Three candidates for Shandaken Town Board participated in a candidates forum Monday, outlining their views of what is important for the community and ideas for resolving some of the issues facing the town. In the third of three candidate events sponsored by the News, Rob Stanley, who is seeking reelection as Town Supervisor, was joined by Republican candidates Ken Booth and Kyle Steen for the question and answer session, held at the Emerson and live-streamed on Facebook and video taped for later viewing.
The Democratic challenger for Supervisor, Brian Powers, who is also the chair of the Democratic party in Shandaken declined to participate in the event, announced August 28. Instead, Powers set up his own competing event to be held at the same time and date as the News forum, but staged at the taxpayer subsidized town hall. WIOX Radio, which had, with the News co-hosted and live broadcast similar events in Roxbury and in Middletown, was forced to back out of broadcasting the Shandaken event because of the division Powers created.
Moderators for the event were News Reporter Eddie Donoghue, who has handled the duties at all three candidate events this year. Donoghue covers Shandaken on a regular basis but like co-moderator Andy Cahill, lives in Margaretville. Cahill stepped in to assist on the event when WIOX learned it could not participate in Shandaken.
In short opening statements, each of the three candidates present outlined their qualifications for the posts they were seeking. Stanley spoke of his accomplishments during his tenure on the board. In addition to bringing the town “back” from serious flooding, he spoke of relationships he has created with other governmental agencies and other communities that have resulted in major benefits to Shandaken. In addition to re-building infrastructure and enhancing communication, Stanley also pointed to improvements in parks and other town facilities during his administration.
Booth, who brings a masters degree in business administration and a concentration in information systems management cited work on the ambulance crew and years of volunteer experience as he raised his children in the community. Steen, a native son who graduated from both Phoenicia Elementary and Onteora High School, noted his work in service industries and desire to bring people together. Saying he has no “agenda” he expressed eagerness to dive into Shandaken issues and look for new solutions.
On some of the biggest issues facing Shandaken, the candidates had similar view points but different priorities. Stanley and Steen both spoke about the importance of Short Term Rentals to the community and looked to balance regulations with opportunities for homeowners. “Owners of STRs should have to follow the same rules as other businesses,” said Stanley. Booth expressed deep concern about the health and safety issues posed by STRs. Saying rentals should be inspected, Booth cited concerns that they have smoke and CO2 detectors, appropriate access for first responders in emergencies. Booth suggested water tests might be needed and raised a concern about insurance issues noting that homeowner policies might not cover the business operations of an STR.
All three candidates felt that for cleaning up the community, existing laws and codes should be adequate if they were appropriately enforced. And while they felt that the current code enforcement officer is doing a good job, they all indicated it might be necessary to get additional help in the department.
Comprehensive plan outdated
All three candidates spoke to a need to review the town’s Comprehensive Plan. “2005 to now is a long stretch,” said Steen. “It needs to be updated!” Steen added that the priorities and needs of the people living in the community have likely changed and should be considered. Booth said that small tweaks to building and zoning laws based on a comprehensive plan would not be adequate. “We need to do something in an all encompassing form,” said Booth. Stanley noted that since the last look at the plan, “technology has changed, development patterns have changed and our ideas about what our communities need have changed. We can’t even imagine the changes still coming,” he added saying he supported an update of the plan.
Other issues tackled at the forum included affordable housing, the need for cell service and the role that town board members should play in economic development.
Candidate profiles on all of the Shandaken Town Board candidates will appear in next week’s News. The video tape of Monday’s event will be posted on You Tube.