Meet the Town of Newburgh candidates

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 10/26/21

Paul Ruggiero and Elizabeth “Betty” Greene will face first time candidates Terri Blancato-Horton and Donette Smith at the polls on November 2 for seats on the town board. Gilbert …

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Meet the Town of Newburgh candidates


Paul Ruggiero and Elizabeth “Betty” Greene will face first time candidates Terri Blancato-Horton and Donette Smith at the polls on November 2 for seats on the town board. Gilbert Piaquadio, Joseph Pedi, and Lisa Vance-Ayers will be running unopposed in the upcoming town board elections. With less than a few weeks away, candidates are still out on the streets, handing out pomp cards, connecting on social media and speaking with constituents.

Gilbert Piaquadio
Born in the Bronx, Piaquadio has lived in the Town of Newburgh for more than 35 years, with a background in law enforcement and security. Piaquadio first joined the town board back in 2003, where he served as Deputy Supervisor under former supervisor Wayne Booth. Piaquadio was elected town supervisor in 2014. Piaquadio and his wife have raised several adult children.

While running the office during the pandemic, Piaquadio worked to keep essential offices open, provide the vaccine to residents, and provide up to date information online for residents. During Piaquadio’s term as supervisor, several accomplishments include Local Law #3: Hotel Motel Tax which allows local hotels and motels to be taxed at a small percentage, bringing in half a million dollars to the town. Piaquadio and the board have also acquired 20 acres of property on the waterfront for the town which will be used for town park land. The property also has a well that will provide water for the town. Piaquaido and the board also worked with William Kaplan in acquiring the Desmond Estate to be utilized as a future park and as a senior learning center.

When re-elected, Piaquaido wants to assure residents of his and the board’s commitment to serving the town going forward.

Paul Ruggiero
For the last eight years, Ruggiero has served on the Newburgh town board and is looking for re-election on November 2.

Born in the Newburgh area, Ruggiero attended and graduated from Newburgh Free Academy and Orange County Community College (OCCC). In 1987, he founded and continues to run his business, Eclipse Solar Control Products.

Ruggiero and his wife of 36 years have raised two adult children here in town. Last December and during the course of this year, Ruggiero was in constant contact with constituents. With many new residents coming to the area, Ruggiero hopes to garner town interest through door knocking and speaking to every constituent. Behind the scenes, Ruggiero and the board collaborate closely on town needs, maintenance and other financial ventures for the betterment of the town.

“We’re always talking and working,” Ruggiero said. “We really have a nice diversified board.”

During his recent term, Ruggiero has assisted in keeping the town’s budget under the tax cap, purchasing and revitalizing the Desmond Estate and renovating 21 Hudson Valley Plaza.

If re-elected, Ruggiero and the board will continue to work on the creation of a new recreation center at Chadwick Lake and a new riverfront park property. Ruggiero will also work on more busing to assist senior residents in the town.

Elizabeth “Betty” Greene
For the past 12 years Greene has actively served on the board alongside Ruggiero and is also looking for re-election on November 2.

Born in New Windsor, Greene moved to the Town of Newburgh when she married her husband Don Greene 56 years ago. She and her husband have raised two adult children and is a proud grandmother to several grandchildren.

Greene currently serves as the current President of Newburgh American Legion Auxiliary Post 1420. She is a town council liaison to the Ambulance Corps, Assessor’s Office, Personnel Dept. Recreation Dept. and other organizations. Greene was also the town’s Receiver of Taxes at one time.

During the course of her terms, Greene has recognized residential satisfaction with the decisions and leadership of the board. Yet in turn it led to difficulty with resident involvement. Town growth and expansion with developments and the election drawing closer, it makes the local vote important to Greene.

With the board, if re-elected, Greene looks forward to: the creation and construction of a new recreation center that was initially announced at a board meeting several weeks ago; and to continuing to reach out and listen to constituents, both new and old.

Terri Blancato-Horton
Originally growing up in the City of Pittsburgh, PA, Blancato-Horton moved to the City of Middletown, when she was pursuing her travel career. Prior to moving to Orange County, she worked for United Airlines, then pursued her corporate travel career.

When that career ended, she went to OCCC to study as an x-ray tech. During one of her patient’s visits, the patient was running for local office and encouraged Blancato-Horton to become invested into the political realm.

From then on, Blancato-Horton and her family became involved in a variety of local, state and national political movements. It was through a rally that she met Donette Smith and when the seats were up for election in Newburgh, the two of them decided to run. She previously served as the vice president for the Orange County Democratic Women. While local elections do not garner large interest, Blancato-Horton encourages her constituents to come out and support local candidates.

Donette Smith
A long time resident of Orange County, this will be Smith’s first time running for public office.

“It’s great to be out in the community talking to people,” Smith said. “I really have been enjoying that.”

She is a graduate of Marywood University with a masters in social work and graduated from OCCC and East Stroudsburg University. In her 18 years in the Town of Newburgh, Smith has worked as a We Are Newburgh and Keep It Moving volunteer. As the election draws near, Smith’s door knocking has helped her connect with constituents, engaging in discussions that will hopefully translate into support at the polls.

“You (Town of Newburgh) deserve more,” Smith said. “Terri and I can be that change.”

Joseph Pedi
After several years as Town Clerk, Pedi will be stepping down from the position and stepping into the role of Receiver of Taxes in the town. For Pedi, this will be a new position but he looks forward to the role. His successor to the Town Clerk is Deputy Town Clerk Lisa Vance-Ayers.

Even while working during the pandemic, Pedi held down the office and adjusted with the challenges that came along with the job. With the position and other positions before, efficiency and accuracy are most important and working with this specific town board has been a pleasure for him.

“In my 40 years of working, this is the best organization I’ve ever been involved in,” Pedi said. Pedi graduated from Rutgers University with a masters of science in biomedical engineering in 1981 and bachelors in biology from Lehman College in 1978.

Lisa Vance-Ayers
Vance-Ayers will be running unopposed for the Town Clerk position in the upcoming town elections. As she steps in the new role, she will be succeeding Joseph Pedi as the Town Clerk, who has helped her prepare for the role ahead.

“I’m excited to take on the challenge”, Vance-Ayers said. “Joe (Pedi) has been a great mentor. Our door’s always open.” Vance-Ayers has been employed by the town since 2017 and served under the late Andrew Zarutskie until his passing in 2019.

A lifelong Orange County resident, graduate of Newburgh Free Academy and Town of Newburgh resident for the last decade, she is here for the residents of the town and looks forward to the work and support ahead in the new role.


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