In last week’s letters section of Hudson Valley One, Jane Schanberg criticized the mayor and board of trustees of the Village of New Paltz for failing to:
1) Notify the public that due to an announced resignation an interim replacement would be needed in one of the county legislative positions serving the community; and
2) Solicit individuals to seek to fill the anticipated eight-month-long vacancy when one of the two county legislators representing New Paltz resigned, effective April of this year.
In fact, the New Paltz Village Board of Trustees has no role in county legislature deliberations considering vacancy appointments. And more specifically, the legal procedure outlined in the Ulster County Charter for filling vacancies does not include any involvement by local elected boards — i.e. the school board, town board, village board — to manage or facilitate interim appointment processes. The actual truth of the matter is that there was ample information available to the public about this vacancy and the process that would be used to fill it from the resigning legislator, and the county government, and the local media. The incumbent made public announcements including one during a regular Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees meeting. The coming change was also reported on by Hudson Valley One and the Daily Freeman.
Of course any local elected official, like any interested member of the public, may freely comment on any matter of interest to the community. Village Deputy Mayor Alexandria Wojcik did speak out publicly as an individual to encourage community members to join her at the county legislature session at which legislators would consider an interim appointee to the soon-to-be vacant seat. Wojcik was unwavering in her objection to the legislature having any consideration of a former Ulster County legislator who in 2019 was censured after the county paid for an independent investigation that confirmed this previous legislator had sexually harassed at least seven women.
I supported Wojcik in exercising her 1st Amendment rights on this occasion, as I did the 14 people who spoke in 2019 before the legislature in favor of the censure, and former Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and former chair of the legislature Tracey Bartels who both issued press releases condemning the censured legislator’s actions.
I am pleased the Ulster County Legislature subsequently appointed Tricia Bowen to fill the position on an interim basis. I note that Ms. Bowen is not seeking a full term this fall, a choice that is in accord with the view of Dr. KT Tobin, head of SUNY New Paltz’s Benjamin Center, that appointment to fill a vacancy not be used to create an incumbent advantage for the following election to a full term.
Mayor Tim Rogers