Friday, April 29, 2011

Amanda Sisenstein's Endorsement - My thoughts on the village election

I have been a resident of the Village of New Paltz for 11 years. I am on the Tenant Landlord Relations Council and the Community Advisory Committee of the Government Efficiency and Effectiveness Project. I am also involved in other community groups such as the Climate Action Coalition, the SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force. I am concerned about the results of the upcoming village elections. It is very important that we have the right person for mayor and the right people on the board of trustees. For these reasons I am sharing my opinions on some of the candidates.

I admire the candidates that I support for staying positive in their campaigns and not being negative towards their opposition. I in my many experiences in politics from local to the federal level also prefer to stay positive. However the truth is not always positive, and although I am doing my best to not be negative, I want people to know what is really going on.

The Mayor and the Board spend the majority of their time dealing with sewers, water, treatment and other infrastructural issues. However there are also important quality of life issues that the Village government also should address, such as environmental issues, tenant landlord issues, and socio-economic issues.

I am supporting Jason West for mayor. Please be aware that I voted for Jason when he first ran for mayor, but I did not vote for him when he ran for a 2nd term. He has learned much from his experiences (including losing his second election. I believe in his ability to do this job well and improve and protect the Village of New Paltz and it will be significantly more transparent, and more accessible to village residents than it has been in recent years.

Two of the candidates for Mayor, John Cohen and Pete Healey, although they are good people and have done much for the community, are not right for mayor. Their agendas are too narrowly focused while their specific ideas are too vague and underdeveloped. They simply lack the logistical skills necessary for the job.

Jean Gallucci, has a lot of experience with the village government, and I would like to see her remain on the village government, although not as mayor. I think she and Jason would work well together on the board, unfortunately this is not possible right now with this election. I am also worried that Jean becoming mayor may steer the village in the same direction that Terry Dungan has led it.

Ariana Bosco is my first choice for village trustee. I have worked with her on many issues and projects. She as the passion, intelligence, energy, and motivation that the village board needs. She cares deeply about this community and wants to protect whats great about it and make improvements where they are needed. She works constructively with and finds common ground with everyone. She will bring this same ethic to the board with whoever else ends up on the board.

There are only two people running for the two year position on the Village Board, Shari Osbourne and Stewart Glenn. I am supporting Shari Osbourne. She has years of experience on the Village Board. Stewart’s agenda is far too narrow. He and most of the others on Row B are narrowly focused on village consolidation and do not have much to say on other issues.

They believe that consolidation will fix all of the villages problems which they have made clear through their campaigns and in the debates and forums. Even if consolidation is the best option for our community, it will not solve even most of our problems.

I am not against consolidation as a potential option, but I and many others on the Community Advisory Committee are feel there is much more research to be done and many more questions to be answered before jumping to the coterminous consolidation. It should also be clear that before coterminous consolidation can happen an identical plan must pass the village and the town governments and then go to a town and village wide referendum. So this isn’t a matter of the village or town government voting and consolidating the two governments.

The consultants who have been hired to conduct this study have said as of April 25th that they do not know yet if coterminous consolidation would be best for our community and that although it may improve efficiency, this does not mean savings. This does not mean lowered taxes. In fact they stated that any savings, if there are any, will be marginal. Consolidation also has costs along with it. Especially in the first few years of consolidation. Some of these costs could be offset if we are able to obtain grants for this purpose. However we do not know yet, whether the costs and efforts of consolidation will be worth the potential benefits.
     Those in support of consolidation are throwing around statements that indicate that there will be savings resulting from consolidation. Coterminous does not mean lower taxes. And even if it does lower taxes, it does not mean the savings will be significant and worth the costs of consolidation.

With that being said, Sally Rhodes is another people who has done a lot for our community. She has done a lot for the Elting Memorial Library for example. However her latest pursuits I believe are narrowly focused and not what is best for the entire village community.

She has pushed aggressively for the noise ordinance that according to me and many others including people currently on the village board, needs more revision. She is also aggressively in support of coterminous consolidation, although she is on the steering committee for the Government Efficiently and Effectiveness Project.

As I said earlier the consultants who are conducting this study said they are not able to say at this point in the study that a coterminous village and town government is best for our community. This in my opinion is a conflict of interest that she has already come to this conclusion when she is on the board who is supposed to be guiding the objective study.

Sally Rhodes has also acted quite uncivilly towards people active in the community who have spoken publicly against the noise ordinance and coterminous consolidation of the town and village governments when the cameras are off and the public is not looking.

Although I do not claim that it is intentional, but the things she is pushing benefit a very small percentage of village residents while being potentially detrimental to the majority of village residents.

I urge you to vote for Jason West, Ariana Bosco, and Shari Osbourne. These candidates will represent the entire population of New Paltz, have all of the relevant issues in mind and do not have specific, one or two issue agendas. They will represent us all in a well-rounded way.

 These candidates will represent students, post-graduates, non-student single adults residents of all ages, people raising families, senior citizens, working families, and those from every socio economic status.

Also I would like you to ask yourself why is the one community (one government party as they have said themselves) on row B such a large slate? Is it perhaps because none of the candidates are strong enough to stand alone and run on their own?

I am not against the entire row B slate. And aside from the three that I mentioned I have not made my decision on the third trustee yet but I am leanging towards Emily Crocetti, Rick Bunt, or Martin Sherow.

If you have not already please watch the candidate forum
This is the most comprehensive coverage of the candidates. Thanks to the chamber of commerce for organizing it.

Amanda Sisenstein
 Feel free to share this if you share my thoughts on the village elections.

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