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Millerton elections Tuesday, June 15

Mayor Middlebrook reflects on her tenure

MILLERTON — The hot and hazy days of June are not typically associated with municipal elections, but in the rural village of Millerton, popular for its one-of-a-kind and surprisingly chic shops, eateries and plethora of antiques stores, June is exactly when villagers are expected to vote. Village Elections this year are on Tuesday, June 15, from noon to 9 p.m.

According to the Dutchess County Board of Elections, there are 515 registered voters among the population of roughly 1,000 in Millerton (193 Democratic, 120 Republican, 10 Conservative, four Working Families, four Green Party, two Libertarian Party, 42 Independence Party and 139 No Official Party), all of whom will have to go to the Village Offices at 5933 North Elm Ave. (Route 22), which are serving the community while the Village Board decides what to do with the decaying Village Hall building on Dutchess Avenue that’s in dire need of repair. The Village Offices are easy to access, have plenty of parking and the building is handicap accessible. 

As outgoing Mayor Debbie Middlebrook said, “I hope everyone will turn out to support those that serve.”

The Millerton News reached out to Middlebrook to talk about the Village Board holding elections in June, and if she thinks voters will turn out next week. In New York, villages have the option of letting voters cast their ballots during the November general elections, in March or in June.

Republican Dave Sherman, a former village trustee who is again seeking a seat on the Village Board this year, was on the board when he suggested changing the election cycle to June, though not on the board when it voted to do so.

“When you’re there trying to campaign in February, it’s winter, it can be pretty bad,” he said. “People don’t want to open their doors… March also can be a wintry month and people have difficulty getting to the election, rain and weather wise… It just seemed like this would be more encouraging for people to come out to vote. It’s a weather-climate thing.”

The other motivating factor to get folks out to vote, of course, is if the election is contested. This year, it is. Of course, extenuating factors, like a global pandemic, sometimes affect elections, added the mayor.

“I think this year may be the test to see if more people come out to vote,” said Middlebrook. “We did hold the election last year, in June at the new location, but with COVID and the restrictions I don’t think we can use the turn-out as a true measure. It was also an uncontested trustee race, which typically lends itself to a smaller turnout of voters.”

This year the ballot will look a lot different, though not for the mayoral race. Middlebrook announced early on that she did not plan on running for another term. She began her civic service in the village as a volunteer for the community betterment group, Townscape, before serving on the Millerton Planning Board in 2005; she was elected to the Village Board as a trustee in 2007 and served in that capacity until being elected mayor in 2017. All the while she served on the board of the North East Historical Society. 

“I still have a deep interest in the future of Millerton and will stay active in the community,” she said. “I am very pleased with the many projects that I have been able to participate in, all with the hope of making Millerton an even better place to live and work. 

“Among those is the continuing repair and replacement of our sidewalks, painting of the water tower and repair to our fire hydrants, the future installation of solar crosswalk signs for pedestrians on our busy Main Street,” the mayor added, “completing a feasibility study that will one day hopefully lead to Millerton having its own waste water facility, and the wonderful work being done by the Millerton Community Park Committee to not only reimagine but actually bring forth the redesign of Eddie Collins Park.”

Middlebrook praised those she has worked with and especially those who worked on redoing the park for doing a “remarkable” job. But she said it’s time to step aside. 

“I thought it was a good time to allow someone new to take the helm and lead Millerton,” she said.  

That someone will be Deputy Mayor Jenn Najdek (NOP), who is running uncontested and has been cross-endorsed by both the local Democratic and Republican committees for mayor; she’s following in the footsteps of her late mother, former Mayor Mariley Najdek. 

For the board itself, three candidates are running for trustee: Republican Sherman, Democrat DeLora Brooks and Democrat Laurie Kerr, who has been cross-endorsed by both parties.

For profiles on the candidates, turn to Page A2; for our thoughts on the village’s June elections and Middlebrook’s tenure as mayor, read this week’s editorial on Page B4. 

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