2015 Election Coverage
By The Gazette Editorial Committee
From Issue 28: Fall 2015
The 2015 Democratic Party Platform
IMPROVE THE TOWN
Invest wisely in the town’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings.
Improve Gardiner’s recreational opportunities for families, including facilities and programs.
Preserve and protect drinking water and wetlands.
Maintain support of the library as the town’s social and cultural center.
MAINTAIN FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE
Develop responsible budgets based on the needs of the community
Limit the tax burden on Gardiner property owners.
Use existing reserves to fund key infrastructure projects, without raising taxes.
Secure grants and donations to help fund important programs.
Encourage business development to increase the revenue base.
PRESERVE GARDINER’S CHARACTER AND OPEN SPACE
Preserve the small town nature of Gardiner and support the goals of the 2004 Master Plan.
Advance Gardiner’s Open Space Plan.
Support established policies that protect the Shawangunk Ridge as a natural and community resource.
CONTINUE TO ENHANCE EFFICIENT, GOOD
Continue to ensure open, inclusive government by encouraging participation by all members of the Gardiner community in town meetings and activities.
Encourage the community to serve on town organizations, including the town board, the Planning Board, the ZBA, the ECC, and the open space commission.
Promote a greater balance on the Planning Board between development and conservation interests.
The 2015 Unity Party Platform
After witnessing our national government struggling to do right while being restrained by party affiliation, we have decided to put aside party affiliations and support individuals based on their strengths and commitment to Gardiner. We need a local government to focus on the priorities of the entire town and to manage the town within its means. We plan to work with the townspeople to develop a list of priorities that best benefit the town and then responsibly manage the activities and funds available to accomplish these goals. We proudly support the following candidates from all parties, a team we feel will bring UNITY back to the Town of Gardiner.
Town Supervisor candidate Marybeth Majestic has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz with a major in Political Science and minors in Journalism and Speech Communication. Marybeth believes in open government, professionalism, and common sense. A Gardiner resident for 35 years, she is familiar with town government and has been attending town board meetings for over 20 years. Marybeth, along with members of her family and the Gardiner Historical Society, worked hard to save the Town Hall from being demolished in the early 2000s.
Town Council candidate Bruna Rondinelli is a fiscally responsible candidate with solid values who is also creative and progressive. She believes that every taxpayer dollar must be accounted for. She believes that problems can be addressed at the local level, saving tax dollars from leaving the community. One of her proudest moments was becoming an American citizen. Now she is looking to achieve another American dream by serving Gardiner. Bruna is a highly collaborative player who will be a valuable asset to Gardiner’s governing body.
Incumbent Town Council candidate Michael Reynolds is a professional with over 30 years of business experience. Michael has been instrumental in multiple initiatives that have benefited the Gardiner community both financially and environmentally. He is an independent thinker whose focus for the next four years will be to bring greater transparency and innovation to the board. He is fiscally mindful and is dedicated to helping protect, preserve and enhance our community.
Town Justice candidate Frank Petrone, is 55-year resident of Gardiner, brings us 43 years of law enforcement experience and served for 18 years on the Ulster County Police Chief Association Executive Board (nine as President). He has an A.A.S. Degree in Criminal Justice. Frank is familiar with our community and will use his extensive knowledge and experience to ensure fair resolution of issues and treatment of the town’s citizens.
Candidates were asked to respond to the following question in a maximum of 150 words each. Responses were not edited.
What do you see as the most important issue facing Gardiner and what are your constructive ideas concerning this issue?
Party affiliations (as supplied by candidates): Rep (R); Dem (D); Working Families (WF); Good for Gardiner (GFG); Women’s Equality (WE);
Conservative (C); People for Gardiner (P4G); Independent (I); Reform (Ref)
Candidates for Town Supervisor
(C; R; Ref; I; P4G)
The most important issue facing Gardiner today is leadership. Citizens attending town board meetings are asked to hold comments until privilege of the floor, after the vote has been taken. A single board member made the decision not to accept brush at the transfer station. People are spoken down to and intimidated. Accusations of marital infidelity are made. Once, a citizen’s employer was contacted by certain board members who didn’t agree with what he said. Should this happen at town board meetings?
I would use meetings as opportunities to share deliberations rather than hold executive sessions. I would treat people with respect, courtesy and welcome their input. Decisions would be made with the people. Gardiner’s leadership should encourage dialogue between the board and the people which would help identify the real issues. I am a common person, and I would lead with common sense and common courtesy.
(D; WF; GFG; WE; Incumbent)
The residents of Gardiner pay a lot in taxes, only a portion of which goes directly to making Gardiner the great town it is. The challenge for me, Warren, and Laura has been to maximize the return for those tax dollars: to enable kids to leverage internet technology, to keep our commuters safely on the road, to provide quality recreation and services for our families and to enable businesses to thrive — all while keeping your money in your pocket. That takes experience, skill, and leadership.
When my running mates and I campaign, we point to solid successes and a clear vision. Leaders talk about solutions. Followers blame others and talk about problems. I’ll build on what’s great about Gardiner and find solutions to our challenges. I love my job, and I love my community. So it’s not about taking sides, it’s about getting the job done.
Candidates For Town Board
(D; WF; GFG; WE; Incumbent)
Biggest Challenge: Keep Gardiner Strong Without Raising Taxes. We need to compensate our dedicated employees fairly. We need to maintain our buildings, snow plows, and parks. We need to continue our summer camp for kids and our support for seniors. But, we need to keep taxes low. It can be done. This year taxes increased by 1.5% (inflation was 2%), while we maintained essential services. It’s not magic. Taxes were kept at the second lowest level in Ulster County by seeking funding sources beyond the obvious. Over the last several years, we’ve used many, non-traditional types of funding.
Federal and State Matching Grants for the Sidewalks
Volunteer Labor for the Town Hall
Private Donations for Majestic Park
Grants from Foundations for Open Space
Loans for the Transfer Station
Town Reserves for Snow Plows
In the future we must use these and new sources of funding to keep taxes low.
(R; C; P4G; I; Ref; Incumbent)
After serving 4 years as a Gardiner town board member, I think the most important issue we face today is getting all individuals to work toward a common goal that represents all stakeholders fairly. I believe that a more collaborative culture can be achieved by greater transparency and accountability. Current technology allows for this now more than ever. The majority of the current board does not act with this intent and only hampers and taints enhancements for our town.
My idea is to elect a group of individuals who understand the key element for success is to have an open mind and listen to all stakeholders. These individuals need to assimilate all information and make good decisions that benefit the whole community not the self-interest of one individual or subset group.
Quoting Martin Luther King; “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody needs to take credit.”
Candidates For Town Board
(R; Ref; C; I; P4G)
I believe that one of the issues facing Gardiner is the current town board made up of 5 men. This Board is not diverse and does not represent me, as a woman or as a minority. In addition, I don’t see many grant applications to improve and foster our Community. My constructive ideas are to enable a diverse cross section of the population to become more familiar with local planning, inviting younger people to join in with their creative ideas, allow seniors with their experience to coach us. We need grants to create activities to enhance the lifestyle of our Seniors, help repair their homes, keep taxes low and affordable. We need to create an atmosphere of respect regardless of our personalities or party affiliation. As an elected Board Member I will work with passion, respect and integrity while keeping the Rural Character of our beautiful town intact.
Laura Faye Walls
(D; WF; GFG; WE)
Long-term Financial Planning : Town board leaders are right to protect the town’s assets by documenting current and future needs for maintaining our infrastructure such as buildings, roads, bridges, and technology. This is asset management. Building on that good work, now is the time to use financial planning techniques to anticipate future impacts on budgets and taxes. Multi-year budgeting is a process of forecasting budgets for future years while developing a budget for the coming year; it can reveal cyclical and structural budget problems as well as shed sunshine on the assumptions behind budget line items. Such data supports meaningful discussion about local policies and practices as well as on unfunded mandates and other legislative gimmicks. Financial planning is a cool tool for avoiding budgetary surprises and for improving the public dialog on the role and purpose of taxes in society and in our community.
Candidates For Town Justice
(D; WF; GFG; WE; Incumbent)
Probably the most important issue facing us in Gardiner Court is complying with new state-mandated rules to ensure access to counsel for all defendants at arraignment. A pilot program is being instituted in Ulster County to provide access to the Public Defender’s Office on a 24 hour basis so that all defendants will have access to counsel. This will put additional burdens on Town Judges, who are required to be at the courthouse for middle-of-the-night arraignments. Judge Rich and I are working with the Public Defender’s Office to get this new program established, and hopefully will be able to meet our legal mandates without having to bring sleeping bags to the courthouse. Our jobs as Judges are ever increasingly complex, and much more demanding than when I first took office twenty years ago. I hope to keep our court efficiently providing service to our entire community in an impartial, unbiased and fair way for the next four years.
(R; C; I; Ref)
My name is Frank Petrone. I have lived in Gardiner 55 years. I have served in the Criminal Justice Community for 43 years. I am running for Town Justice in the Town of Gardiner. When answering the question “What is the most significant challenge facing The Town Court”; it is and always will be the management of the Court Calendar. Town Court, or The People’s Court as it is at times called, interacts with a host of people; defendants, victims, police, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, other courts and other judges to name a few. The court has the responsibility to provide the accused a speedy trial. The judges and court clerks must be diligent in all scheduling matters regarding appearances for motions, pleadings and trials. Competent and efficient management of court calendars can save substantial amounts of money for both the Town and the County. I will work to provide the highest level of Court Calendar management.
The Ulster County Legislature
The candidates were asked the following question and given 150 words in which to reply. Their responses were not editied:
What are the most pressing issues currently facing Ulster County?
(R; C; I; Ref)
Local politics is the worst part of Gardiner. It doesn’t end after the election, and carries through to all aspects of the community. I have not seen anything worse for Gardiner than the obsessiveness of which political party you belong to. There is a political game in Gardiner played by the “Political Elites”. It’s called ‘stump the chump’. The unwitting public is the chumps, and it’s the “ruling class” job to stump you. It works. You can take a Democrat of 25 years and accuse them of being a conservative Tea Party member. You post it on Facebook before a caucus and then delete it the day after. The public will believe it. The chumps get stumped. This isn’t Good for Gardiner. I do not partake in this elitist game. This is why I am not, and will not be a member of any political party. I am for Gardiner.
Highway Superintendant Candidate Brian Stiscia
(D; WF; GFG, Incumbent)
Brian Stiscia, Democrat, a lifelong resident of Gardiner, employed with the Town for 23 years. This is my second term for office of Superintendent of Highways – running unopposed, endorsed by all political parties.
This year the Governor has set a tax cap of less than 1%, that tests one’s ability to accomplish one’s goals. With the past two extreme weather winters; state imposed tax caps; instead of reconstructing roads we just have to repair them. We have come up with creative solutions to replace equipment with no impact to the current or past budget.
My continued objective is to navigate the highway department through all seasons and stay within the Town’s 2016 Budget. Continue to utilize Shared Services with Ulster County and assist Town Departments. I want to thank the Tax Payers of Gardiner for the continued support and my Highway Men and Secretary who maintain a team dynamic.
(D; WF; WE, incumbent)
The most pressing issue facing Gardiner and its residents is the burden of property taxes coupled with the lack of well paying jobs. At the County level, I work hard to provide solutions. For the last two years, we reduced your County taxes. In addition to that, the County assumed several costly programs, putting money back into the town’s budget. While many of our neighbors struggle with bankrupt budgets, Ulster County is a model of fiscal accountability, responsible budgeting and reform – I am proud to be a part of that. But it doesn’t end there; we continue to focus on bringing jobs to the county and supporting local businesses. Local jobs keep locals here, in the community that we all love. Gardiner is such an amazing place – a beautiful, protected landscape filled with passionate, committed people. I am so very honored to call it my home.