Friday, April 29, 2011

New Paltz Times - Democracy at work by Mike Townsend

Democracy at work NEW PALTZ Village Board election draws out impressive 13 candidates
by Mike Townshend

Read more: New Paltz Times - Democracy at work NEW PALTZ Village Board election draws out impressive 13 candidates

Jason West, who is running for a second, non-consecutive term as mayor, said he’d like to see a New Paltz that people could afford to live in from college student, to young family, to homeowner all the way to senior citizens.

“I think anyone who wants to should be able to afford to live here,” West said. In a general way, the former mayor said he’d like to see New Paltz remain the kind of place that welcomed college students with open arms -- a diverse place where art could flourish.

West, who came to New Paltz in 1995 for college and graduated with a visual arts and history degree, has run a house-painting business in town. In terms of the problems he saw facing the village now, West said that “volunteers are leaving or not being recruited,” the village’s infrastructure needs continued and diligent repair and the morale at the New Paltz Fire Department still needs to recover from an all-time low -- which saw the chief resign and more than 20 volunteers quit the ranks within four years.

“But these are not new issues,” he said, adding that all new mayors inherited a laundry list of continuing problems to solve.

In defense of his time as mayor, West pointed to the various boards and subcommittees he’d helped to form -- including the Landlord-Tenant Relations Council, the environmental conservation group and the Senior Advisory Committee.

Specifically, West would like to grow local businesses by expanding the downtown area onto Route 32 -- allowing for newer businesses to gain a foothold. “We need more Main Street,” he explained.

Like Gallucci, West also said he’d use his first month in office to put his house in order at Village Hall. However, he stressed his desire to talk to village employees at all levels to learn where the problems were, and talking to the village engineer and lawyer to get a grounding on the current situation -- as well as getting to know the new board members.

If elected, West said he would likely spend 40 to 60 hours each week at Village Hall and would serve the office of mayor as a full-time commitment.


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