League of Women Voters Holds Charter Revision Forum

The Women’s League of Voters of the Mid-Hudson region presented a forum on the revisions to the Ulster County Charter on Thursday, Sept. 13.

The public meeting was held at Esopus Town Hall at 7 p.m. and 20 community members attended.

The five-year-old charter was reviewed by a commission of 11 volunteers who made revisions based on recommendations to the county Executive and Legislature, according to Co.ulster.ny.us.

Chair of the Charter Revision Commission Cynthia Lowe said the charter itself created the need for this commission, and the legislature recognized this. She said the legislature as a whole has been willing to compromise and consider these revisions.

The revisions focus on redistricting within Ulster County, the creation of an audit committee, the confirmation of county executive appointment by the legislature, the creation of a clerk for the county legislature, the comptroller serving as the chief auditing officer of the county and a few other similar topics within the charter were discussed.

Lowe said this was the first time a commission was formed to create revisions, and they did so in an extremely short timetable.

She said although this was completely new, the process will be smoother in the future.

Lowe said the commission had the opportunity to present the revisions directly to the voters but chose to get it approved the legislature first so there would be one complete charter instead of two contrasting copies.

“The commission had the ability to put forth any changes directly to voters but we didn’t do that,” she said. “The voters well deserve one proposal as perfect or imperfect as it may be.”

Dr. Gerald Benjamin, chair of the commission that wrote the charter and director for the Center of Research and Regional education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz, also spoke at the forum.

Benjamin said even if these revisions pass they would have to conduct another review in 10 years, and every 10 after that. He said this review happened after only five years because they wanted to map out the experience and draw upon that for the future to make improvements and correct errors.

Benjamin said the vote, taking place on Nov. 6, would decide the outcome of the revisions.

“When voting, this is a matter of putting it into one question ‘do we pick it up or put it down?,’” he said. “It’s all or nothing — they can’t say we like this piece and we don’t like that piece.”