With the sole exception of the County Legislature race, the autumn of 2021 is a quiet election season in the Town of Gardiner. Most of the Democratic candidates are running unopposed.
Gardiner Republicans didn’t put forward candidates this year to contest Marybeth Majestic’s bid for a fourth term as Town supervisor, nor incumbent Robert Rich for Town justice. At its July caucus, the Gardiner Republican Committee cross-nominated incumbent Town clerk and tax collector Michelle Mosher, whose name will appear on both the Democratic and Republican lines on the November ballot, and unofficially endorsed incumbent highway superintendent Brian Stiscia, who is running as a Democrat.
Nor has the Gardiner GOP fielded a candidate for either of the expiring Town Board seats: Incumbent centrist Democrat Warren Wiegand, noted as a fiscal conservative and advocate for open space, is poised to retain his position, while Carol Richman has no opponent for the slot being vacated by the retirement of councilman David Dukler. She defeated Todd Baker – who recently attained local notice as the primary spokesperson for the Short-Term Renters’ Association of Gardiner – in the June 2021 Democratic primary. An attorney and an outspoken environmental advocate as a member of Gardiner’s Environmental Conservation Commission and more recently the Planning Board, Richman’s confrontational style seems likely to provide a sharp contrast with Dukler’s more laid-back approach to debate on local issues.
The one Gardiner incumbent with a fight on her hands this November is another public servant with a reputation for championing environmental causes, notably as author of the 2019 Bring Your Own Bag Act. Seeking reelection as the representative for District 16 in the Ulster County Legislature is Gardiner resident Tracey Bartels, a documentary filmmaker who has already served seven terms – from 2004 to 2007 and from 2013 to 2021, part of that time as chair. Besides spearheading the County plastic bag ban, which became a statewide model, Bartels authored a resolution to end the use of polystyrene foam in takeout containers and was a prime sponsor of legislation requiring that new County construction be built to a LEED Silver standard; the Neighbor Notification Law regarding pesticide application; the Sustainable Energy Loan Program; and the County’s Green Fleet Policy. A long-term solution to solid waste management in the County is high on her priority list for the near future.
Bartels touts herself as a fiscal watchdog who has delivered a balanced budget every year since 2013, and chaired the committee that investigated cost overruns at the County Jail and recommended policy to prevent recurrence. Other priorities in her platform are economic development, affordable housing, broadband expansion, access to recreation, criminal justice reform and addressing mental health needs and issues of addiction.
District 16 covers all of Gardiner and two election districts in Shawangunk, the hometown of Bartels’ GOP opponent. Currently co-owner of Fire Fox Farms, political neophyte Kimberly Calderone has been running a low-key race, with her campaign materials largely emphasizing her 30-year career as a firefighter and her commitment to first responders. She attained the rank of lieutenant with the West Point Fire Department and has also served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Shawangunk Valley Fire Department.
Calderone’s stated goals include “to bring true representation to the residents of Gardiner and Shawangunk” and “hearing your concerns to ensure your voice is heard.” With regard to policy priorities, she writes, “I will work to preserve the quaint rural aspects of our towns while promoting environmentally sound business opportunities.”
On the County and State levels, the Gardiner Democratic Committee has also endorsed March Gallagher for Ulster County comptroller, Sarah Rakov for Ulster County Family Court justice, and David Gandin, Kevin Bryant and Laura Jordan for justices of the New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial District. All are running unopposed.
So why bother to vote in November, if you’re a Gardinerite and all but one of the races are a done deal? Turn your ballot over and find out, even if you don’t much care who represents you in the County Legislature. There are five statewide propositions up for public approval, providing for redistricting reform, same-day voter registration and adding the right to clean water, clean air and a healthful environment to the New York State Constitution. To learn more, visit www.elections.ny.gov/2021BallotProposals.html.