Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jason West announces run for mayor in letter to the editor

I’d appreciate your vote on May 3

I believe that the role of government is to make life easier for people, and that the New Paltz Village Board has the ability to do so.

We need to make sure businesses can thrive and that those who want to can afford to live here. We need to keep taxes as low as we can and we need to leave New Paltz a cleaner, more thriving, better place than we found it.

We deserve a Village Board which respects their neighbors -- especially those they disagree with. We deserve a Village Board that is able to listen to ideas with an open mind and be able to recognize a good idea when they hear it.

I am proud of my accomplishments as mayor. Most rewarding were the small incidents. An elderly women who called in had tripped over a water line cap. A call to Bleu Terwilliger had it fixed within hours and she called back to thank us. A resident who called for help with stormwater flooding her basement, another who called because a sewer line was erupting in her driveway. We not only fixed the immediate problem (and quickly), but fixed the long-term infrastructure problems that led to these incidents in the first place.

Things have changed in the four years since I was mayor. My administration was able to cut taxes and had a million-dollar surplus. Now, the economy has crashed to a degree not seen since the Great Depression. Times have changed and we need to change with them.

There should be three priorities for the immediate future:

First is planning. We have critical studies either completed or underway. The Transportation and Land Use Study (shelved by the Village Board in 2007), the Master Plan review process, the Government Effectiveness Study and recommendations on rezoning. We need to commit to seeing these studies completed and commit to taking action on them.

Second is to attract smart, rational development. We need “infill development” -- expanding building on existing properties to encourage mixed-use commercial and residential development. This will save our surrounding farmland and wilderness, create more room for housing, more room for local business and increase tax revenue.

Third is you. “We the people” are the government. We need to open more avenues for you to get more involved. There is no New Paltz without you. Solutions lie in us working together. I believe in government transparency.

New Paltz expects its mayor to go the extra mile, to find the most environmental, innovative and cost-effective options.

In my last term as mayor, New Paltz established a ground-breaking reed bed system to digest solid waste and installed a 15-kilowatt solar panel array that has saved thousands of taxpayer dollars and kept tons of greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere. We invested over $4 million in infrastructure improvements, including a new water tower. We finally built the bath house. We installed new water lines, new sewer lines, built more sidewalks and stayed on budget.

We worked hard on a wetlands protection law, a law to ensure local businesses have preference over national chains, a riverbank stabilization project at the community gardens, created the Environmental Commission, Ethics Commission, Tenant-Landlord Relations Council, Affordable Housing Law and a Housing Board to implement it, began the first broadcasting of board meetings on Channel 23, established a user-friendly village website and recruited dozens of village residents to volunteer.

If elected, I will listen to every village resident. I will make sure that our volunteers, firefighters and employees are treated with dignity and respect. I will make sure the roads are paved and clean water comes out of the tap, and put our long-term needs ahead of short-term political gains. I promise to continue my passion for finding better, safer, more cost-effective ways to provide municipal services to all 7,000 of my neighbors. I would appreciate your vote May 3.

Jason West
New Paltz

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