2017-11-01 / Editorials



In schools, firehouses, churches and other polling places, people in small towns will make big decisions next week. There’s a lot at stake as the region struggles for some sort of economic sustainability that will allow kids growing up here to stay here and earn a living. And in areas where elections have been won or lost by just a single vote, the importance of getting out to cast a ballot can not be overstated. Every vote does matter.

While there are some places where good public servants are running unopposed, there are also some hot races that are going down to the wire. Serious voter registration drives this summer have added hundreds of new voters, mostly second homeowners, to the lists. How they will vote is anyone’s guess. But there will be an impact and no one can take any race for granted.

Though we’re watching all races with interest, we have really strong opinions on two. It should come as no surprise to our readers that the News is endorsing John Parete for re-election to the Ulster County Legislature this year. Parete, a Democrat and the incumbent legislator, was blindsided in a primary earlier this year, largely because he challenged County Executive Mike Hein. Kathy Nolan, who is well known for stopping the Belleayre Resort and for closing down the Catskill Mountain Railroad in Phoenicia got enough party stalwarts to win her spot on the ballot. The seat up for grabs serves residents of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive and Shandaken, which are heavily impacted by the publicly owned and controlled lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve and the New York City Watershed.

Nolan, who works for non-profit agencies like Catskill Mountain Keeper and volunteers for others like Catskill Heritage Alliance, is truly an obstructionist who puts the environment over the economy at every opportunity. These lands do not need more environmental protection than they already have and Nolan’s concept that a few more hiking trails will bring good jobs and a sustainable economy is flawed. Cliff Faintych, a Republican from Denning with no serious experience or standpoints on issues can be a spoiler in the race. In our opinion, if he or Nolan wins, the opportunity for balance between economic and environmental concerns will be lost.

Parete, who owns a business, creates jobs and works across party lines to solve problems, is a “get it done” sort of guy, in big ways and small. For six years in the legislature (where he was elected chairman by collecting votes from both Republicans and Democrats) Parete has kept budgets balanced and county tax levies down. At home, when a tuber’s life was lost at a “strainer” in the Esopus Creek, it was Parete who got some funding, cut through DEC red tape and got the mess cleaned up. When Oliverea residents were plagued with choking dust from a botched road job, it was Parete on the scene, calling in the crew to fix the problem. As a member of the ORDA Board of Directors, Parete has been instrumental in pulling funding to Belleayre, including $8 million for a new gondola to open this year. This Democrat is truly independent and he’s the best choice for the people of the 22nd. District.

Middletown races

In Middletown, a newcomer and an incumbent have worked hard behind the scenes and their efforts should be highlighted.

Julia Reischel has earned a seat on the Middletown Town Board. Since last spring, when she first considered running, she has demonstrated the qualities good community leaders share. She has a passion for the work, a willingness to learn and the desire to get out of the office and meet the voters. Reischel has talked not just to people to agree with her, but to people who might not. And she has not just talked. She has listened. At fairs, in grocery stores, in front of the post office, Reischel has been present to hear what’s bugging people and is ready to take on their issues.

During the campaign, Reischel was tested. When racist photos were pasted over her campaign signs, things could have gotten ugly. The candidate took it in stride, acknowledging that it hurt but not letting the ugly act of a single individual cast a shadow on the good things she hopes to achieve in her community. Reischel lives in the community, earns a living here, has a child in the school and is the face of the future. She’ll be a good town board member if elected.

Jake Rosa has earned re-election to the Middletown Town Board. His deep roots in the community, his understanding of infrastructure and his common sense approach to problem solving have served taxpayers well. It was Rosa who took the leadership role when New York City challenged the tax assessments on its treatment collection system. When former assessor Gary Marks increased the assessment $6 million to $12 million, Rosa defended it. When the City sued, others on the board wanted to settle, and were ready to pay New York City back for over assessing them. Rosa was like a dog with a bone.

Working with contractors in the area, Rosa was able to come up with base numbers to prove the assessment was correct. Supported by Supervisor Pat Davis and town board members Ken Taylor, Mike Finberg and Brian Sweeney, Rosa pushed for new numbers from engineering firms, who ultimately backed up his position. Faced with losing in court, the City agreed to settle the suit, and instead of dropping the assessment from $12 million to $6, it has been increased to more than $14 million. The impact of that has yet to be felt by taxpayers because it won’t kick in until next year. But taxpayers should be thanking Rosa with re-election.

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