GHENT — Candidates Mallory Mort and Craig Simmons will go head to head in the race for Ghent town supervisor Nov. 2

Both candidates were asked to complete a questionnaire about their candidacy. Their responses are presented in alphabetical order.

Name: Mallory Mort

Age: 64

Family: I have been married to Karen Roberts Mort for 41 years and we have three sons: Emory, 38, Austin, 34 and Tyler, 31.

How long you have lived in the county: I have lived in Ghent for 42 years

Occupation: I am the general manager of Gallagher’s Stud, where I have worked for 42 years.

Are you an incumbent: No

Party lines on ballot: Democratic, Working Families, Ghent United

Previous elected offices: Ghent Town Board, 2014-present

What do you think is the top issue facing your community? What would you do to address this issue if elected?

One of the top issues facing Ghent at the town board level is how to improve our local infrastructure — whether it’s broadband, climate smart initiatives, repairs to Town Hall, or support for local businesses and families in need — to best serve the residents of the town. We have a headstart. Thanks to the Democrats in Congress, the town will be receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus funds through the American Rescue Plan. We have also been awarded a grant through Congressman Delgado’s office that will enable us to provide broadband for 300 homes and businesses in Ghent that are currently unserved. I want to bring the community together and listen to our residents so that we can use these funds effectively and responsibly, and seek additional state and federal funding as needed to further our community’s priorities without affecting our local taxes.

Why do you think you will be a good supervisor?

I will be a good supervisor because my extensive government experience and community service have helped me understand the needs of our residents and prepared me to be the financial officer of the town. I have served on the Ghent Town Board for nearly eight years, and am on the Columbia County Ag and Farmland Protection Board, the Town Climate Smart Committee, and the Columbia County Planning Board.

My experience will serve me well in managing and administering the town budget responsibly. I have been through the budget process six times and in each of those years the town has been below the state-mandated cap. I, along with the current supervisor, just completed my second successful union negotiation and developed an affordable health insurance solution for the town’s employees and as general manager of Gallagher’s Stud for many years I have been tasked with producing, and sticking to, an annual budget roughly the same size as Ghent’s.

Additionally, I have worked hard over the years to find ways to develop Climate Smart initiatives in Ghent, and to find grant funding for other town projects to benefit our residents. Over the last few years I have helped obtain grants of $5,000 from DEC, $35,000 from NYSERDA and $250,000 from the State and Municipal Facilities program for an EV charging station, energy efficiency/ solar energy production for municipal buildings and town recreational facilities upgrades. The grants allowed the town to make these money-saving upgrades at little to no cost to local taxpayers. I have also recently applied for grants on behalf of the town for help with a thorough review of our comprehensive plan and another SAM Facilities grant for much-needed masonry work at Town Hall that will help keep the taxpayer impact of those projects to a minimum.

Name: Craig Simmons

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Catherine Simmons; daughters Kelsey, 29, Morgan, 19, and Jordan, 18

How long you have lived in the county: Lifelong resident of Ghent

Occupation: I’m a third-generation Ghent farmer, raising crops, cattle and bees. I am also a 35-year owner and operator of Simmons Automotive, Inc.

Are you an incumbent: No

Party line on ballot: Conservative and Republican

Previous elected offices: Eight years on New York State Angus Association, nine years on Chatham school board

College: Technical training in automotive

What do you think is the top issue facing your community? What would you do to address this issue if elected?

The top issue facing my community is affordable housing. We are losing young residents to other states due to increased housing values. Finding affordable housing for our elderly population is also a huge concern of mine. As Ghent town supervisor, I promise to work with our other elected officials to find alternatives to the housing crisis here in Columbia County. There is a lot of property within Columbia County that could be put to good use to assist in alleviating the lack of affordable housing.

Why do you think you will be a good supervisor? What are you most proud of accomplishing if you hold office? If you are a newcomer, what are you looking forward to accomplishing if elected?

I would be a good supervisor for the Town of Ghent because I am a hardworking and involved community member. I am a good listener and open to ideas. I genuinely care about my fellow Ghent residents and what they have to say. I believe everyone here has something to contribute to our town and I want to be able to work together as a community. Along with that, I will bring budget management experience to the board. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and work on CCSD’s budget over the past 10 years as a member of Chatham’s school board. This combined with my union negotiation experience can help on both the town and county level.

I am looking to pull our community together and hold meetings where all community members, including our various government employees and board members, feel welcome to participate. I am looking to have meetings open and easy for all to attend for full transparency. I will work to address the issues of affordable housing, increased programs especially for youth and the elderly, transparency within our government, and common-sense problem solving where neighbors can talk to each other if problems arise.

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