Nine people have expressed interest in becoming the next mayor of the Village of New Paltz after elections are held in May, according to Village Mayor Terry Dungan.
Dungan said that although three of the nine people who have expressed interest in the position have not done so publicly, the potential field of candidates could be the largest in recent village history.
“It’s not common; it’s New Paltz,” he said. “We are a particularly opinionated community. Different people who have considered running have different things that have gotten them upset, where a lot of them have said, ‘Well if I was mayor, I could fix this.’”
Dungan declined to specifically name those who have expressed interest in the position. The potential field may range from the incumbent and other village business owners and residents to a blogger who lives in Brooklyn and a former New York City firefighter.
Democratic blogger Jeremy Blaber announced his candidacy in an Aug. 17 post on his blog called blabernews.blogspot.com, which he said covers politics in Brooklyn, New York City and Ulster County.
Although Blaber was not a resident of the village at the time he announced his candidacy – which is a requirement to be able to vote in the election – he said he plans to reach out to residents and take the position.
“I plan to run a very aggressive race to become the village’s next mayor,” he said.
Patricia Fitzpatrick, a local resident who said she has served on different boards and groups in the area, has also publicly announced her intention to run for the position of village mayor.
The former New York City firefighter said she sees the position as a consideration for part-time employment. Fitzpatrick said her experience on different boards and an understanding of “the basics of budgets,” in addition to her work as a firefighter, has prepared her to be the next mayor of the village.
“Challenges in the village require sustained and concentrated effort,” she said. “I will do my best to promote what is working and [be] strong enough to initiate changes necessary for New Paltz’s continued growth.”
Fitzpatrick, Blaber and others interested in becoming the mayor of New Paltz could take on the incumbent Dungan, who said he is running for the same reasons he did nearly four years ago – to ensure that the village is “well managed.”
In 2007, Dungan defeated former mayor Jason West for the position. The mayor said that he would continue to better relations between the village and the Town of New Paltz, which he said had improved since he took office.
Dungan said major challenges the next mayor of the village could face are related to environmental issues and the economy, having said that keeping the village functioning with a reasonable level of service without increasing expenses is going to be “really difficult all around.”
“People have spoken to me about their economic circumstances at home,” he said. “We just can’t increase the budget.”
According to Dungan, any village resident 18 years of age or older is eligible to vote at the polling place in Village Hall. The elections are held independently from the Ulster County Board of Elections. Anyone registered and eligible to vote in the village can run for mayor. Dungan said mayoral elections are held every four years, and three seats on the Village Board of Trustees will also be up for grabs this year.
Those interested in running for mayor must have nomination petitions signed by five percent of the voters who cast their ballots in the last election, Dungan said. This process will begin in March.