Roxbury election races are heating up

By Pauline Liu
With merely three weeks left before Election Day, many local political races are heating up, including those in Roxbury.

Three Democratic incumbents holding key offices, face challenges from Republicans, who are also running on the independent line. While the incumbents are running on their experience and track records, the challengers are demanding change. Incumbent Town Supervisor Tom Hynes will face challenger Bill Walcutt in November. Walcutt is currently Roxbury’s building inspector.

Tom Hynes has spent the last 28 years as Roxbury Town Supervisor. He hopes to continue to serve the town he loves. “I enjoy the work,” he said. “I enjoy the people. I enjoy the town. We always have taxes on our mind and we try to keep taxes down. For 2011-2012, we show a flat budget. If you’ve followed my work for 28 years, what we have accomplished is quite a bit.“ Asked about the greatest accomplishments during his tenure, Hynes offered this response. “We’ve brought water to Grand Gorge,” he said. “We’ve brought municipal sewer service to Roxbury and Hubbell Corners. We built the new highway garage for the safety of our employees.”

Walcutt, meanwhile, is making taxes and economic development his platform. His campaign ad in last week’s News, began with, “Where are your taxes going? SSHHHHHH-It’s a SECRET.” He feels there is a need for more transparency in local government. He also wants to see more businesses spring up in Roxbury. “I would like Roxbury to become a wedding destination,” he said. Walcutt and town council candidate Joe Aulino took part in a Meet the Candidates forum at the Roxbury Firehall last Saturday. Though only one attendee showed up at the beginning of the event, the Republicans plan to hold two more forums. One at the Grand Gorge Civic Center Dining Hall on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 5:30 p.m. and another at the Roxbury Firehall on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

Democratic incumbents Steve Walker and Ed Raeder will face off against Republican challengers Joe Aulino and Carol Murray. Town council members serve four-year terms. Walker is a building contractor, who has already served three terms. “I served two terms, then went on a six-year hiatus and then I returned,” he said. “When we have a situation like the flood, my experience helps Roxbury get the most assistance from the state and federal government. The town would be happy to work with anyone who wants to open or maintain a business. Our taxes in this town have been very level. We’ve been good stewards of taxpayer money. We need to be optimistic about the future and prudent about the present.”

Aulino explained that he is a challenger in the town council race because he, like Walcutt, would like to see local businesses grow. Aulino feels he has a personal stake in the town’s economic development, since he owns Country Pride Realty on Main Street in Roxbury. Since he serves as
EMS captain for Roxbury, he said he is no stranger to public service.

Incumbent Raeder, who is from Grand Gorge, has served four terms on the town council and he hopes voters will elect him to another term. “I feel we have kept taxes even and we’ve tried to keep the budget as tight as possible,” said Raeder, who works as a driver for the Stamford Farmers’ Coop. “We got water to Grand Gorge and sewers to Roxbury. We’ve done a lot with the arts. We’ve done a lot in 16 years. I like representing the town. After all, I’m Grand Gorge born and raised here.”

Challenger Murray of Grand Gorge explained that she is specifically interested in the seat held by fellow resident and incumbent, Raeder. “I would just like to do the job,” she said. “I don’t think people should stay at the same job for years. There needs to be different points of view. Let’s have a change. People encouraged me to run because it would be a good way to serve the community.”

Murray and her husband own Red’s Auto Supply in Prattsville, which was damaged by floodwaters on August 28. She has been busy with the clean up, but hopes to reopen the store next month.
Roxbury Highway Superintendent Steve Schuman, Town Clerk Diane Pickett and Tax Collector Joan Moore are running for re-election unopposed. Schuman has already served two, two-year terms. Pickett has been in office since 1994. Thanks to a referendum passed by Roxbury voters last year, the length of the terms for both Pickett and Schuman have been increased from two years to four years. That change will take effect with the start of their new terms.