KINDERHOOK — Two candidates are vying for one seat on the Kinderhook Town Council.

Deborah Johnson and Melissa Miller will be on the ballot.

Deborah Johnson, 56, was appointed to the seat vacated by Town Supervisor Patsy Leader when Leader was elected to the council’s top spot in 2019. Johnson served on the board from 2001 to 2009, and was deputy supervisor from 2007 to 2009.

She is a lifelong resident of Columbia County and has two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

Johnson is a client services coordinator and title closer at SMPR Title Agency, where she has worked for more than 21 years. She is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College.

Johnson is running on the Republican and Independence lines.

Public safety and infrastructure are a key focus of her campaign.

“Right now keeping residents safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority,” Johnson said. “Working to obtain funds for the repair of town roads needs to also be a priority.”

She would be able to work with all residents, Johnson said.

“I am an enrolled Independent Party member. I have been endorsed by and ran on the Democratic, Republican, Independent and Working Families lines. Because of this diversity I am able to work with everyone equally,” Johnson said. “I have and will remain an independent voice for the residents of the town of Kinderhook.”

Johnson said the accomplishment she is most proud of is the construction of Volunteers Park.

“The park offers something for everyone,” Johnson said.

Melissa Miller, 38, has lived in Columbia County for 18 years and is a resident of Valatie. She has two teenage daughters.

She is a pet sitter and dog walker and will be on the Kinderhook United and Democratic party lines.

Miller received an associate degree from the State University of New York at Canton and a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam.

Communication in the community is the biggest issue she wants to address if elected.

“Residents of Kinderhook have the right to know what our elected officials are doing for us and the town,” Miller said. “I would create a Communication Committee tasked with keeping an open and productive two-way line of communication between the town and the residents.”

She wants to bring improvements to the town website, Miller said.

“First and foremost, the committee would get our town website updated and in working order. Additionally, the website should be used to promote our local small businesses and host a comprehensive town calendar,” she said. “By using additional tools such as social media posts, an enewsletter, monthly posts in our local newspapers and a low-cost printed newsletter for folks without computer access or knowledge we can further expand the ways in which the town ensures all residents have access to the information they need. The committee would also be tasked with providing outlets for residents to express questions, concerns and inquiries as well as how to contact the appropriate people.

“All residents of Kinderhook should feel they are adequately informed and that they are encouraged to engage with town officials. This will result in an engaged community that feels welcomed to actively participate in the way our town is governed.”

Miller hopes to bring a fresh, people-centered approach to the town council, she said.

“With my education in psychology and sociology and my years of experience working with varying populations of people I can bring new perspectives to the board and an ability to work respectfully and productively with the full board,” Miller said. “My past and current experience as the ICC (Ichabod Crane Central) PTA treasurer supports my ability to understand and help manage a budget.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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