Catskill Mountain News profiles candidates for local offices
By Cheryl Petersen
Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The Catskill Mountain News profiles candidates for town government positions which feature multiple candidates for a position.
In additon to town balloting, voters across New York State will also weigh in a proposition asking whether up to seven casinos should be allowed to be buiilt — including two in the Catskills.
Town of Andes
Martin Liddle, Republican and Independence, has been serving on a council seat for 32 years. “While on the board, an upgrade to the waste water facility has been completed,” said Liddle. “The work went smoothly and everyone worked together. The project was brought before the board by Supervisor Donnelly, and I follow his lead.”
“If the proposed Belleayre ski and resort expansion can help the economy, I’m all for it,” said Liddle. “But, realistically, not even tourism is helping the area. We need more jobs.”
Martin Liddle stays neutral in regard to the subject of fracking. “I am a landowner and landowners want to see a future of possibilities, yet care for the land responsibly.”
“I’m totally against the NY SAFE Act,” said Liddle. “The restrictions on guns are ridiculous. We have a constitutional right to bear arms and I believe that right is what keeps our country free and great.”
When it comes to a proposed bed tax, Liddle feels, “Most of the other counties have bed tax, I don’t see why Delaware County shouldn’t also. What’s wrong with that?”
Martin Liddle is married and has two children and three grandchildren. Martin and his wife live and work on their dairy farm.
Dale Cole, Democratic and Independent, has been following Andes politics closely. “Andes is unique in that 70 percent of the homeowners are from the metropolitan area,” said Cole. “To capitalize on this uniqueness, I believe effort well spent would be to bring cell service to the town and to attract more bed and breakfasts and housing.”
Dale Cole carries a positive attitude toward the potential Belleayre Mountain expansion. “I also think the Bobcat Ski Center in the Town of Andes should be revisited,” said Cole. “Andes has the biggest mountain in Delaware County, and the Bobcat Ski Center is needed there. It would be a nice family area.”
Dale Cole opposes fracking. “Water is more important than gas,” said Cole. “Science proves the dangers of fracking.”
“The NY SAFE Act deserves a long discussion,” said Cole. “I own guns and used guns during my basic training days. Something should be done about assault weapons to make it difficult to acquire them. But, I hunt and know people can be safe with guns.”
“Andes needs to encourage more lodging, as it is a means of income to the community. Cell phone service is also crucial for safety and convenience. Many of the tourists want to work and they need reliable cell service,” added Cole. “The Delaware County Board of Supervisors are discussing a bed tax, however, that could dissuade new bed and breakfasts or housing.”
“Continued effort needs to be made to keep taxes under the two percent tax cap,” said Cole. “Right now the town is in the middle of a delicate situation concerning proposed local laws for noise. The topic needs to be worked out with the whole town in mind.”
Dale Cole has lived in the Andes area for 70 years. He retired after working for the post office for 30 years. “I’ve been married to Susan for 39 years, and we have three successful children in their own right,” said Cole. “I love sports and have coached over 50 teams. I still volunteer coach at South Kortright.” Dale Cole has been a volunteer fire fighter for 15 years and on the emergency services team for five years. He has a Bachelor of Science degree.
Dan Grommeck, Republican and Independence, has served on the town council since 2007. “The proposed Belleayre project is a good thing for the region,” said Grommeck.
“I strive to keep taxes low while yet keeping high quality services for the people in the town,” said Grommeck, who participated in developing a local law to ban fracking in the town.
“I oppose fracking,” said Grommeck. “I do however see the need to get cell service to Andes. The tough economy isn’t helping. Companies don’t have the money to invest in small communities, but cell service is a concern and I believe it is necessary especially for safety reasons. People should be able to call for help when they need it.”
“I think the NY SAFE Act was not a smart move. It should be repealed,” said Grommeck.
Grommeck discussed issues he is currently working on with other board members, “A town noise ordinance is being fine-tuned. It’s a touchy situation because of rumors, but we will work for the best answer. The board did recently move forward with a local law requiring permitted use at the transfer station. This will save the town money.”
The Andes transfer station is allotted so much weight per year for construction and demolition material. “The materials are often dumped illegally. We’ve been receiving way more weight than the town is allotted and it results in big fees,” said Grommeck. “Therefore a plan has been developed. Permits will be instituted and enforcement will be established.”
Dan Grommeck has lived in Andes his whole life. He is married and has two children.
Tom Joyce, on the Democratic and Independent line (Stands United), moved to Andes in 2000. “I’m retired. I’m civic minded and ready to be an active member of the Town of Andes Board,” said Joyce, who attends board meetings to familiarize himself with its responsibilities.
A big thumbs up came when the proposed Belleayre expansion was mentioned. “I’m for the ski and resort expansion 100 percent,” said Thomas Joyce.
“I’m against fracking,” said Joyce. As far as the NY SAFE Act, Thomas Joyce said, “I believe universal background checks are right, but the law went too far. I also feel strongly the need to revisit the mental aspect of veterans coming home. The war had a chilling affect and it is closely related to guns.”
In regard to talk on a bed tax in Delaware County, Joyce feels he needs to do more research on the subject, adding, and “Andes needs more lodging.”
“I believe we should be in the front of change, and make the change a benefit to the town,” said Joyce. “This area has a lot to offer, hunting, biking, local farming. And, I’m discovering that being in the Watershed is not a shackle. The Watershed organizations have a lot to offer residents through grants and loans. I think the use of social media will get the word out about all Andes has to offer.”
“I would like to see more use of the town pool,” said Joyce. “The pool is a wonderful resource for the community and I’m sure there is a way to work out the logistics and keep it open more often.”
Joyce said, “I’m willing to be the point man to getting cell phone service here. Cell service is a priority.”
Thomas Joyce is married, with grown children, and has an extensive background in the restaurant business. “My business experience will benefit the Town of Andes,” said Thomas Joyce.
Tina Moshier, on the Republican and Independence lines, has been with the Town of Andes for eight years. “I was appointed to serve a year and won elections after that,” said Moshier. “I like meeting and helping the people. And, the Town of Andes is at 100 percent equalization rate.”
Tina Moshier is New York State Certified and has 23 years of experience in the assessment field. “I have 10 years of experience with the Delaware County Real Property Tax Office,” said Moshier, who is also proficient with data entry. While striving to be fair and equitable as tax assessor, Tina Moshier follows through on continuing education.
Moshier has won awards for her skills in the tax profession. As of October 1, Tina Moshier was also appointed, by the Town of Hamden, to be their part-time tax assessor. She is married and has lived in Andes since 1995.
Joseph Steketee Sr., Independent (For the People), and endorsed by the Democratic Committee, says, “I have over 10 years of experience in the profession of real estate and am more than willing to take the time to be a fair and equitable public servant in the office of tax assessor for Andes.”
Steketee is familiar with appraisal work and realizes the demands of what it means to be a tax assessor. “As a self-employed person, I have and will make the time to obtain, as soon as possible, the New York State basic certification necessary for the job. I strongly believe in the importance of involving and educating the people in all matters, and will aim for an open door policy for everyone.”
Joseph (Joe) Steketee became a landowner a few years ago after moving to the area full time in 2006. “I came up here every summer when I was growing up,” said Steketee. “I’m now engaged to a local and we have two young boys. I love this area and am ready to preserve its integrity.”
Town of Bovina
On the Republican and Independence lines, incumbent, Tina Molé is completing 12 years as town supervisor. “During my tenure, the board has followed through on some major accomplishments,” said Molé. “A $6 million septic project, funded by grant monies, was completed, in conjunction with a storm water system installed by Delaware County Department of Public Works.”
Tina Molé has publicly spoken in favor of the proposed Belleayre Ski and Resort Expansion. “It would be a boon to our economy,” said Molé.
“If for any reason, fracking could be an issue, I’d bring it before the board,” said Molé. “However, the Town of Bovina is 100 percent in the New York City Watershed and every agency is against fracking in the Watershed. Fracking is not even allowed in New York State, so I’m dedicated to maintaining and improving everyday issues in the Town of Bovina and for the good of the county.”
“The NY SAFE Act was passed in the middle of the night without input from officials and should be repealed,” said Molé
“The county board of supervisors is considering a bed tax, however, I need to hear from my Bovina bed and breakfast owners,” said Molé.
Funding was secured for community sidewalks and for renovation of the community hall and the old Maynard schoolhouse. “I also found funding for half the cost of a new highway facility,” said Molé. The new facility cost $400,000.
“I’m currently seeking funding to paint the outside of town hall and to renovate the community water system,” said Molé.
Tina Molé has lived in Delaware County her whole life, is married and has a 17-year-old son who attends Delaware Academy. “I’ve also worked in Senator Bonacic’s office for 15 years,” said Molé.
On the Independent line (Bovina Heritage), Beatriz F. Sohni is running for town supervisor. “I’m not looking to change Bovina, but change myself to be more involved,” said Sohni. “As proprietor of Russell’s General Store, I hear a lot of desires from the Bovina residents and I am ready to be their voice.”
“I’m all for the proposed Belleayre Ski and Resort expansion,” said Sohni. “We need it for the economy. We need all the jobs we can get and I’m happy for any of the jobs.”
Beatriz Sohni is completely against fracking. “It’s a huge topic, but they need to do more testing and studies,” said Sohni. “We need to know the long term affects, and because Bovina is in the Watershed, I’m very protective of the water.”
As far as guns, Sohni has applied for a gun permit, but is not a gun owner. “I have no comment on the NY SAFE Act. I know gun owners and they are responsible, but my own stance on guns, I’m not sure.”
“The bed tax is a new topic,” said Sohni. “I kind of agree especially if the funds go for more advertising to attract tourist. We need more tourists.”
“I moved to Bovina three and half years ago and can’t afford a home because the taxes are high,” said Sohni. “I’m not the only person who thinks taxes are high and I believe something can be worked out to bring equity to the situation.”
Beatriz Sohni was a freelance talent executive for 25 years in California before starting a business in Bovina five years ago. “My ability to interact with people and my skills to promote an inclusive community will be valuable as a Supervisor,” said Sohni. “I also see the benefits of bringing together the weekenders and the local full timers.”
Evelyn Stewart, Democrat, seeks again the council seat. “I was appointed to serve six years ago, and then elected to serve this last term,” said Stewart. “The board has been moving forward with productive projects, such as replacing the bridge at the corner of Crescent Valley Road and Bovina Road. I will work to see these and more projects through.”
Evelyn Stewart was involved when the board built a new highway department building. “We are now looking into replacing the water system in the hamlet district,” said Stewart.
“I think the proposed Belleayre Ski and Resort expansion is a good thing. I do not see a downside to the proposal,” said Stewart. “It will help the local economy.”
“Fracking is not an immediate issue in the Town of Bovina, which is 100 percent in the Watershed,” said Stewart. “Fracking is disallowed by the authorities in the Watershed.”
As for the NY SAFE Act, Evelyn Stewart said, “I am a pistol permit holder and believe the Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms to protect ourselves.”
“The proposed bed tax in Delaware County is going to require some research,” said Stewart. “It’s a new issue put before the board and before I form an opinion, I want to learn more about it.”
Evelyn Stewart has lived in Bovina her whole life. She is married and has four children.
On the Republican and Independent (A better Bovina) lines, Ken Brown has previous experience on the town of board. “Although, I haven’t been a councilman for the last two years, I’ve attended almost every meeting,” said Brown. “I have a natural interest in the town and like to negotiate and be involved in the decision making process. I feel it’s important to be in the know.”
Ken Brown was serving when the highway department building was constructed. “I was on the garage committee,” said Brown. “The committee researched, made visits and recommendations.”
“The Belleayre expansion proposal is a long time in the making,” said Brown. “I am in favor of it and hope to see it help with revenue to the region.”
“If fracking can be proven safe, it would generate income,” said Brown. “I would at least consider it, because without revenue the economy in this county is in trouble. But, fracking isn’t allowed in the Watershed.”
“I’m not a gun owner or user, but I can see how the NY SAFE Act could affect owners,” said Brown.
“I’m not opposed to a county bed tax, however I need to do more research into this new topic of discussion in Delaware County,” said Brown. “I can see how the tax will not affect locals, because it is out-of-towners who come into the area to stay for a few nights or weeks.” Brown mentioned the fact that Bovina is now a semi-dry town, meaning alcohol can only be served in overnight establishments.
Ken Brown is interested in the equalization rate. “The issue of assessing property taxes is far reaching and in order to be equal it needs to be looked at carefully,” said Brown.
Ken Brown has lived in Bovina since 1976, is married, and has three grown children. He was a teacher and teaches part time today.
Incumbent Ed Weber, Republican and Independent (Better Roads), is finishing his first elected term. “I was appointed highway superintendent in 2007 and then elected to fulfill the position,” said Ed Weber, who has lived in the area all his life.
“The highway department has been restructuring the roads,” said Weber. “Many of the roads are dirt and it takes time to return the ditches and drainage back to the original design.” At the beginning of his term, Weber had equipment issues to deal with, but after years of considerable maintenance the equipment has become more reliable now.
“Right now we are repairing a bridge on Bovina Road, partially paid for by FEMA, through a federal program. It’s important to be aware of ways to repair roads outside the town budget,” said Weber. “In the 2014 budget, the highway department received a reduction in funds. As superintendent, I will work with the funds allotted.”
Ed Weber is married and he and his wife have a dairy. “My wife manages the dairy,” said Weber. “We have two grown boys.”
Brian McIntosh, on the Republican and Independent (Common Sense) lines, said, “I have nine years of previous working experience with the Town of Bovina. I know the importance of clearing the roads ahead of the school buses and I’m especially interested in initiating a dust- control program for the Bovina roads.”
Having more than 50 miles of roads, the dust can overwhelm the atmosphere. “The town already has a water truck and I am willing to purchase used good equipment and tanks to set up for dust control,” said McIntosh. “Working within the town budget is definitely a goal of mine.”
Brian McIntosh has lived his whole life in Bovina and is currently employed with Clark Companies. “I travel a lot, but am agreeable to stay near home and work on the roads. I also would be able to respond to the fire department’s needs while working in the town,” explained McIntosh, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 18 years and is now assistant chief of the department.
“I am familiar with the town highway shop and equipment operations,” added McIntosh. “I’ve operated the grader and plow and look forward to again maintaining all the roads.”
Town of Halcott
The Greene County Town of Halcott, which has more in common with Delaware County due to its proximity to the Town of Middletown, sees a full slate of local candidates this election.
Don’t look for any hotly contested races though. All are incumbents, seeking to keep their respective position, and all are running unopposed.
Innes Kasanof is on the ballot again to become Town Supervisor and Kenneth Williams seeks another turn on the bench as the Halcott Town Justice.
Alan White and Chris DiBenedetto also plan on returning in January as Town Councilmen, and Patricia L. Warfield plans on being Town Clerk again.
Rounding out the ballot are Russell C. Bouton seeking reelection as the Superintendent of Highways and Robin M. White, who will return as town Tax collector.
On the County level, Halcott voters must choose one of three candidates to serve as State Supreme Court Justice in the 3rd Judicial District. Running are Democrat Richard J. McNally, republican Carol Donnelly Stevens and Working Families Party candidate w. Dennis Dugan.
Town of Hardenburgh,
Several races will be decided in the Town of Hardenburgh during next week’s elections.
Former supervisor Jerry Fairbairn, who is running as an Independent under the Taxpayers’ Party, will challenge Republican Supervisor Paul Ohsberg.
Two positions on the town board are up for election. Republicans seeking re-election will be Sherry Bellows and Doug Odell. Democratic candidates John Sackel and William Schluter will challenge for seats on the board.
Democratic Clerk/Tax Collector Thomas Delehanty will be running unopposed for re-election.
Town of Middletown
Longtime resident of Middletown, Nelson Delameter’s number one priority is economic revitalization. Republican and Independent (honesty), Delameter says, “Near and dear to me is to help local businesses and build jobs.”
He sees hope in the proposed Belleayre ski and resort expansion. “I know some people think Belleayre will only offer minimum wage jobs, however, a five-star hotel will have more premium jobs. It is going to need to hire quality employees and this provides a chance to keep the young people here.”
Delameter has seen too many young people leave the area after graduating from high school. “With a superior resort, our children can get the training and return home to work at Belleayre,” he said.
As far as fracking, Delameter doesn’t get stressed over it. “Middletown is in the New York City Watershed and as of now, there is no fracking allowed in the Watershed, therefore fracking is a moot point,” said Delameter. “If and when that circumstance changes, I suspect the Environmental Protection Agency will have discovered and implemented a safe method of gas extraction. I read that in Canada, they use propane to extract rather than harmful chemicals.”
“When it comes to the NY SAFE Act,” said Delameter, “The long and short is that it’s not guns that kill, but people who kill people. The act was rushed and passed inappropriately without discussion.”
Delameter is aware that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors has been considering a bed tax. “I would have to research a bed tax more,” said Delameter. “I’m not for or against it. I realize we need to spend money to return money, however the people are taxed to death. If we are going to rely on tourism for income, a bed tax can be helpful but I would need to look at all the possibilities and vote for the best answer for the county.”
Delameter expresses a serious concern over the current spending occurring in the Town of Middletown. “In my opinion, the administration has increased spending $400,000 over the last two years and I believe it’s been done by using ‘rainy day’ funds. It can’t go on. The spending needs to be addressed. The governing body can’t be making all the decisions for the people. I aim to return the government back to the people and the people and administration work together.”
Marjorie Miller, finishing out a two-year term as Middletown Supervisor, will be on the Democratic and Independent (Liberty Belle) lines. “The board is currently working on the 2014 budget,” said Miller. “We also are preparing a fracking survey as well as working on flood mitigation and planning.”
In regard to the Belleayre ski and resort proposal, Supervisor Miller said, “I am thrilled by the progress being made with the Belleayre Resort, which should be through the permitting process by no later than March of 2014. This project and the employment opportunities it presents are vital to Middletown, where 28 percent of our children under 18 are living below the poverty line and another 10 percent are living just above it. The resort is also a return to our past as a tourist destination but in an up-to-date manner supported by the greenest technology currently available.”
Marjorie Miller is not in favor of fracking in Middletown, because it hasn’t yet been proven to be safe for its water. “Fracking is not consistent with our presence as a rural small town community with a strong second home owner segment,” added Miller. “Middletown is one of the premier tourist destinations for the New York City/ New Jersey Metro area residents.”
After the NY SAFE Act passed, Marjorie Miller asked Governor Cuomo and his staff to work with Senator Seward, Assemblyman Lopez, herself, and other county leaders to create common sense exemptions for rural upstate areas such as Delaware County. “The population of Delaware County is under 75,000, and the NY SAFE Act is punishing for rural residents where there is little or no crime,” said Miller. “The local population both understands and respects guns.”
The proposed bed tax in Delaware County has been pondered by incumbent Miller, who said, “Delaware County is one of only a few counties in New York State without a bed tax. I believe the bed tax is needed to level the playing field with our Catskill neighbors of Ulster and Sullivan county, where over $1.5 million is used to promote and market tourist attractions in those counties. As it stands, Delaware County spends only $190,000 on marketing. When considering a bed tax, I keep in mind that for every $1 spent by someone on a hotel room, $7 are spent by them in the wider community, money our Main streets need. So, I support the bed tax.”
Supervisor Miller and the Middletown Town Board have recently adopted the preliminary budget. A public hearing is set for November 6 at 7 p.m. at the town hall. “I was pleased, as budget director, to be able to keep the budget under the two percent tax cap (1.5 percent after modification),” said Miller. “This was accomplished while still adding the community benefits of $5,000 to the food pantry and increasing donations to Middletown Historical Society, Delaware County Historical Association, the American Legion, Delaware Opportunities, and the Old Stone Schoolhouse.”
George Brown, Republican, is motivated to diversify the outlook of the town council. “I’m not one of the good old boys and can offer a different purpose to this town I love,” said Brown, who has been living in Middletown for 14 years.
George Brown became politically motivated a year ago and has an interest in what the town is doing. “I think the Catskill Recreation Center on Route 38 is a good concept, however it must be accessible to everyone, not just a select few. The cost to use the facility can’t be exorbitant.”
“I am not for the proposed Belleayre Ski Center and resort expansion,” said George Brown. “I don’t think the local people will receive much benefit. Big businesses like that only hire part timers. Seasonal jobs make it difficult for people to pay their bills, therefore I can see in the future that Delaware County will be paying the medical expenses for those part-time workers.
Brown shows skepticism in regard to fracking, saying, “I’ve seen things go wrong when they are jumped into too fast. I am not an expert and can’t say one way or the other.”
“We have enough restrictions on guns,” said Brown. “The NY SAFE Act went one step too far.”
Brown supports no more taxes. “Delaware County does not need a bed tax,” said Brown. “We can’t afford any more taxes.”
Brown works for Delaware Opportunities as a driver. “This is a beautiful area and I will work to keep it beautiful and affordable to live here.”
Independent, Dean Hunter, seeks a council seat, saying, “I love this area. I know and I get along with people, meaning I know I can get along with whoever is on the board to get things done.”
With the desire to see more new businesses move into the Town of Middletown, Hunter also realizes there is a need to bring in what will keep young people here.
“I am absolutely for the Belleayre expansion,” said Hunter. “The proposed ski and resort design for that project would appeal to young people.”
“The NY SAFE Act has some good points,” said Dean Hunter. “But, I think they pushed it through legislation too fast. I hunt and think handguns should be allowed. When considering the Second Amendment, we have to realize the times have changed. The founding fathers did not have automatic weapons. The present day culture needs to be taken into consideration when making laws.”
“We need to bring more people here. And, more taxes are not attractive,” said Hunter. “In fact, I see no reason why we can’t cut back on taxes. The taxes are too high. Why can’t the budget stay the same? Instead of trying to keep the budget under a two percent increase, keep it the same, with no increase.”
Self-employed in the construction business, Hunter sympathizes with the need to keep a budget that doesn’t make living unaffordable.
“After the flooding, the concern of cleanup and dredging streams is apparent,” said Hunter. “In the construction business, we raise houses above the flood level, but this is expensive. Homeowners who can’t afford to raise the house level or pay the taxes are tempted to sell the land to New York City. I wish New York City would stop buying land.”
Hunter is thinking through the suggested bed tax in Delaware County.
In his college days, Dean Hunter earned a computer programming degree. He has been married 17 years and has a 15-year-old daughter attending Margaretville Central School.
“I love this area and would like to see my daughter be able to live in a thriving community,” said Hunter.
On the Republican line and Independent (Square Deal), Jacob Rosa (known to most as Jake) is an incumbent.
“The board has been working on flood recovery for the last two years,” said Rosa. “The recovery work has been moving forward, however I’m careful not to pass legislation that would hurt Middletown in the future.”
Juxtaposed with flood recovery are flood buyouts. “New York City, under the constraint to buy land, can buy out property that has been flooded. This makes for a tricky situation because where there was once a home, and a rather high tax assessment, the city can purchase the property, remove any structure, and pay lower taxes under a lower assessment attributed to vacant land, which is what NYC wants.”
“I’ll be glad if the Belleayre expansion goes through,” said Rosa. “We need more jobs here.”
Jake Rosa is also careful about banning fracking. “The town would be foolish to ban fracking,” said Rosa. “The track record of NYC is that they will pay funds, a lot of funds, to keep their water clean. If fracking is allowed in New York State, the city will pay to keep fracking out of the watershed and if Middletown has a ban, they might very well skip over us with any funding.”
“As it stands, Middletown land in the watershed receives money for different projects, including replacing septics,” said Rosa.
“I’m not a fan of the NY SAFE Act,” said Rosa. “It was poorly written. It should be repealed and done properly. Law abiding citizens have a right to protect themselves and the SAFE Act only harms the law abiders.”
“I’m skeptical about a bed tax,” said Rosa. “Tourism is important and more charges might run them off. However, more important is to realize that tourism is only the gravy. A tourism economy is not sustainable. We need to tap into our resources, such as timber.”
Jake Rosa has skills in heavy equipment operation and has worked with the Town of Middletown Highway Department. He has been self-employed at Dry Brook Custom Sawmill and Logging since 2005.
Michael Finberg, on the Democratic and Independent (Progress 4 Us) lines, has occupied on a town-council seat for 16 years.
“I’ve served under different supervisors belonging to different parties, and the last two years, the board has been able to stay under the two percent tax cap,” said Finberg. “The highway equipment and maintenance is kept up to date, and a number of grants have been acquired to improve infrastructure.”
“After watching the town hall furnace flood out four different times, I supported Supervisor Miller’s idea to move the furnace upstairs,” said Finberg. “The board is also currently in the process of moving forward with plans to create a double entry door foyer in town hall to make heating and cooling more efficient.”
“The proposed Belleayre Ski and Resort expansion is a linchpin we can use for further economic development,” said Finberg. “It would bring more jobs which would make our area a bigger destination to visit. There is little else on the horizon for growth. I am in favor of the expansion and hope it comes true.”
“If, and when, fracking becomes a reality, I think the chemicals must be in fact safe,” said Finberg. “My knowledge to date, is that the chemicals pollute water therefore my position is to protect the water.”
“The attempt to mitigate violence through gun restrictions, such as the NY SAFE act, allows us to feel something is being done,” said Finberg. “But we can’t take guns out of the hands of responsible gun owners.”
As far as a bed tax, Finberg said, “Rather than increase fees or taxes, I think the county government should look at ways to offset expenses. The county needs to get a handle on spending. They’ve discussed saving money by abolishing the office of medical examiner and reestablishing the office of coroner and I think they should continue looking at this issue to better use the funds they have rather than add more taxes.”
Michael Finberg and his wife raised their boys in Middletown. He owns and operates Margaretville Bowl. “I will put Middletown first, and make decisions with all the citizens in mind,” said Finberg.
Warren Slavin, on the Independent ballot as Tax Payers Party, lives in Fleischmanns.
“I’m on the zoning board of appeals in the Town of Middletown and am ready to serve as the town justice,” said Slavin. “We need to stop locking up people who are not violent.”
“It cost Americans $1 billion, every two days, to care for the 2.2 million people in jails and prisons,” said Slavin. “Up to 95 percent of those people are poor and have no political power, so we taxpayers end up paying the bill while they are in jail on misdemeanors. The costs incurred are not only food and medical care but money goes to social services, lawyers, welfare workers, and sheriffs.”
“Those arrested for minor offenses can go on house arrest,” explained Slavin. “If they have a job, they can return to the job. They can earn money and pay taxes rather than make taxpayers take care of them. Those arrested for drugs and alcohol can be given treatment.”
“Instead of locking up minor offenders, as a town justice, I will work the extra hours to look after their treatment and keep track of how they are doing,” said Slavin, who has a career background in social work.
“If we stop punishing those who don’t commit serious crimes, we will stop punishing ourselves with high taxes to pay for the costs involved in incarceration.”
Warren Slavin now has an auto parts business selling parts on E-bay.
“It was as a clinical social worker, though, that I learned that the real offenders, the violent people who perform heinous actions can’t be cured. They need to be locked up. As judge, I’d lock the serious offenders up and throw away the key.”
On the Democratic line, John R. Fairbairn III, seeks the vacant town justice seat. “I’ve been practicing law in Margaretville for over six years,” said Fairbairn. “I’m very aware that practicing law is different from being a judge, but am willing to fill both positions to keep up with the caseload in the Town of Middletown.”
After graduating from Margaretville Central School, Fairbairn earned an undergraduate degree from Binghamton University.
“I earned my law degree at Albany Law School, graduating in 2006,” said Fairbairn. After practicing at a law firm in Margaretville, Fairbairn ventured out on his own with Fairbairn Law, PC, in 2009.
His work extends to the Town of Hardenburgh and the villages of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. “My motto is that each case and each person requires and deserves fairness, diligence and dignity,” said Fairbairn.
“My background and experience will be valuable in the town justice seat,” said Fairbairn. “I am familiar with the jurisdiction of the court and procedure for violations.”
Fairbairn has two young children with his wife, Courtney . “I married my high school sweetheart,” he said.
Town of Roxbury
Tom Hynes, on the Democratic and Independent (Progress Party) lines, has served as Town of Roxbury Supervisor since 1984. “The latest projects of pumping Roxbury water to Grand Gorge was combined with pumping Roxbury sewage to the Grand Gorge sewage treatment plant,” said Hynes. “The project took a while, but now Grand Gorge has decent water and the residents and businesses in Roxbury have less septic worries.”
“I’ve been in favor of the proposed Belleayre expansion from day one,” said Hynes. “It would be a tremendous boost to the whole Catskill Region. We need it. I can see it bringing more people and recreation.”
“I keep an open mind when considering fracking,” said Hynes. “There are pros and cons and I believe more research needs to be done.”
“The NY SAFE Act has an emotional element,” said Hynes. “I was a hunter in my early days. Americans don’t like to be told what they can and can’t do. Maybe the gun restriction went too far.”
“I’m talking with Roxbury businesses in regard to the proposed bed tax for the county,” said Tom Hynes. “I’m not 100 percent for it, and need to get a better feel for what the people think about a bed tax.”
“During my terms of service, the Roxbury Board built a new highway garage,” said Hynes. “Currently, we are working on a plan to assess property equally in the town.”
“With grant funding, many village businesses have been able to improve their property,” said Hynes. “I’ve also been a part of the restoration projects of the barns at Kirkside Park for community use. This is a place that residents and visitors can visit for free.” Tom Hynes also wants to keep the Grand Gorge Civic Center, the ball field, and playground in good shape.
Running for the supervisor’s seat, William Walcutt, on the Independent (Lower my Taxes) line, offers a choice to the voters. Walcutt has an interest in creating a viable environment for younger people who need to make a living. “The schools are shriveling and there are no jobs,” said Walcutt.
“I am absolutely in favor of the proposed Belleayre resort expansion.”
“If fracking can be done responsibly, I am all for it, however the Department of Environmental Protection will never allow fracking in the Watershed,” said Walcutt. “But the neighboring counties can be benefited by the economic growth and be part of a stimulus to this dying region.”
William Walcutt has personally traveled to Pennsylvania and visited with people involved in fracking. Walcutt said, “I saw firsthand, that the Pennsylvanians were all for mining the gas because it has provided an improved economy. I did not hear complaints when talking with people in towns. Let’s get the dollars out of the ground and into people’s bank accounts.”
As for the idea of a bed tax, Walcutt said, “I oppose any new taxes. Roxbury has the highest taxes in Delaware County. The budget needs to be examined with a new eye to keep taxes down and reduce the road costs.”
He went on to say, “ Kirkside Park is a jewel in the town. I will take care of that asset and work to further promote tourism. The Grand Gorge Civic Center is a big part of the Town of Roxbury and can continue to be useful. I now have an immediate interest in helping those who experienced the loss because of fire. Becker’s Tire and Sundaes Restaurant need the town’s attention and help.”
Walcutt has three children and is self-employed. He and his family lives on the property his grandfather purchased back in the 1940s. He has 12 years of experience as Roxbury’s building inspector and is familiar with how a town board operates.
Allen Hinkley is finishing out his third term as councilman in Roxbury. On the Republican line, Hinkley, aims to continue keeping taxes down while providing services to residents of the Town of Roxbury.
“We are in the process of upgrading drainage in the middle of town,” said Hinkley. “It will be a big plus for the village to have the drain system from Lake Street to the river be rebuilt.”
“The Belleayre Ski and Resort expansion would be an important asset to the region,” said Hinkley. “But it needs to exist on the same playing field as privately owned ski resorts.”
“As far as fracking,” said Hinkley. “I am not a trained scientist and therefore I leave the decisions up to the professionals. If fracking can be proven safe, the added income would be important to our area.”
“At the state level, I feel the NY SAFE Act should be repealed,” said Hinkley. “I’m a strong supporter of gun rights and I think the state government went overboard with that act.”
“Tourism is a strength in Delaware County,” said Hinkley. “The county board of supervisors is considering a bed tax, however, I’m not sure we need more taxes. We already have sales tax and the fewer the taxes the better. Then Delaware County can compete with surrounding counties.”
Allen Hinkley has lived in the area all his life. He is married and has two grown daughters. “I currently am the Roxbury Fire Department Chief,” said Hinkley, a self-employed businessman in telecommunications.
Incumbent, and on Republican ballot line, Gene Cronk said, “As a member of the council, I feel the Roxbury Town Board has made good accomplishments. The board has stayed under the two percent tax cap budget increase.” Gene Cronk also was involved in the monumental tasks of getting water to Grand Gorge from Roxbury, and sewer from Roxbury to Grand Gorge.
“Grand Gorge’s water is not good and Roxbury’s water is great,” said Cronk. “A seven-mile-long pipe was buried in the old railroad path and that line now provides good water to Grand Gorge residents. Another line takes sewage from Roxbury to the Grand Gorge waste treatment plant.”
“Start,” said Cronk in regard to fracking. “I think they should tap into the natural gas as a resource. I even ask myself if New York City will eventually drill for the money, but I guess it won’t happen. It seems New York City wants the region to turn into a forever wild.”
A gun owner, and in regard to the NY SAFE Act, Gene Cronk said, “I am for background checks, but it gets to be a problem when they make more restrictions.” Gene Cronk recently bought a gun at an auction, saying, “I filled out all the proper paperwork.”
“Tourism brings people and their money to this area, but I’m against a bed tax,” said Gene Cronk. “We are taxed enough. The school and land taxes are too high. While on the Board, I work hard to keep the taxes down.”
In spite of repeated attempts, Melony D. Lee, a candidate for town council on the Democratic line, could not be reached for an interview.
Town of Shandaken
By Jay Braman Jr.
All four candidates for Shandaken Town Board got together Saturday at town hall to participate in a pre-election forum held by the League of Women Voters.
There are two seats up for grabs on the town board this year, each with a four-year term. Running on the Republican line are incumbent Jack Jordan and newcomer Frank Stapleton. On the Democrat line will be current Planning Board member Faye Storms and former town councilman Tim Malloy.
Saturday’s session, which ran for just under an hour, gave all four a chance to express views on topics ranging from hydrofracking to the proposed Belleayre Resort.
All four oppose hydrofracking, but with slightly different reasoning. Storms called the process “a total negative.” Malloy said the process was just too volatile and added that “just the word makes me nervous.” Stapleton is against it as well, and Jordan said the process was questionable, but noted that Shandaken is not a territory that would yield much natural gas anyway. “Its not profitable here,” he said.
As for the Belleayre Resort, a $400 million proposal slated for the Highmount area, Jordan said he supported it as long as it passes all of the environmental hurdles of the review process. Stapleton also said he favors the project. Storms said she could not comment on it because the project is set to come before the planning board for review where she and the other volunteers on that board will be working with a hired consultant to scrutinize the project.
It was Malloy that had the most to say about the plan, which calls for two hotels, a championship gold course and all the amenities of a destination resort.
Not a good fit
He said that, if approved, he believes the construction of the project will put a strain on the town. To protect Shandaken, he said, the right mix of people will be needed on the town planning and zoning boards. A diverse group is needed, he said, meaning those boards should not get “stacked” with pro-development types or hard-core opponents of the proposal.
He also offered insight into his own opinion, noting that the project has long been touted as one that will help bring prosperity to the area.
Malloy, who has been working in the food industry for over 30 years in Phoenicia, said that prosperity is already creeping in regardless.
“We’ve had the busiest year of our lives down there,” he said, referring to the Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina, where he works as a cook. “Do we really need a resort?”
The forum moved into talk about what types of development would be good for the town. Stapleton favors the tourism based approach, where projects such as the Belleayre Resort would become magnets for visitors. Jordan agreed, but emphasized that he also wants to see real employment opportunities locally, and not just in the tourism industry. Malloy feels that development should be focused on recreation with an emphasis on providing things for kids. He also thinks that business development should be encouraged in areas with existing infrastructure rather than building new.
“Let’s use the buildings we have,” he said.
Need more amenities
Storms had yet another focus, saying that the town needs to develop both senior and affordable housing. She also believes Shandaken is need of a small medical center to serve a population that sits 20 miles away from the closest such facility. Pointing out the success of the Pine Hill Community Center on the far western end of town, Storms thinks a similar community center should be encouraged for the eastern portion of Shandaken.
Storms also said what type of development she does not want to see in town: gambling.
All four were asked to offer their personal visions for the town.
Stapleton called Shandaken, “The jewel of the Catskills,” but lamented that he thinks it has lots much of its shine. For it to sparkle again, he said, the entire town must work together rather than hold onto a hamlet versus hamlet mentality.
Jordan wants to improve infrastructure, saying that the town still needs basic communication services in many areas, but if elected he would pressure Time Warner Cable to build deeper into the hollows and valleys. He wants expanded recreation opportunities and he wants to see more support given to the town’s emergency services like police/fire and ambulance departments. Jordan also noted that the constant turbidity problem in the Esopus Creek, which was once a world class Trout Stream, needs to be solved in order for anglers to once again be attracted to the stream.
Storms, who lost a lot of property during Hurricane Irene, said that all of the streams in town need repair. She also has her eye on encouraging development in Pine Hill, a hamlet that she says needs help.
Pointing to the recent success of several new businesses in the Phoenicia area where marketing savvy entrepreneurs have figured out how to consistently draw visitors, Storms sees Pine Hill as a hamlet where there can be similar success.
“Pine Hill is a resource,” she said. “It’s a matter of getting the right people to invest.”
Malloy sees the town as a place that is already growing, but most importantly one that needs the right leadership to make things happen.
His vision is of a town board that works together to serve as the leaders of the direction of that growth.
“Everybody wants to come here now,” he said. “Good town-board chemistry is needed.”