Debra Clinton, a local middle school principal, has announced her candidacy for the Ulster County Legislature, representing District 16. Clinton, a lifelong Gardiner resident, is running in the new district, created by the recent county reapportionment process. District 16 includes all of Gardiner and a portion of Plattekill. In addition to her 14 years as the principal of Marlboro Middle School, Clinton was previously a social studies teacher at New Paltz High School.
Clinton is perhaps best known as a founder and leader of Move Forward New York (MFNY), a group formed in 2016 to spur community engagement in local, regional and national political action. MFNY has been active in environmental issues such as the Riverkeeper cleanup of the Wallkill River, Adopt-a-Highway, Trees for Tribs and Climate Smart Gardiner. The group also has focused on political action in support of candidates for office, such as Antonio Delgado, Jen Metzger, Patrick Ryan and Juan Figueroa.
“I come from a working family background, having grown up on a farm on Denniston Road in Gardiner, earned three degrees from SUNY New Paltz, and spent more than 30 years as a teacher and school administrator,” said Clinton. “Since I first taught about government and politics in the 90s, I have stressed to my students that they should actively exercise their citizenship responsibilities and be part of the solution to their communities’ problems. Running for Ulster County Legislature is the best way to make a contribution to my community’s well-being.”
Clinton’s declaration of her candidacy comes in the wake of an announcement by the current legislative representative of District 16 and Chair of the County Legislature, Tracey Bartels, that she will not seek another term in 2023.
“I have known Debra for many years as a very active community leader and as a friend,” said Bartels. “I am delighted by her decision to run for the seat I will be vacating after 16 years of service. I know first-hand her commitment to the well-being of the southern Ulster community as well as her leadership skills and rock-solid values.”
Asked to identify the three most important issues facing the citizens of Gardiner and Plattekill, Clinton responded: “I believe affordable housing, job creation and transitioning to a green economy will be key focus areas for me. I am also interested in increasing the amount of attention and resources devoted to the needs of southern Ulster County while recognizing the importance of fiscal responsibility.”