On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Neil Bettez won the New Paltz town supervisor race. Bettez, the Democratic nominee, defeated Republican nominee Robert Gabrielli and write-in challenger Deputy Town Supervisor Jeff Logan.
In the other contested election, incumbent town councilman Marty Irwin won reelection alongside fellow Democrat Julie Seyfert Lillis. They defeated Republican challenger Ray Lunati.
“It was pretty exciting,” Bettez said. “Now we get to move onto our goals for next year. We want to keep taxes low, address the tax cap and complete the review of our comprehensive master plan. We expect the process to last around a year or two, and hopefully it’s accomplished by the time my first term is up”
Bettez said that he looks forward to working with both Irwin and Lillis, whom he actively campaigned with, and Logan, who is returning to the town board. After years of contentious activity and public animosity between members, Bettez said that he hopes this board can turn the page.
“I want to set the tone as the person in charge,” Bettez said. “I’m really just asking people to put personal differences aside. I’m hoping that with the new blood, the issues of the past will be gone.”
There are several changes and challenges ahead of the town board next year. In the town budget for the 2016 fiscal year, the salary for the town supervisor was reduced from $53,000 to $40,000. Now, the full-time position will pay less than the town comptroller.
“I mean, no one likes to have their pay cut by 25 percent before they start,” Bettez said. “Having said that, I don’t think the job has been reduced. I don’t think Susan [Zimet] had any political motivations behind it. The supervisor still has to set the agenda and move things forward. The pay is not going to change the amount of work I do.”
Former Deputy Inspector General of Frauds Robert Gabrielli, who ran on three separate lines for town supervisor, reflected on his campaign by pointing to the importance of the Sept. 8 Democratic Party caucus at New Paltz High School.
“Traditionally, New Paltz votes along party lines and the Democratic Party is the dominant party,” Gabrielli said. “I was told early on, ‘if you want to win, win at the caucus.’ This election was really won two months ago.”
In spite of his defeat, Gabrielli was congratulatory toward Bettez. In a post on his Facebook account, Gabrielli lauded his opponent while thanking his supporters.
“I want to congratulate Neil Bettez for his successful campaign for Supervisor of the Town of New Paltz,” the post read. “I wish him well and hope that he will do good things for the town.”
Gabrielli said the reasons he ran for office was to “promote and civility and harmony and mutual respect.” Gabrielli added that having any bitterness would be “antithetical.” Going forward, Gabrielli said he aims to remain active in the New Paltz community, specifically with his involvement in a proposed town-and-gown internship program involving SUNY New Paltz.