New Paltz Village Trustee William Wheeler Murray will seek the Ulster County Legislature’s 20th district seat. Murray, who has lived in New York State nearly his entire life, is a 20-year resident of New Paltz and is in his second term as Village Trustee. He sees his Village Board and community work as a significant asset to answer the needs of county government and Ulster County residents.
“My years of service to New Paltz and the county have equipped me with the experience to get things done,” Murray says. “I stand for safe and fair treatment of our residents and have a track record of working professionally, cooperatively and compassionately. My vision for the county embraces the wonderful things we have while recognizing areas needing sharp, focused attention and improvement.”
Among his top priorities are developing ways to streamline the planning board application process that include affordable housing projects, avoiding costly building delays and, because many people do not live near public transportation, he wants to develop a county-wide micro transit system, utilizing a funded, reduced-rate voucher system for riders, while employing existing EV fleets operated by ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. “This will help people get important needs met in an environmentally friendly way.”
Murray’s position on social justice and equity is clear. “We need real change on how our laws are enforced and categorically better represent people of color and those who are marginalized,” he says. “We need to better involve non-police agencies, such as social and mental health agencies, to respond to certain matters police are typically summoned to. Since restorative justice is wedded to better law enforcement and justice reform, more funding and expanded programs must be put in place.”
With crumbling municipal water and sewer infrastructure desperately needing updating and expansion to meet ever increasing demands of housing, he wants to “improve infrastructure funding pathways for municipalities, because housing is a human right while it also bolsters economic growth.”
As a trustee, Murray was an early advocate of New Paltz’s Short-Term Rental Law, designed to curb out-of-town corporations from buying up properties and turning them into short-term rentals, thereby driving up home prices and rents; he also created New Paltz’s Fire Sprinkler Law, which requires that new homes and large home expansions install fire sprinklers to protect egress routes; and he worked with then-New York State Senator Jen Metzger, pushing for an increase in volunteer firefighters’ retirement payment, which unanimously passed both the New York State Senate and Assembly.
As a member of the New Paltz Fire Department, Murray sees a growing volunteer firefighter and EMS personnel shortage in the county. “We must find ways of increasing these dwindling numbers of men and women who volunteer for emergency agencies who are the backbone of our communities. Volunteer firefighters save our county millions of dollars and the state more than $3 billion in taxpayer funds every year.”
For seven years he has been a member of the Ulster County Planning Board and has served as the Village Board liaison for the New Paltz Fire Department, the Planning Board, the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee, and the Design Review and Historic Preservation Commission. “I have consistently worked with my board colleagues to support and further efforts that protect our climate, tenants, members of our LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.”
Murray has a four-decade career in professional, non-commercial visual and performing arts, domestically and internationally, in communication, planning, outreach, education and production, all in service to a wide range of progressive interests and communities.