As graduation approached in the spring of 2008 and plans to attend graduate school to become a philosophy professor fell through, Town Police Commissioner and co-chair of the Environmental Task Force Ariana Basco said her only goal became to stay in New Paltz.
Nearly three years later, Basco, from Astoria, Queens, is running for a four-year term on the New Paltz Village Board going solo under the Positive Party. Basco, who considers herself a “community organizer” and not a politician, said her choice of party has a lot to do with the foundation of her work. Aside from wanting to bring positivity into the New Paltz community, Basco also wants to run a positive campaign.
“A lot of people run slander campaigns and make themselves look good by making other people look bad and I don’t want to partake in any of those kinds of things,” Basco said,
As village trustee, Basco wants to strengthen the village’s core economy by making it more sustainable and facilitating collaboration between local farms and local businesses. As a SUNY New Paltz graduate, Basco also wants to help integrate the students into the New Paltz community and make them feel like they are a part of something bigger.
Even though politics were not a part of her life while studying philosophy at SUNY New Paltz, Basco said that within her first or second year at the university, she knew she could live in New Paltz “forever.”
“When I first got here, I knew I loved it,” said Basco. “I just felt an energy in New Paltz that I really was receptive to. I felt like I could flourish here in some ways but I had no idea what I was going to do.”
After getting her first job out of college at Dunkin Donuts on Main Street, Basco applied for a job as project coordinator and community outreach director for New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) at SUNY New Paltz, a job which she left less than a year ago.
With NYPIRG, Basco said she was given the resources to be able to speak about the environment, a cause she had developed interest in throughout high school. Describing it as “political boot camp,” NYPIRG was Basco’s introduction to politics, public policy, campaigning and community organizing, sparking her interest in local politics.
“Basically, I realized my skill set…I realized that I’m good at bringing people together. I’m good at communicating these ideas,” she said. “I look at the people who are doing it and they’re not good at communicating these ideas so when I realized my skill set, it made me feel like there was a responsibility there to move into it.”
Aside from NYPIRG, the Police Commission and the Environmental Task Force, Basco has worked and collaborated with a number of clubs and organizations throughout the years, including Brook Farm Project, Climate Action Coalition of New Paltz, Family of New Paltz, New Paltz GreenWorks, the New Paltz Democrats, the Working Families Party, and the United University Professions union.
Last spring Basco helped organize the Local Choice meeting which brought together local farmers with institutional food service providers such as universities, hospitals and school districts in an effort to facilitate business relationships that would link local institutions and local agriculture.
The region’s beauty, mountains, rail trail and agricultural richness have inspired Basco to stay in the community but the people of New Paltz are not far behind.
“There’s an energy here. The people that are drawn here…they’re open-minded and eccentric and I really love them for that,” she said. “I feel like it’s the kind of community where we have a lot of potential. There are all of these people with all of these skills and if we all come together, we could make something big happen.”
Basco will be holding a campaign kickoff event at Oasis on March 29 at 10 p.m.