Chairman of the Town of New Paltz Police Commission Randall Leverette is challenging Democrat Susan Zimet for the New Paltz town supervisor seat.
Zimet served as the town supervisor from 1996-99. She then was an Ulster County Legislature from 2004-11 until she was elected as New Paltz town supervisor again in 2011.
She has been an advocate for merging the town and village governments, has been an executive producer of celebrity advocacy commercials including “I Love My New York Water” and has lobbied against hydraulic fracturing.
She said she chose to run again because environmental leaders around New York state want to make New Paltz a model for sustainable communities in the state, as well as following through with local projects and solidifying the financial integrity of the town.
Leverette will run as a Republican, but considers himself a moderate because of the views he holds. He created the online group “Republicans for Obama.”
Park Point and town and village government consolidation are topics that have garnered attention from residents.
Leverette said he is on board with the college doing what they think is best for the school, but feels they should be taxed the same as people in the community.
“I’m very supportive of the college trying to meet the needs of the students,” Leverette said. “I don’t believe that a for profit entity should be able to run a facility, make money and then a scant amount of taxes to our community because at the end of the day when one does that the burden is shifted to homeowners.”
Zimet and Leverette hold the same stance on Park Point.
“I support the college completely and totally in regards to the importance it is to the New Paltz community,” Zimet said. “The college demands a lot of services, but doesn’t pay any taxes to the local government. Any new project that comes in like Park Point puts incredible pressure on the community and should pay a fair share of taxes.”
Zimet said she believes having both a town and village government in New Paltz creates conflict.
“I’ve always believed that New Paltz is one community,” Zimet said. “The town and the village together are going to sit down to engage a joint comprehensive plan to determine what New Paltz looks like.”
Leverette said in regards to finances, the town needs to look at everything to see what’s going on.
“We need to figure out how to reduce taxes for people because affordability is a major issue for people in our community,” Leverette said. “People are being taxed out of their homes, you have seniors who want to move out of their house, but they can’t because buyers come and say ‘the taxes here are like they are in Westchester.’ That shouldn’t be.”
Leverette said he is for the town and village governments looking into consolidating, but that the government should supply thorough, complete and accurate information to taxpayers so they have all of the information that they need.
“For me, it’s more about the process and I think we need to move the conversation of consolidation away from being for or against, to one of providing people with the information they need so they can make the decision that is best for them,” Leverette said.
Leverette would like to see better bike lanes, more sidewalks, alternate forms of transportation and a better traffic situation in New Paltz, but these things can’t be done without the financial situation of the town being in order, he said.
Leverette said he would like to try and get environmentally friendly businesses to come to New Paltz to create “an incubator type of community” to provide jobs and internships for students.
“We have in our community a factor for workers, and it’s the college,” Leverette said. “I would really like to figure ways in which our community can market itself and the students of the college and bring business into the community so we can perhaps keep some of them [students] here instead of going off to find jobs.”
During Zimet’s time as town supervisor, she said she has banned hydraulic fracturing in New Paltz and has banned brine water on the roads and in the sewers. She said her opposition in the election has different views than her on this matter.
“Randall Leverette, who’s running against me, worked for a law firm for seven years that worked for the oil and gas industry and they lobbied congressional leaders to look the other way,” Zimet said. “My opponent sure as hell does not hold a candle in my activism on hydro-fracturing.”
Zimet would also like to have more bicycle paths in New Paltz in order to make the town more “bike friendly,” she said. She also wants to work with the college to build up the 3D technology and program, so students can have “really good high-paying jobs” when they graduate.
The election will take place on Nov. 5.