Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pictures from the Kick Off Party

Going West

By: Curtis Schick
He said he is a big fan of zoning problems and waste water treatment issues. And as our Curtis Schick shows us, the former mayor forever linked to much bigger issue - gay marriage - is throwing his hat back into the ring.

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- On a rainy Sunday afternoon, inside a restaurant on Main Street in New Paltz, you find a campaign season in full swing. The fundraiser asking price is small. Ten dollars is the suggested donation at the door. Thirty-six bucks gets you a free drink. It's all to support Jason West, the former small village Mayor who will is always tied to one big issue.

"I have a track record of taking principled stances, but also getting things done," said West.
Nearly seven years ago, West married dozens of gay couples. He was arrested, but later charges were dropped. It put West and the village of around 6,000 in the spotlight. But on election day 2007, New York State's first Green Party member elected mayor was bounced. Published reports at the time gave a variety of reasons - politics, maturity, asking for a raise, Ralph Nader.

"I don't regret any of the issues or policies I put forward," said West.

The 34-year-old painter says time off did him some good. He said he wants to finish the things he started four years ago - a traffic study for Route 32 among them. And while he does not walk away from the big issues tackled back then, he said he cares about the small ones too.

"I really do enjoy how the sewer plant works and finding ways we can make it better," said West.
Former Trustee Pete Healey is also running. Election day is May 3rd.

Flags go up Early candidates announce New Paltz Village Board run

by Erin Quinn
Clockwise from top left: Jason West, Pete Healey, Jonathan Cohen, Sally Rhoads, Stewart Glenn, and Ariana Basco.
Clockwise from top left: Jason West, Pete Healey, Jonathan Cohen, Sally Rhoads, Stewart Glenn, and Ariana Basco.

Although petitions are not due until March 29, some political hopefuls have already thrown their hats into the ring for the upcoming village elections, which will include a four-year term for mayor, two trustee seats for four-year terms and one trustee seat for two years.

Former Mayor Jason West, who lost to Terry Dungan four years ago, has announced that he is running. West, among many things, became most known for solemnizing 25 same-sex marriages in 2004, casting him in the international spotlight as a gay rights activist, and also causing him to have charges leveled against him by the Ulster County District Attorney. Those charges were later dropped.

West was also known as the first Green Party mayor in New York, and for his environmental initiatives, such as planting a reed bed at the sewage treatment plant, drafting a wetlands protection law and pursuing the creation of a bio-diesel plant for municipal use.

West said that he decided to run because he wanted to “finish what we started. There were so many projects that were critically important to the community that were put on hold by the current administration,” he said. “We had just formally adopted the Transportation and Land Use Study and that came to a screeching halt. The wetlands protection law was tabled indefinitely, the ban on chain stores, the B-3 rezoning. These are important projects to the health and vitality of our village and community, and I want to see them to completion.”

He also added that he wanted to “do more work towards growing and expanding our local businesses, protecting our housing market and making necessary environmental changes so that we can remain sustainable and vibrant.”

He has also been active in a community-wide ad hoc group of officials and residents attempting to challenge New Paltz’s high taxes, as well as working with GreenWorks on the greenhouse gas inventory.

Mayor Dungan, who recently suffered a stroke and is now completing occupational therapy at Woodland Pond, did not respond to the New Paltz Times query as to whether or not he’d be seeking a second term. At one point, prior to his medical condition, he did tell the Times Herald-Record that he would be running. More recently, a press release to the New Paltz Times stated that his physical health was steadily improving and that he would finish out his term as mayor.

Jean Gallucci, the deputy mayor, has stepped up to serve as the acting mayor in his absence. Although the acting mayor said she is giving serious thought as to whether she would seek a second term as a village trustee, she said that she has “not made my decision yet.”

Peter Healey, former village trustee and an active member of the New Paltz Government Efficiency Project Citizens Advisory Committee, has also announced that he will be running for mayor on a “One Government” party ticket along with village resident Sally Rhoads, who was formerly the school board president and president of Elting Library, Stewart Glenn and Martin Sherow.

Rhoads is seeking the shorter two-year term, while Glenn and Sherow are going after the full four-year term. Healey has yet to announce the fourth member of his slate.

Originally, Healey announced that he was going to run for a four-year trustee position, but then, after prodding, became convinced that he should run for mayor with a full slate of “One Government” candidates.

“It became apparent to me that there was no one interested in running for mayor who believed in and/or supported the concept of unified government for New Paltz,” said Healey, a steady advocate of consolidation. “Becoming mayor is the very best position to be in to ensure that the process moves forward, a plan is presented and a public referendum takes place.”

That said, Healey was quick to note that this was not a “one issue” race. “The current administration has been secretive to a fault, and the next administration needs to be open to a fault so that the public and the citizenry are fully engaged.”

Another self-pronounced candidate for mayor is Jonathan Cohen, owner of the Groovy Blueberry in the Village of New Paltz. Cohen has run for mayor once before, but his petition was successfully challenged, leaving him as a write-in candidate.

Local political blogger Jeremy Blabber announced on his blog that he had withdrawn his previously announced candidacy for mayor and instead, strongly endorsed West for the position.

As of press time, current village Trustee Shari Osborn had not responded to a New Paltz Times query about whether she intended to run for re-election.

Robert Feldman, who was appointed by the Village Board to replace the seat vacated by Patrick O’Donnell, said that he would finish up his year-long term, but would not run for any of the available seats.

Village resident and police commissioner Ariana Basco has said that she will be running for a four-year term on the Village Board, going solo on the “Positive Party” line.

“There is too much negativity in New Paltz politics right now, and I for one want to bring what’s possible and positive to the table,” she said.

Basco, 24, is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz. “I think that there are so many residents with so much to give that are not getting involved with local government, and I think I could help bridge that gap. We need their assistance and input.

“I’m someone without an agenda. I just want to see the village be more sustainable, strengthen our local retail, agricultural and SUNY New Paltz connections in a way that makes it economically and socially viable for all.”

Thus far, these are the candidates who have notified or identified as official candidates to this paper. The petitions are due on March 29. When petitions are official, this paper will conduct full interviews with all prospective candidates. The village election will be held on Tuesday, May 3.

Jason West makes another run for mayor

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- The man who made headlines seven years ago for illegally marrying same sex couples in the Hudson Valley makes another run for office, looking to hold a seat in government that he's already held.

Jason West says he will run for Mayor of New Paltz on behalf of the Cooperative Party Line. He previously held the office from 2003 to 2007.

On February 27th, 2004, 24 same-sex couples were married by then-Mayor Jason West. The marriages were annulled in 2006.

West will officially kick off his campaign this Sunday at the 36 Main Restaurant. Current mayor Terry Dungan beat out West in the 2007 elections. He has just finished a course of acute rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital. Dungan suffered a stroke on Christmas Day, but has remained active in managing village affairs.

'Marrying mayor' wants his old job back

'Marrying mayor' wants his old job back

West, speaking at a New Paltz
Pride rally in 2005
NEW PALTZ – Former New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who put the village on the international map by performing same-sex marriages in 2004, wants another shot at the job.  He will run for mayor on May 3.

West, 34, has lived in the village since he was 17 but moved to California for six months after losing a bid for a second term in 2007. That convinced him to return to the place where he said he belongs – New Paltz.

As far as those same-sex marriages, if he could, he would do them all over again.

“If it had the same effect, if it would do good for the issue, I’m incredibly proud of that and I stand behind everything I did around those same-sex marriages,” he said.

While New York still does not allow same-sex marriages, it now does acknowledge legal rights of same-sex partners who were married in other states.