The Town of Plattekill’s race for Supervisor will pit former Supervisor Judy Mayle against political newcomer Jennifer Salemo on Nov. 2.
The winner will replace Joseph Croce, a Republican, who decided not to seek office again after serving as Town Supervisor since 2013. The Supervisor serves a two-year term.
In addition to the Supervisor’s race, incumbent Town Board members Darryl Matthews and Dean DePew Sr. are both running again. They will be challenged by former Town Board member and former Town Clerk Cindy Delgado. The Town Board terms are for four years.
Town Highway Superintendent Robert Wager Sr. is unopposed for another four-year term in the other town race.
Early voting in Ulster County will be held from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31 at six sites. Check the Ulster County Board of Elections website for voting sites and the times they are open.
Mayle, a Democrat, was Plattekill’s Supervisor from 1992 through 2002. Prior to serving 10 years heading the town government, she was a Town Councilwoman from 1986 through 1990. She also was a Planning Board member from 2003 to 2012.
A practicing attorney, Mayle also is the owner and operator of Stone Silo Farm and J&J Performance Horses where she breeds and raises performance quarter horses.
Mayle has also been an EMS volunteer for 30 years with the Plattekill Fire Department.
Mayle said she decided to run for Supervisor again because she has not been happy with the way the Town of Plattekill has been run since she left office nearly two decades ago.
“Unfortunately, over the past years our town has become stagnant and adrift without any direction or plans,” she said. “There really have not been any changes to the programs that I started when I was Town Supervisor like Plattekill Day, Fireworks in the Park, our year-round recreation program, economic development, business districts and low-interest loans for struggling homeowners.”
Mayle also said that other than a veteran’s memorial built by volunteers not much has been done to expand Thomas Felten Park and its programs since she left office.
She also claimed the Town Board has mishandled its financial resources and fund balances and has ignored numerous opportunities to obtain grants.
Mayle said among the most important accomplishments during her tenure as Supervisor were building Thomas Felten Park with grant money and volunteer workers and establishing business districts that attracted Hannaford Supermarket, Stewart’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, medical and professional offices, restaurants and auto repair shops. She said she also secured $1 million in funding to close the landfill, pay for post monitoring protocols and build a transfer station.
Mayle said she supports the idea of building a new community center at the town park, but she said there needs to “be a plan and purpose for the building, including the cost to build and maintain the building.”
Mayle said her experience in running the town for 10 years and serving on the Town Board for four years gave her a decided edge over Salemo, who has never held office.
“I will not need on-the-job training,” Mayle said. “I already know how to do the job and will hit the ground running. If I am elected, there is a lot of work to do and I will not wait until Jan. 1. I will start working on Nov. 3, 2021.”
The first order of business would be “addressing the $1,040,000 the town will receive under the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund,” Mayle said. “I have educated myself on the eligible uses of these funds and will not waste any time in identifying eligible projects to start using this money.”
When asked her position about the proposed drag strip in Modena, Mayle criticized the Town Board for failing to provide the correct information to the business owner.
“To me, the issue is not whether you do or do not support the Modena drag strip,” she said. “The real issue is that the Town Board has ignored and developed no plans for business development in our town. As a result, the first time a racetrack walks in the door, instead of the town ensuring that the owner receives the correct information, the Town Board pays no attention and our community winds up embroiled in another controversy leaving residents, business owners and the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) to battle.”
General Manager and part owner of Turtle Creek Golf Course, Salemo has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties.
Salemo has an associate’s degree from St. John’s University. She was the president of the Southern Ulster Rotary Club from 2018 through 2019.
Salemo said being a local business owner for the past 22 years has prepared her for the job.
“I’d like to bring some of my own experiences at running a business into the Town of Plattekill,” she said. “I feel that after all these years of having such strong support from the community and the local government, I’d like to give back to the community by serving our town as Supervisor.”
One of her strengths, Salemo said, is her ability to deal with the public.
“I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of building the golf business as well as the catering business here at Turtle Creek Golf Course,” she said. “The day-to-day operation of such a business requires a lot of energy, strong leadership as well as knowing how to keep an integrity that one is proud of to build a strong and successful business. I interact well with people whether dealing with my own staff or my customers. I’m a good listener and a great problem solver.”
In her discussions with town residents, Salemo said their overwhelming concern was to keep spending down.
“I think the most important issue to the residents of Plattekill is taxes,” she said. “The Republican Town Board has not raised taxes in eight years. I think we as a community should give thanks to our town officials and board members for their efforts in keeping this town affordable in order to live a decent life while raising a family.”
Salemo took issue with Mayle’s claim that the town’s finances have been mishandled.
“I have heard the rumors just like everyone else that the current Town Board is taking too much money out of the unallocated funds to balance the budget and offset property tax increases,” Salemo said. “Nothing can be further from the truth. The Town of Plattekill is in great fiscal health.”
Salemo said Mayle’s final budget as Supervisor had a seven percent increase in property taxes.
“My opponent increased taxes more in her last year than our Republican Town Board did in the last eight years,” she said. “The last two years of her term, my opponent balanced the budget by taking an increased amount of $108,000 out of the unallocated funds. That is an increase of 170 percent over the previous two years. I will do everything in my power not to raise taxes.”
Salemo said she favored building a new community center as long as it is built without raising taxes.
“I think a community center would be great for our residents,” she said. “If we decide to move forward on a community center, it must be fully paid for without raising taxes.”
Salemo said she favored smart growth, but not fast growth in the town.
“It is important to welcome new businesses that lend itself to the rural character of the town,” she said. “I think businesses that offer services to the community as well as bring in tourism to the area are good to have. We need to keep in mind that it happens at a pace where our residents are not affected negatively like having an influx of traffic on our town roads.”
Salemo said she supported the Zoning Board of Appeal’s decision not to allow a variance for the Modena drag strip.
“Right now, the applicants have not presented a secondary plan,” she said. “If they do, I will take a long hard look at it, before I say I support it or not.”
Delgado was Town Clerk from 1992-95 and has served a total of 12 years on the Town Board. She was defeated in a re-election bid in 2017 by DePew and Matthews.
The Democratic nominee is currently the president of the Plattekill Fire District.
While on the campaign trail, Delgado has heard repeatedly from residents that the Town of Plattekill hasn’t kept up with the times.
“Basically, they think the town has stalled,” she said. “It hasn’t gone anywhere. They want Plattekill to move forward. Not quickly. They want it done the right way. But they want to see more.”
For instance, Delgado feels the town has been slow in developing Thomas Felten Park.
“I helped build that park,” she said. “It’s wonderful that we see soccer there and children playing there. It’s great to see the pavilion being used, but we have all that other acreage that just sits there.”
Delgado supports the idea of the proposed community center at the town park.
“I don’t know what’s too big or what’s too small,” she said. “I honestly don’t know. That’s why I’ve been listening (to the discussions at board meetings). That’s why I’d rather have a professional come in and tell us what we need for a town this size.”
DEAN DEPEW SR.
DePew was first appointed to the Town Board in April of 2013 due to a vacancy. He has won three elections to retain his seat, including one in November of 2019 after he was forced to resign due to stipulations in his state retirement from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS).
Following a 33-year career in corrections, DePew ended his brief retirement in 2019 and is now working in the Wildlife Division for Region 3 in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He is also a 41-year member of Modena Fire & Rescue.
DePew has the Republican and Conservative party endorsements.
DePew served on the committee that negotiated the sale of the town-owned building and property to the Plattekill Public Library. DePew would like to see the $275,000 the town received from the sale used as seed money for construction of the proposed community center.
“Every day is budget day and much like your home budget, you must live within your means,” DePew said. “I truly believe ten dollars in a person’s pocket means a lot. When we look at fees and rising costs, we do our best to keep those ten dollars in your pocket and work hard to keep Plattekill as a place we are proud to live in, as well as affordable.”
Matthews, who has the Republican and Conservative endorsements, will be seeking his second four-year term after being elected for the first time in 2018.
Prior to running for the Town Board, Matthews served on the Town of Plattekill Planning Board from 2011-2017.
Matthews is retired. His family owned and operated Modena Country Club Inc. from 1967 until February of 2020.
Matthews said keeping spending under control is important to him.
“Understanding it is the residents’ money we are working with and minimize the tax impact on them,” Matthews said.
Other issues that Matthews listed as important going forward include having a business-friendly atmosphere to help promote business opportunities in the town, finishing the master plan, updating the town code book and moving forward on park expansion.
ROBERT WAGER SR
Wager has been the Highway Superintendent since 2010. He is running unopposed and has been endorsed by the Republican, Democratic and Conservative parties.
A lifelong resident of Plattekill, Wager currently serves as the president of the Ulster County Association of Town Superintendents.
Wager, who began working for the Town of Plattekill as a mechanic in 2005, is responsible for the maintenance of over 100 lane miles of town roads. He has a 10-person department and operates with a $2.1 million budget.
As the supervisor of buildings and grounds, Wager oversees repairs to town-owned facilities and non-highway department vehicles such as police cars and building inspector vehicles. He is also responsible for the maintenance of the buildings and grounds department and the town park.
“The highway department budget has been kept under control,” Wager said. “We balance our books every day. We continuously manage our funds to maintain the roads and equipment.”