Race heats up at town candidates’ night

By Connor Linskey
Posted 10/23/19

The Town of Montgomery candidates night was held on Monday at the Maybrook Senior Center. Candidates told the public about themselves and fielded questions.

The event was sponsored by the Walden …

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Race heats up at town candidates’ night


The Town of Montgomery candidates night was held on Monday at the Maybrook Senior Center. Candidates told the public about themselves and fielded questions.

The event was sponsored by the Walden Community Council. Town of Montgomery residents packed the room, leaving hardly any seats open. The current supervisor Rodney Winchell, was the first to describe himself and the intentions of his campaign. He noted that he grew up in the Town of Montgomery and has watched it develop. During his lifetime, he has watched I-84 be built as well as the inclusion of more traffic lights. Winchell has seen countless businesses close and open in the Town of Montgomery. He worked in manufacturing before joining the United States Airforce in 1983.

After Winchell, Brian Maher spoke. Like Winchell, he grew up in the area and graduated from Valley Central High School. He believes that his experience as mayor of the Village of Walden would prepare him to be town supervisor. He served as village mayor from 2009 to 2015. During that time, he established the Walden Youth Employment Plan, which taught children job, resume and financial skills.

Like Maher, Dennis Leahy believes that his experience as village mayor would prepare him to take on the role of Montgomery Town Supervisor. He has served as mayor of the Village of Maybrook for the last 11 years. During his tenure, he helped create a new senior center, government center, sewer treatment plant and sidewalks. Leahy has big plans if he is given the role of supervisor of the Town of Montgomery.

“If elected, I will move forward on updating the comprehensive plan, look extensively at the zoning, advocate smart growth and if need be, explore options of a moratorium with the town board,” he said.

After Leahy, Councilman Mark Hoyt spoke. He noted that as a self-employed farmer, he knows the realities of running a business on tight margins. Hoyt added that he has been in several leadership roles, which have prepared him to continue to serve on the town board. His experience includes serving as the vice president of the Valley Central School District Board of Education and the vice president of the Board of Directors of the Orange County Farm Bureau.

Following Hoyt’s address was Susan Cockburn. She is running for town councilwoman. Cockburn added that she has a wealth of life experiences. During her lifetime, she has modeled and served two terms as supervisor of the Town of Montgomery. She loves the town because the people are authentic.

After Cockburn, Ron Feller provided an address. Feller is running for town councilman. He discussed his leadership experience as a youth baseball and basketball coach. In addition, he served on the village council for the village of Montgomery.

Kristen Brown followed Feller. She talked about how the developments in town have hurt her family’s farm. In addition, she noted that she wants to make changes to the budget if she is elected town councilwoman. She believes that she would inject new energy into the town board.

“Often times it takes a fresh look of new eyes on things to make positive changes for the future,” Brown said.

Dwight Warrington gave a speech after Brown. He added that all residents would have a voice if he is elected councilman on the town board. After moving to the Town of Montgomery in the fifth grade, he has enjoyed all of the people that he has met. He wants to give back to his community.

Next, Joseph Keenan spoke. He is currently chairman of the Ethics Board in the Town of Montgomery and chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for the Coldenham Fire District. Keenan noted that his integrity would make him a good councilman.

Lynda Mitchell and Frederick Gorss are the two options for Town Justice. Mitchell noted that she has been an attorney for 30 years. She believes that her extensive trial work and experiences with both witnesses and defendants would prepare her for the Town Justice position. Gorss is running again for the Town Justice position. He is in his 24th year as Montgomery Town Justice. He added that during his tenure, he has obtained many grants, saving taxpayers a lot of money.

The last candidate to speak was Shaun Meres. He is running unopposed for the Superintendent of Highways position. Meres has been a town highway employee for 13 years. He noted that if elected, he would implement a five-year road maintenance plan for the town.

Following Meres’ speech, candidates fielded questions from the moderator and residents. One question asked to the candidates for town justice was how court procedures can be improved. Gorss replied that the judge needs to be a public servant. Mitchell noted that it is imperative for a judge to keep track of the law, as it is constantly changing.

Then the prospective candidates for councilman were asked what they believe is the most important issue concerning the Town of Montgomery. Keenan noted that communication could see improvement. Warrington added that the town board has to follow through on completing tasks.

Later, Cockburn and Hoyt stated that if elected, they plan to improve the town’s comprehensive plan. Many members of the town board believed that the taxpayers should not pay for their healthcare. Cockburn noted that this will not benefit the taxpayers and Brown added that they do not deserve it, as they are only part-time employees.


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