Margaretville candidates bring varied backgrounds

By Matthew J. Perry
The Village of Margaretville will field two candidates for the board of trustees on March 18. Since there are two seats to fill, the outcome likely will not be a nail-biter, which is regrettable to Iris Mead, who is running for her fourth term.
“I wish there were more candidates,” she says. “But at least there’s a choice to be made about our mayor.”
Barring a successful write-in candidacy, Mead will return to the board with Wallace Patterson, who at 25 years old will be making his debut as a public servant. He will replace John VanBenschoten, who gave up his trustee’s seat to run for mayor against Carol O’Beirne.
“A lot of people have stepped forward to assert themselves in their communities,” Patterson says. “I’m looking forward to helping Margaretville get its economy back up, attracting professionals and young people to the area.”
Mead, who works as events coordinator at the MARK Project, first came to the board of trustees in 2003. She expressed angst over hard economic times that have challenged local business. “It’s worse than ever lately,” she said.
Both candidates are enthusiastic about the arrival of the Freshtown Market and discussed its potential benefits to the village. Mead expects to work with the Katz brothers—Freshtown’s owners—on landscaping plans for the parking lot across the street from the market. Patterson anticipates that the store could act as a hub to which other businesses can connect. “It’s really given Margaretville a leg up.”
Mead calls renegotiating the village’s contract with the Middletown-Hardenburgh Fire District, which will expire in 2012, one of the biggest chores facing the board in the coming term. She is also anxious to see the completion of the village’s comprehensive plan, which has already consumed months of her labor.
She argues that the plan can extend the protection created by town zoning laws. “After two years of putting my heart and soul into this, I see that the plan can be a guideline to help the village grow but remain a village.” It is also meant to encompass the concerns of both full and part time residents. “We scheduled a lot of the informational meetings on weekends, so that we could reach everyone and get their input.”
Like most local officials, she is concerned by the proposed freezing of tax rates on state-owned lands, as well as reassessment battles with New York City. “We’ve managed in recent years not to raise taxes, and I hope people realize that,” she says. “But every year it gets harder.”
Mead also expressed hope that the village’s ongoing dispute with Margaretville resident Lauren Davis, which has resulted in the Binnekill stream running dry, will be resolved.
Patterson, who operates Sunstone Marketing, which also offers graphic design services, is outspoken in his support for Belleayre Mountain and the Crossroads development. He rejects the argument that the droves of people who visit the mountain cannot be lured a few miles west to spend their money in Margaretville. “People have said for a long time that Belleayre folks don’t come this way,” he says. “But we can put new markets and products here that could attract them.”
Part of that effort would require the village to make a concerted effort to define itself as a destination, he says. “If you look at Roxbury, you see they did a great job giving their village an identity. Margaretville has to be a destination.”
Both candidates have deep roots in the region. Mead was born in Halcottsville and graduated from Roxbury Central School. After spending 20 years living in first San Francisco and then Chicago, she returned to Delaware County in 1993.
Patterson’s parents own Teathyme Herb Farm in Margaretville. He grew up in Denver Vega, attended both Roxbury and Stamford schools, and graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006. He comes to the position with a keen interest in supporting local businesses.
“I’m always interested in listening to what vendors have to say,” he says. “I want to support the improvements they feel will help the local economy.”