New Town of Plattekill Supervisor Jennifer Salemo hadn’t really thought about running for office before until she received a phone call from Ulster County Legislator Kevin Roberts a year ago. After meeting with Roberts and other prominent Republicans in the town, she decided to toss her hat in the ring.
“Actually, I wasn’t seeking any seat in the government,” Salemo said. “I paid attention and became very interested in supporting our government some years ago. I was honored to be asked to run for Supervisor. This was a chance for me to serve my community.”
Salemo beat out former Supervisor Judy Mayle in the November election and was sworn in on Jan. 1 to replace Joseph Croce, who chose not to run for re-election after heading the Town of Plattekill government from 2013 through 2021.
Born in Taiwan, Salemo moved to the United States as a 5-year-old. She grew up on Long Island and was an assistant banquet manager at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel for two years before working at a family-owned deli
Salemo, 50, has spent the last 22 years as the General Manager of the nine-hole Turtle Creek Golf Course at Garden Cathay on Plattekill Ardonia Road. Her daughter Taylor is a freshman at Virginia Tech.
Turtle Creek has a restaurant and a banquet hall and will begin offering catering services again in 2022 after taking the past two years off due to the pandemic.
Over the past four years, Turtle Creek has undergone major renovations to the course, including construction of a new driving range and pro shop.
Though Salemo will remain in charge of the golf course operation, she isn’t worried about balancing her duties as Town Supervisor with her own business. The Town Supervisor’s salary is $35,182 a year. Salemo could also earn $5,600 a year as the town’s budget officer.
“I plan to be very organized with my time and delegate to my team on both the business end as well as the town,” she said. “Any organization is successful when members of the team all step up and do their part. It’s not solely up to any one individual. I feel we have great members and committees in place at the town level as well as on my team at Turtle Creek.”
Salemo feels that the Town of Plattekill is in sound financial footing thanks to the hard work of Croce and the Republican Town Board over the past decade.
“I have a great team in place at the Town Board and they all will be a great pleasure to work with,” she said. “I’m also lucky to have Joe Croce as a good friend. He’s done a marvelous job in running our town during his time as Supervisor. He will be a great resource for advice and ideas.”
Salemo said one of her top priorities will be keeping taxes low so residents can remain in Plattekill and local businesses can flourish. There was no increase in taxes during Croce’s tenure, which is something Salemo would like to emulate.
“I think it’s important to keep our taxes low while at the same time offering services to our community,” Salemo said.
Mayle said during the 2021 campaign that the town had become “stagnant and adrift” during Croce’s administration and suggested that the Town of Plattekill should reactivate the Economic Development Committee to create “some strategies for economic development and promoting businesses.”
Salemo said she would “absolutely” consider Mayle’s suggestion.
“I have some ideas because I would like to see the economy build up in the town,” Salemo said. “I think the town has a lot of potential to attract businesses. It is important, though, to welcome new businesses that lend themselves to the rural character of the town.”
Salemo said she favored building a new community center at Thomas Felten Park as long as it is built without raising taxes.
The new Town Supervisor said she is aware of a petition to save the Plattekill Corners General Store from being demolished that is close to having 25,000 signatures. A Newburgh fuel distributor is proposing to build a new convenience store and gas station at the site, which is located about a mile from Turtle Creek’s entrance.
The new owners of the property have made two appearances before the Town Planning Board and are currently seeking five variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27.
“Would it be nice to have a business there that offers a convenience store and gas station?” Salemo asked. “Yes. I’d like to see new businesses in town. But it’s important to see why people are opposed to this. It’s all about communication with everyone.”
Salemo will preside over her first Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5 at the Town Hall.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.