Elections for the Town of New Paltz and the Ulster County district attorney have been announced, with all machines accounted for as of 9:53 a.m. on Nov. 9, according to the Ulster County Board of Elections.
Former Town Supervisor Susan Zimet returned and reclaimed her seat, beating out her opponent and current Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson, 1,389 to 446 votes.
“I feel like I came home,” Zimet said, referencing Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.” “It was very last minute. I got into the race and there were a lot of mixed feelings about doing it. As I got more involved, I realized there were some serious issues and there’s a lot of work to be done and we’re going to kick ass.”
Zimet said her first three priorities include shepherding the town and village consolidation efforts, kick-starting some form of renewable energy at South Putt Corners Road and starting work with getting New Paltz “off the grid.” She said her other less immediate goals included reigning in spending and working on the tax cap.
Zimet said she wants to explore how to “deliver services with pressures from the state.” She still wants the governor’s office and the state to use New Paltz as a model with such things as effective consolidation.
“Just [for them] to see the revolution begins on the local level,” she said.
At a “Meet the Candidates” forum on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Zimet said the issue she was questioned about during the election was wetlands protection. She made it clear that she has every intention to protect them.
“Please don’t doubt because I know that’s been used against me a lot during this election,” she said.
She also agreed with Town Board-elect Kevin Barry that the cost of living in New Paltz is hard for residents to handle and one of her and Barry’s goals is to work on bringing taxes down.
“I have no time or patience for personal fights or personality problems. We’re there to do the business of the public,” Zimet said. “We need to work together, we need to respect you, we need to get to work and respect each other. We have to work closely with the school district, the village, the town and the college to deliver services in an efficient way.”
Barry, who collaborated on campaigning with Zimet and Jean Gallucci, said he will waste no time before Jan. 1 when they officially assume their positions.
“I’m feeling really well right now, very happy with the results. Very happy I’ll be serving with Zimet and Gallucci, and we’re going to hit the ground running Jan. 1,” Barry said. “We’re going to do a lot of work before then, we look forward to serving.”
At the forum, Barry said this campaign was unlike any other and everyone was amicable to one another.
Barry, with 1,214 votes, and Gallucci, with 1,256 votes beat out opponents Randall Leverette (724 votes) and Raymond Lunati (554 votes).
Gallucci said she prides herself with “having a thing for numbers” and knowing the “village and town budgets intimately.” She said her first priority will be to examine the budget and attend the hearing on Nov. 15 along with Barry and Zimet.
“I am running for the Town Board because I take my role very seriously, I do read my agenda packages and I do come prepared,” she said at the forum. “My specialty is fiscal management and accountability, and that’s what I offer to you. I would like to reduce taxes, increase the tax base, increase sale tax revenue and help you be able to stay here.”
According to Gallucci, taxes have gone up “nearly 45 percent” in the last seven years in the town, but she said she hasn’t received “a 45 percent raise over the past seven years” to combat the rise in the cost of living expenses.
Before he lost the election, Leverette said at the forum he had hoped to increase efficiency.
“I want to serve on the board to help make New Paltz affordable for everyone, and I think the way to do that is to bring about an efficient government,” he said.
At the forum, Lunati said he initially ran for Town Board because when he brought up a plan for flood-capable vehicles, especially after the increased rainfall from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, it fell on “deaf ears.”
“As Town Board member, I will always have an open ear for anybody who wants to talk with me,” he said. “[Also] I’m not against passing laws, I’m against passing over-restrictive laws,” he said before he lost on Election Day.
Meanwhile James Bacon, who ran for New Paltz town justice, ran unopposed and won with 1,557 votes.
Prior to Election Day, he said that he is the one protecting residents’ constitutional rights where applicable.
“I enjoy my job; it’s challenging and interesting,” he said. “As a local judge, I see my job to protect people from the power of the state. To assert your constitutional rights, and the prosecutor works within his bounds and come to just determinations.”
Another unopposed candidate was Christopher Marx, who ran for New Paltz superintendent of highways position and won with 1,748 votes. He said he appreciated the support that he had gotten and assured everyone he would see them Jan. 1.
Rosanna Mazzaccari won the town clerk position in an uncontested election, garnering 1,733 votes.
In the race for Ulster County district attorney, incumbent Holley Carnright beat Jon Sennett, 22,174 to 14,652.
Carnright told the Poughkeepsie Journal that he is humbled from the amount of support he’s received, and that he will continue to “push toward domestic violence awareness” while working as district attorney. He also said a top priority will be investigating fraud in the county.
Village Trustee Ariana Basco was “pretty anxious” and “not too pleased” with the result of Sennett’s loss. Basco said her focus was working with his campaign. However, she said that when it came to the town elections, she would be happy working with anyone on the local-level especially because there are a lot of “inter-municipal projects and potential for working with the town.”
“I find that anybody locally, really their intentions are to make the community better and do good things for everybody who lives here,” she said. “It’s all a matter of finding what we agree on and moving forward on those things.”
Basco described the voter turnout, of what she saw as of Nov. 9, as moderate. She said the great number of uncontested elections on the local level likely affected how many people made their way to the polls Tuesday.
“You can’t blame the weather this time,” she said.
Other village officials said they are looking forward to working with their newly elected peers in town government.
Village Mayor Jason West said he’s known Zimet for about 12 years and has worked with her on various issues. He said that we will probably learn more about the newly elected candidates priorities in the months leading up to Jan 1. when they assume their official capacity. He said it’s a diverse group of people, but he’s sure they will work for the good of each segment in the community.
“The best people who run for office are really hopeful we can get a lot of work done for the good of everyone in New Paltz; [the] village, town and SUNY,” West said.