HILLSDALE — Town Democrats will choose two out of three candidates June 22 to represent the party in November for four-year town board seats. Thomas Carty and Gillian Sims-Elster, both incumbents, are running for reelection, and Joanna Virello is challenging one of their spots.
Thomas P. Carty, 76, who is retired and living in Hillsdale, is finishing his first four-year term on the town board. Carty is co-chairman of the town’s economic development committee and thinks economic development is the top issue facing Hillsdale.
“At the crossroads of state Routes 22 and 23, Hillsdale is exceptionally well-positioned for sustainable economic growth,” he said. “Many stores and businesses have opened in recent years and I will work hard to see this continue. Our goal is to maintain our small-town feel while offering a wide array of products and services to residents and tourists alike while keeping our tax rate low.”
Carty helped raise over $80,000 in grants for new LED street lights in the town and installing solar panels on the highway garage.
“I am a proven problem-solver and pledge to work hard to keep Hillsdale moving forward,” he said.
Gilliam Sims-Elster, a long-time Hillsdale resident and Taconic Hills graduate, is a bank manager and has been on the town board for 11 years. Affordable housing for new members of the workforce is the top issue in Hillsdale for Sims-Elster. The town also has to focus on economic growth for businesses as the pandemic dwindles, she said.
“We need to find out which are doing well and if some are struggling,” she said. “If they are, what are their needs and is there any way the town can help?”
Sims-Elster is a founding member of Roe Jan Park, helped oversee the growth of the youth program, relaunched the economic committee as co-chairwoman and was an active participant in the town’s budget management, she said.
“I believe I am widely known in the community as someone who is honest, fair and fiscally responsible,” she said.
Joanna K. Virello, 55, is a public relations and marketing professional in Hillsdale. She has served on the Hillsdale Economic Committee for three years. Virello said she has been a proud Democrat her entire life and wants to bring “new energy” to Hillsdale’s local government.
“I share the beliefs and principles of the Democratic Party and want to bring these progressive ideas to the local level,” she said. Hillsdale’s business and economic development are hurting because of the lack of workforce housing available, she said. “If we don’t deal with this issue soon, it will stifle further growth in our community,” she said. “We need bold solutions and big thinking to solve this.” Virello has a passion for problem-solving and is deeply invested in the Hillsdale community, she said.
Revised 11:25 a.m., June 15, 2021