Millerton to elect village trustees
MILLERTON — Tuesday, March 20, is Election Day here with four candidates vying for the two, two-year village trustee terms currently held by Yosh Schulman and Debbie Middlebrook. Both Democrats, Schulman and Middlebrook are running for re-election. They are challenged by Republican candidates Dave McGhee and John “Jack” Thomas. Dave McGhee McGhee recently lost a re-election bid for the Town Board after a 12-year run as a councilman for the town of North East. Now he’s looking to serve on the Village Board.“I’ve had voters ask me to run, who want another voice at meetings, and since I’ve had experience at the Town Board [I decided to do it],” he said. “I’ve been known to bring up issues that were overlooked, and if elected I will bring up what is addressed to me. All residents deserve to have a voice and I think I would be an asset to the Village Board.”As far as what issues the village is facing these days, McGhee said “holding the budget and taxes in place, without raising them,” is crucial.“With the economy, people can’t afford it,” he said. “There’s just no money to go around. Don’t raise taxes, I say.”He also said he’ll make sure to bring those issues up at meetings and in executive sessions, always keeping village residents in mind. Jack Thomas Thomas is a former village trustee who was appointed by past Mayor Mike Cawley in 2005 to fill an unexpired term, which led to one subsequent full term under the leadership of current Mayor John Scutieri. Thomas put his own name forward at the Republican caucus this year, to fill the spot, he said, and make sure there were two candidates representing the GOP. When asked why he’s running, his response was simple.“Because nobody else wanted the job,” he quipped, before taking a more serious note. “Which is unfortunate. But I think I can add a little bit of discussion to the present board and bring up different viewpoints and try to move things along to better the government within the village.”One of the main issues facing the village today, according to Thomas, is the state of the water system.“Upgrading, repairing and replacing it,” he said. “But rather than repairing let’s do something so it doesn’t leak for the next 50 years. One day I hope it never happens that you go to flush a toilet and it doesn’t, and you get no water return. I would say it’s a critical issue. The pipes are old, we have constant breakdowns and leaks. It affects people directly.” Debbie Middlebrook A Democrat and an incumbent, Middlebrook has already served two, two-year terms and is now running for her third term in office. She said the reason is simple, she “likes giving back to the community.” That sense of altruism has served the community well. Middlebrook has worked on numerous projects while on the Village Board; she’s particularly active in helping the municipality pursue grants, as is her running mate and fellow trustee, Schulman. If re-elected, Middlebrook wants to continue her work in that department, with a focus on infrastructure.“That is always my main issue,” she said. “We’re a small community and don’t have a lot of resources. We tend to rely on grants to improve our infrastructure, and I see that as a continuing issue, to try to find money for sidewalks, especially. We’re a walking community, and we were able to repair several sidewalks last year but unfortunately didn’t receive any block grant money to do that this year.”That’s got Middlebrook on a mission for 2012 and beyond. The village applies for money from the county’s Community Development Block Grant program on an annual basis; she regularly advocates for those funds to go toward sidewalk repair and replacement.“It’s hard because we’re limited on what we can raise taxes for people on and we can’t afford to have extreme tax increases, and the state limits what we can increase taxes for,” she said. “I think the only way we can subsidize those costs is through grants.” Yosh Schulman Also successful in the grant department is village Trustee Schulman, the second Democratic incumbent seeking re-election come March 20. He’s already served two full terms plus a partial term. One of Schulman’s biggest successes was the village’s receipt of a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant. The village garnered more than $315,000 to install photo voltaic solar panels on the pump house. Better yet, as the cost of electricity goes up every year the village now has to buy less and less, so its savings also go up. Those are the kind of cost savings and green concepts Schulman wants to cultivate if re-elected.“I’d like to continue helping develop forward-thinking policies for the village as well as find innovative and efficient ways to do things we need to be doing,” he said. “The solar panels save villagers $15,000 every year, unless electric prices go up, then it would save us even more. I’d like to do more work with our natural resources in the area, protecting our watershed.”The main issues the village must now face, Schulman said, regard economic prosperity and vitality.“That is affecting our entire region and nationally, as a whole, and I believe having a focused local economy encouraging smart growth and being able to address the needs of Millerton’s residents and visitors is a prime concern,” he said. “It is in Millerton’s benefit to be thinking several steps ahead of all the issues instead of taking a reactive step.” Election Day Village elections fall on Tuesday, March 20. Village residents may vote at the Nutrition Center, located at Village Hall at 21 Dutchess Ave., at the side entrance. The polls are open from noon to 9 p.m.