Bill McKenna said he’s still on the ballot, and will stay there if that’s what the voters want. But the five-term Woodstock town supervisor says he is done campaigning for this year.
“I am not going to go out and ask for more pain and vile, ” he said. “If the people really think I’m doing that good a job and they support me in June, I will absolutely continue to serve as supervisor. But I will do it with a new gusto. I will feel somewhat vindicated. And I think the bullshit and the vile will be called out and put on display so I’ll feel more comfortable about continuing on.”
At the end of the April 18 meeting of the town board, McKenna announced he was suspending his campaign. “The last year and several months, he said, have become unbearably toxic for me.”
While it is too late to remove his name from the ballot, McKenna said his campaign suspension is not part of some grand scheme.
“This is not a ploy,” he said. “Woodstock deserves an option. They deserve a choice. I’m just not going to go out and seek it,” McKenna said. “I’ll walk away happy on December 31. Except I’ll feel bad for Woodstock.”
McKenna’s only regret, he said, was using profanity in referring to his primary opponent, councilmember Bennet Ratcliff. “I feel sad for Woodstock because they’re going to be led by an asshole,” McKenna said after the meeting had adjourned but the public was still present. “While I totally agree with the sentiment, I shouldn’t use that word in public. So I apologize to the public for that. I’ve slipped once or twice before. I got lots of flaws.”
Was there one thing that pushed him over the edge?
“The last straw …. I think I sat here last Friday during the day and watched emails fly back and forth about the reality of what happened at the meeting Tuesday, and the blatant mischaracterization by two members of the board over what happened,” he said, referring to an April 11 executive session, after which the town board voted to appoint Chris Compton the new Woodstock Environmental Commission chair. The minutes reflect a 5-0 vote to exit the closed session and re-enter public session, and then a 3-2 vote for Compton.
Councilmembers Ratcliff and Maria-Elena Conte say the vote never happened in public, as required by law.
But McKenna said it was all on the up-and-up. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know the rules. I was very clear and specific because I was taking the minutes. We came out of executive session. The vote was 5-0,” he said.
“I looked over at [councilmember] Reggie [Earls] and said, ‘Does anybody want to make a motion?’ and [councilmember] Laura Ricci said yes and made the motion for Chris to serve as chair for 2023. And that passed 3-2, and then we made a motion to close,” McKenna said. “The majority of us passed the minutes. It’s all on record. I remember looking at [confidential secretary] Melanie [Marino] that evening. We were all out together. And I just said I can’t do this anymore. I can’t spend my day fighting lies and mistruths. I’m not getting my work done. Woodstock is not getting what they deserve.”
He had unkind things to say about Ratcliff. “So you know, part of me, I kind of chuckle about the thought of this individual coming in and trying to run the town, ” McKenna said. “He doesn’t have a clue. He doesn’t have an understanding of process, procedure, or the law, and I think it’d be a mess.”
McKenna believes Ratcliff could win by continually criticizing how McKenna handled the 10 Church Road dumping. He insinuated that his primary opponent was misogynistic.
“I have a strong mother and a strong grandmother. I grew up surrounded by strong women. So that is just one more case of speaking a lie and then continuing to say it until enough people believe it. And he could win the election doing that,” McKenna explained. “You piss off a few people over the dumping and get them in. You piss off a few other people that I’m a misogynist, and all of a sudden they’re buying into that. You tell them that I hate gay people, and now all of a sudden there’s three or four [issues]. It’s ridiculous. And I hope Woodstock is smarter than to fall for a ploy like that.”