for District 2 representative on the Ulster County Legislature have run for the seat before, and two have held it. Chris Allen, Joe Maloney and John Schoonmaker are running in a primary election on June 22 for the Democratic nomination. The seat is currently held by Republican Al Bruno.

District 2 covers the village, Barclay Heights, and part of Glasco. 

[Related: Where to vote early for the primaries in Ulster County.]

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Chris Allen

Chris Allen held the seat from 2013 to 2017, when he was defeated by Joe Maloney, who at the time was a member of the Independence Party running with the backing of the Republican Party and endorsements from the Conservative, Green and Women’s Equality parties.

During his term in the County Legislature, Allen served on the Social Services Committee, of which he was deputy chair and the Ways and Means, Economic Development and Tourism committees. Allen had a political consulting company before running for the County Legislature in 2013. He was reelected in 2015, then lost to Maloney in 2017.

In a recent campaign flyer, Allen states he will work to add funding and employees to the Office for the Aging, set policies to require nursing homes and assisted living centers to write more detailed emergency plans, work to create community-based optional composting centers, support sensible waste and recycling policies, work with other agencies and citizens’ groups to address the property damage from New York City’s Ashokan Reservoir to the Esopus Creek and work with state officials to establish lottery games to raise money to fund improvements to the Ashokan and Gilboa Reservoirs, among many others ideas. 

Allen also appeared in the police blotter twice in recent years: first in 2015 when a Greene County teacher said he assaulted her by forcefully pulling on a necklace she was wearing during a dispute at a swimming hole, and again in 2019 when a Saugerties man said Allen trespassed at his home during a dispute over campaign signs. Allen has denied all allegations. 

Allen is a graduate of Saugerties High School, has an associate’s degree from Ulster Community College, bachelor’s degrees from SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Binghamton, and master’s degrees from Rutgers and Northern Colorado universities.

For more information, check his Facebook page, which is devoted more to local causes and events than to his candidacy.

Joe Maloney

Joe Maloney was elected to the County Legislature in 2017, running as a member of the Independence Party and on the Republican ticket. He switched to the Democratic Party in June 2018. During his term in the Legislature, he chaired the Audit Committee. Called “perhaps one of the most controversial lawmakers in the Ulster County Legislature’s recent history” by a local daily newspaper, Maloney quickly attracted attention by introducing a number of measures that would place limits on the powers and privileges of county officials, including, most notably, term limits. In 2018, he changed his registration to Democrat, which changed the balance of power in the Legislature, giving the Democrats a one-seat majority.

Later that year, he became embroiled in a scandal. In December of 2018, the County Board of Ethics ruled that Maloney had violated the county’s ethics law when he voted on a contract with the county’s employees’ union, as his wife was employed in the Comptroller’s office and was covered by the contract. The board voted to fine Maloney $7,000. Judge Richard Mott, however, ruled that the Ethics Board had not provided sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, and he nullified the action.

He announced in early 2019 that he wouldn’t be seeking a second term. Maloney is married and has four children. When he stepped away from running for a second term, one of the reasons he gave was his desire to spend more time with his family.

Maloney is the owner of Maloney’s Wine and Liquor. Prior to owning the store, he worked at several different agencies with disabled children.

John Schoonmaker

John Schoonmaker ran for the County Legislature in 2019 on the Democratic line. He faced Al Bruno on the Republican and Conservative lines and Chris Allen on the Working Families and an independent line. 

When he announced his intention to run in January, Schoonmaker focused on four major issues. Topping the list was the environment, including increasing use of solar energy. He also emphasized the control of invasive species. In particular, Schoonmaker cited the efforts to rid the Esopus Creek of invasive weeds, a cooperative effort by the town and village of Saugerties and local contractor John Mullen. Schoonmaker is interested in alternative energy.

A second area of interest is the way the county deals with plans and problems. He has been “popping into” committee meetings to see how the county operates.

Housing is on Schoonmaker’s list of interests, in particular affordable housing for less affluent residents.

He has expressed support for RUPCO (Rural Ulster Preservation Company), which works to provide housing at reasonable cost.

Pilot [Payment in Lieu of Taxes] agreements, or tax breaks for new developments, are the fourth area Schoonmaker said he wants to look into. “Unfortunately, this is something we have to deal with, because if we just said ‘no pilots’ these businesses would go elsewhere.”

Schoonmaker is a member of the Saugerties Town Board, having served since 2018. A native of Saugerties, he graduated from Saugerties High School in 2010 and studied biology at Sienna College. He is employed at Taconic Bioscience. For more information, check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/schoonmakerfordistrict2/.