Every choice available to New Paltz voters on the ballot this year is going to be a binary one. There are seven propositions — eight, for those in the Village — that are yes-or-no questions. That’s essentially the same choice for candidates, too: there are just as many local candidates as seats, and the only “no” vote is simply not voting for that candidate.
The ballot propositions
The Town proposition is asking for an increase of $100,000 to the budget contribution to the Elting Memorial Library to $656,000. All resident of the Town will get to decide on the library budget. Since every square inch of the Village is part of the Town, including the college campus, all residents of the Village are also Town residents. Most of the budget for the Elting Memorial Library comes from Town taxes, and voters are being asked for an 18% increase, from $556,000 a year to $656,000 annually.
The Village proposition seeks to increase the annual amount given to qualified volunteer firefighters from $700 to $1,200 at a maximum total of $24,500 for all recipients. The same bizarre relationship that makes it hard to understand that “the Town” includes “the Village” every single case is the reason why only Village residents will be decided on volunteer firefighter service awards. It’s a Village fire department, in part because legally there is no such thing as a Town fire department in New York. Nevertheless, all town residents are eligible to join, many volunteer firefighters do not live in the Village, and there’s a financial arrangement between the two governments to pay for the many emergency calls that occur outside of Village limits. Everyone in New Paltz benefits from this structure, but only Village residents may vote on increasing service awards from $700 to $1,200 per year. This is the only financial compensation provided to volunteers who run into burning buildings, among other activities, which would cost in the millions if a paid force was made necessary by a lack of available volunteers.
Candidates running unopposed for local office in New Paltz
Chris Marx has been the Town’s Highway Superintendent since 2012, and is on the ballot for another four-year term. Marx is also the appointed Water Commissioner, and runs the Buildings and Grounds Department. Marx has overseen clearing the land for the new justice center, installing a water line to that building, and seeing to the maintenance of all Town roads. This is one of the most costly parts of town government, and Marx uses relationships to reduce costs through shared and donated services and materials.
Neil Bettez has been Supervisor since 2016. Bettez’s campaign page on Facebook hasn’t been updated since 2018. Budgets in recent years have been within the statutory tax cap.
Daniel Torres is senior member of the Town Council, having taken office in 2014. Torres is presently the deputy supervisor. Torres grew up in the community, and was a School Board member before joining Town government.
Esi Lewis is running unopposed for the Town Council seat to be vacated by David Brownstein. Lewis will be first African-American woman on that body. Lewis’ father, David Lewis, was a council member during the aughts, and mother Margaret Wade-Lewis was an outspoken champion of the community. Lewis is an attorney who is part of the Town’s Police Reform and Reinvention Commission.
In the 17th county legislative district, which includes the outer portions of New Paltz and a bit of Esopus, Megan Sperry is the unchallenged newcomer for that seat on the County Legislature. Sperry is described on the campaign Facebook page as “an educator who works in the public sector and an advocate for social justice.
Eve Walter will secure a second term in the 20th legislative district, which covers the Village and adjacent Cherry Hill neighborhood in New Paltz. Unlike other candidates, Walter has issues tied to the job on a website. They include “ensuring a healthier, greener county,” “fighting for equity and protecting rights,” and, “representing New Paltz values in county government.”
Early voting in Ulster County runs October 23-31, and all registered voters may cast ballots during this period at one of six location: SUNY New Paltz (in the Student Union Building), American Legion in Shokan, Midtown Neighborhood Center in Kingston, Ellenville Public Library, Marlborough Town Hall or the Saugerties Senior Center.
The hours vary by day. It’s 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekend days at the beginning and end of the period. During the week, it’s 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Voters who prefer to wait until November 2 will have been sent a postcard with the address of that polling site.