Michael Veitch is the latest to join a field of Democratic candidates running for two seats on the town board in Woodstock. Veitch, who sells real estate and is a singer-songwriter, also chairs the Woodstock Tree Committee.
Besides Veitch, the field includes Anula Courtis and incumbent Laura Ricci, who are running on a ticket with supervisor Bill McKenna. Also running is Linda Lover, a retired teacher and local activist.
Veitch thinks Bennet Ratcliff “deserves another vote” on the board if he is elected supervisor. He called incumbent Laura Ricci “another rubber stamp” for the Bill McKenna administration. “Even if Bill [McKenna] gets re-elected supervisor, we still would have Bennett and Maria-Elena Conte, who are the reasonable ones on the town board,” Veitch pointed out.
Ratcliff will still be on the town board seat should he lose the supervisor race. “I’ll be out collecting signatures, and I want to hear from everybody. I want to talk to anybody who wants to talk to me about anything,” Veitch said.
Veitch said he wants to be on the board to make sure the 40 trees recommended by the tree committee will be planted when sidewalks are replaced as part of the state DOT project to rebuild Tinker Street from the center of town to Schoonmaker Lane. He said the project was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I really don’t want to lose it.”
Veitch, who was one of the organizers of Friends of Comeau, said he will continue to fight for preservation of the Comeau Drive building that houses the town offices.
Veitch has been dealing with a neighbor who has neglected his property and who has been given until March 1 to clean it up. The occasion reminded him of the need for opportunities to provide affordable housing.
“I think of places like this as a prime example of where the town should step in, take control of these properties, and rehab them and turn them into safe, clean, affordable housing,” Veitch said. “They can do it. They’ve got the authority to do it, but that doesn’t seem to be what they want to do.”
Veitch thought that the town government should devote more resources to the volunteers who make it work. “They have no trouble at all spending $325,000 on a vacuum cleaner for leaves or $199,000 for some vague engineering study, which we don’t even know what it is,” he said. “The money that gets thrown around compared to the very small amounts of money the volunteers asked for and were denied is just astonishing.”
He criticized the town for not enforcing laws already on the books while passing new ones. “It should be a level playing field for everybody in this town, not just certain people,” Veitch said. “It takes a long time to get a law passed in the Town of Woodstock and get it on the books. And after all the hard work and sweat and blood and tears, the law gets passed — and then it doesn’t get enforced. This is not right. This isn’t good government. It’s bad government. My goal is to make sure that our enforcement officers are getting paid to enforce, not getting paid to not enforce, which has seemed to be the case here for quite some time.”