Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TPW endorses: town races

I have a pretty harsh view on voting these days - if you don't know anything about the candidates, I don't think you have any business voting.  I've gone so far as to suggest we run pure write-in elections to force people to pay attention, or stay home.  It's as much about beating myself up for ignorant voting as anybody else . . . I mean, how many people do you know who have a clear idea who they want as a Surrogate's Court judge?  Why have I ever found it okay to cast an uninformed vote?

A lot of people vote anyway, either by party line, or based on incumbency ("throw the bums out" or "I know that name").  Voting is important, but finding the time to be informed is not easy.  To that end, I continue to share my personal endorsements.  I hope that by sharing my reasons for supporting one or another candidate, it will help others cast more thoughtful votes.

Today, the New Paltz town races.

Supervisor and highway superintendent

These are easy:  we're down to one candidate each, so it's just a question of which line you want to vote on.  No endorsements necessary.

Town justice

I am not voting in this race.  There is only one candidate, and I think we can do better.  A decade into the 21st century we have a court staff that doesn't know how to use email (a problem they resolved by taking the email addresses off of the town's court site), and yet Justice Bacon is lobbying to raise their pay.  He doesn't know how to run an office, his courtroom is always loud and disorganized, and he doesn't appear to know criminal law.  I wish we had a better choice, but he's not getting my vote.

Town council

Four candidates are running for two seats this year, making this a big deal.
  • Kevin Barry is best known for his opposition to the Middle School project and the town's wetlands law.  He is passionate about property rights and controlling taxation, neither of which I have a problem with.  However, he has to learn to rein those passions in a bit.  He can be downright aggressive when he's talking to people who disagree with him, and he has shown a lack of decorum at public meetings, blurting out comments at inappropriate times.  I have been told by people I trust that they've felt physically threatened and nearly come to blows with him at times.
  • Jean Gallucci spent many years working for the town and village, and then served on the village board.  Her financial acumen is above and beyond that of anyone on or running for the town council.  Her judgment concerns me . . . she got her husband a job with the village as the parking meter guy while on the village board, and doesn't see a conflict of interest there.  She also has a poor attendance record as an elected official.
  • Randall Leverette gets flack as being "anti-police" because of how demanding he is for information as a police commissioner.  I know this is not the case - like me, he likes the idea of being safe from crime.  Also like me, he doesn't believe that this means just writing a blank check to the department; if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.  It's the same kind of common-sense approach that has been used in the highway department.  No matter how much we love or hate a particular governmental service, the only way to fairly evaluate it is with hard data.  There is nothing wrong with expecting more data from our police, firefighters, clerk, assessor, or any other department.
  • Ray Lunati is best known for his vocal opposition to laws restricting development on the flood plain.  I was on the planning board, and I disagree with him.  Notwithstanding the environmental concerns, every inch of asphalt and building we add to our town makes the flood plain more likely to flood, which imperils people on that side of the river.  Ray has shown that he is extremely focused on that issue, nearly to the exclusion of all else.
My vote is for Leverette alone.  I think Barry will let his passion get the best of him, Gallucci has questionable judgment, and Lunati is simply too focused on one narrow aspect of town governance.


Martin McPhillips said...

Ray Lunati is more than a one-issue candidate. I don't know him personally, but from his many appearances at town board meetings he strikes me as having a sparkling and generous personality and more faith in individuals than in government. Can't help but like him. Good down-to-earth lad.

Kevin Barry is solid, smart, tough. It's never easy taking on the school district, so I take his willingness to speak common sense to that delirious outfit as a demonstration of fitness for dealing with the ugliness of the town government.

Randall Leverette seems to be unusually intelligent for a New Paltz resident. And off the charts for someone who wants to be a part of local government. But does he know what he's getting into? I think he's in for a surprise if he is elected.

Zimet, one of our fast-talking local geniuses, will need all the help she can get. I don't think that she knows where *all* the bodies are buried.

Brittany Turner said...

You forgot Clerk. :)

Terence said...

I did but I was hoping no one would catch it. It's another uncontested race, I just hope that our new clerk cleans up town hall!