Election day is once again approaching, as five residents compete for two open trustee seats on the New Paltz Village Board. William Murray, Celeste Tesoriero, Galo Vasquez, KT Tobin and Rebecca Rotzler are all working to earn the votes of village residents when Tuesday, May 2 comes around and voters line up at the Plattekill Avenue firehouse to cast their ballots.
Each candidate is running on different platforms with varying priorities, but some common themes such as tenant rights and finding alternative water sources have been expressed as important across the board.
Vasquez, who is running on the SUNY student party line, and Tesoriero, who is running on the Tenant party line, are running as a team. Being members of the New Paltz Tenants Union, both have been adamant about their focus to hold landlords accountable for alleged mistreatment of tenants.
Vasquez, a fourth-year education in physics major at SUNY New Paltz, spoke about his hopes to provide opportunities to marginalized people and bridge the town and village communities. He believes being younger grants him a fresher, more creative perspective to getting things accomplished than some of his opposition. He added and that being a renter involved in things like the local food pantry allows him to better understand the problems of residents as well.
“It takes passion to pass things that are going to impact people,” he said.
In regards to tenants’ rights, Vasquez spoke about wanting to limit rent prices and fix issues regarding safety deposits, and that voting for him and Tesoriero as a pair is essential.
If both Vasquez and Tesoriero were elected, they would possess a majority vote, allowing them to bypass opposition. Vasquez stated that if elected without Tesoriero, he would still take the position, although he admits he would not be as effective. Tesoriero stated that if she were elected without Vasquez, she would not take the position.
If elected, Tesoriero would be the only trustee with experience as an attorney. She said that what sets her apart from her opposition is a singular focus of obtaining rights for tenants. She joined the race for the purpose of passing laws that the tenant union has already written up and have been shot down by previous boards.
Tesoriero has been vocal with her criticisms of fellow candidates, claiming that their wealth and status as homeowners makes them unfit to represent a community that is 70 percent renters. She also cited that 90 percent of New Paltz families make less than $100,000 annually.
“Rich white people don’t want us to win, especially landlords and business owners,” she said.
Murray has been living in New Paltz for 14 years, having spent seven in the town before moving to the village. He is well known for being a volunteer firefighter, something he prides himself on, and being on the Ulster County Planning Board. He is running his campaign with a focus on safety, particularly regarding bicycle and pedestrian safety. He has proposed reducing the speed limit to 25 mph in New Paltz in order to reduce the likelihood of serious damage to bikers and pedestrians, and has spoken about how his dedication as a volunteer firefighter would transfer to his work as trustee in a community he speaks fondly of.
“I think there’s a great community here that relies on each other, and that’s a spirit that’s not necessarily found in many places,” he said.