The election that Pete Healey didn't win
He doesn't shy away from not voting for himself, nor is he apologetic. "I may not vote for myself again, but I may spend more than five minutes and five dollars campaigning," he said, referencing a quote about his campaign efforts in that race. His reason for his vote? "It's an ego thing," he says, explaining that he feels that if he needs his single vote to get elected, that he probably just shouldn't serve.
His reason for not campaigning is more pragmatic: when Kimbiz was removed from the ballot after many of his nominating petition signatures were successfully challenged, it appeared to be a two-person race for two seats. He wasn't aware of the write-in effort that Kimbiz launched, and focused on other things.
The push for unification
Pete has been a voice for unification in New Paltz for years, and he's watching the process of the committee charged with studying the issue closely (I can't recall the exact name of it, these committee names all start to sound alike after a time). They compiled results of a survey which, he tells me, indicate that 75% of respondents are in favor of fewer governments. As for the 25 people who responded that they strongly disagreed with the idea of unification, "It will be good for them, too."
He views unification as an opportunity to create a government that's inclusive, and he wants the process to reflect that goal. "We have to find a way to make sure we never have a secretive old fool or a bully in charge," he said, meaning that he wants to prevent a strong executive by including checks and balances on the position's power. He's frustrated by the roadblocks he sees; particularly he wonders why the Town Council hasn't appointed a co-chair to the advisory panel, a task which they were expected to perform by August. The working group had been promised the co-chair for the advisory group (if you're confused, join the club; I have to wonder if the structure is so complex for any good reason) last week, but it hadn't happened by the time I spoke with Pete last Saturday.
Pete favors the village form of government, because state law strictly proscribes how a town government functions. Villages, he says, have the flexibility of a city without the rules. He intends on lobbying aggressively to see the committee's work to completion, and he is looking to get a pro-unification board elected this May, when four seats in total will be up for grabs. He believes that "some aspect of proportionality" should be incorporated into the new government, effectively breaking the Democratic stranglehold on New Paltz.
Time for a fire district?
Is a fire district the solution to our endless discussions about funding fire prevention? Pete says not yet . . . he'd like the unification study to finish its work before that issue is brought to the voters. "Give us six months," to sort out these questions, he says, and if a fire district turns out to be the best option, he'll be all for it. He isn't bashful about accusing Toni Hokanson of manipulating the process, either, which is in keeping with Terry Dungan's letter in last week's paper, which accused her of causing the entire funding scrap by withholding the Town payments for fire services. As he points out, the Town tried to force a vote on a fire district referendum during the alleged joint meeting held back in July.
He also questions the proposed structure, however. Why not look into combining fire and rescue operations, he ponders. Most surrounding towns have fire and rescue districts, and he thinks that if a district is pursued that a merger should be the first question to pose.
Because I asked . . .
Pete believes that building in wetlands should be strictly controlled. Victorian Square, in particular, is a development that he believes never should have gotten out of the planning stages.
Pete is seeking other candidates with a pro-unification stance to run this March.