Recently Mayor Jason West publicly criticized the “work ethic” of two Village Board Trustees — Stewart Glenn and Brian Kimbiz.
In a Facebook post, West said he would not be supporting Glenn or Kimbiz for re-election in May and solicited people who might be interested in running for their seats.
“I put something on Facebook, because I’m not impressed with them and what they’ve done—not the quality or quantity of their work,” he said. “I can choose who to back up in public office, like anyone else, based on what I find important.”
West said the comments are strictly based on his professional relationships with Glenn and Kimbiz.
“It’s not personal [and] I don’t want to say these things about people I like,” he said. “But there’s work to be done and it’s not getting done. The frustration is that I know what we could be doing, what we’re capable of.”
Even though he found West’s approach “unprofessional,” Kimbiz said the Mayor has the right to say whatever he wants.
“I’m not sure why he made this statement,” he said. “I believe I have given a great amount of time and effort to the position of Trustee. I have produced some great work and fought hard for what I believe is right.”
As far as the motive behind the comments, Glenn said he thinks West is anxious to have a board that will “do what he would like to do,” unlike the current trustees.
“We are a fairly diverse group of independent thinkers who do the best for the voters,” he said. “There is a history of [West] putting things up for a vote and trustees question it or turn it down, and he would get upset. We question things until they’re right.”
Trustee Sally Rhoads, who resigned as deputy mayor during a Village Board Meeting on Jan. 23, said West is “currently at odds with all four trustees” because he wants two trustees to “give him majority on the board.”
“I’m still a trustee,” Rhoads said. “I only resigned as the Deputy Mayor…because I do not want residents to think I condone or support the Mayor’s negative statements regarding fellow Trustees, Town Board members and community members, including those in the SUNY college community.”
Glenn said while the comments didn’t bother him and he knows he has a strong work ethic, it is “disheartening” to have to defend himself against these accusations.
“People who don’t follow public policy would read the comments and get the wrong idea,” he said. “The trouble is it’s out of context and people who know the context will take it for what it’s worth. It’s not just, but it’s life. I was elected to do a job and I’m going to do it until my term is over.”
As far as time commitments go, trustee is currently a part-time position, whereas West is now considered full-time, according to Kimbiz.
“This year the Mayor’s salary was increased from $22,500 per year to $36,000 per year — a vote that would have failed if the Mayor did not vote his own raise [as] Trustee Glenn and I voted no,” he said. “It remains to be seen if he is currently fulfilling these hours to the expectations of his colleagues.”
Looking forward to the spring elections, West said he wants people who want to have conversations about policy instead of personalities, which “is what’s happening now.”
“The political culture we have in New Paltz is the most toxic I’ve seen in years,” he said. “It should be about them [the community], not us. Board members are making decision for us instead of you — the collective you.”
Glenn said he thinks his fellow trustees are “upset” with how West treats and speaks to them.
“Trustees are not the type of people who like to be bullied or talked down to,” Glenn said. “It’s just not appropriate [and] it makes it harder to recruit volunteers to be gung-ho about this beautiful community.”