Early this month, Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans expressed surprise that there would be any contests or campaigning in the 2021 village elections, given the spikes and surges of COVID-19. “I can’t see anyone wanting to go door-to-door in a pandemic,” he said.

Evans was almost right. Village elections are Tuesday, but you would hardly know it. Races are scarce. Opposition in the five Greene County villages and four Columbia County villages is limited. But there are issues. Vacancies must be filled. And changes will be evident.

Life after COVID will be the order of the day. In Athens, a new mayor and two trustees candidates, one attempting a comeback and the other a newcomer, will take their places on the board. Amy Serrago, Joshua Lipsman and Nancy Poylo will continue the village’s work and try out new ideas.

The liveliest Greene County race will be in Catskill, where incumbent Republicans Peter Grasse III and Gregory Smith face challenges from Democratic newcomers Mercedes Brantley and Andres “Andy” Gonzalez. And then there is the matter of choosing a successor to Vincent Seeley, who stepped down from the board after a long tenure as village president.

In Tannersville, incumbent Mayor Lee McGunnigle and incumbent trustees David Kashman and Greg Landers are running unopposed, as are Evans and incumbent trustees Donald Daoust and Stephen Hanse in Coxsackie. The village of Hunter does not hold an election this year.

In Columbia County there is only one contested race, in the village of Philmont. Incumbent Village Trustee Brian Johnson is running uncontested to fill the seat being vacated by Mayor Clarence “Skip” Speed, who is not running for re-election. Three candidates are vying for two seats on the village board — incumbents Douglas Cropper and Larry Ostrander, with newcomer Jason Detzel making a bid for a board seat.

There are three uncontested races in Columbia County. In Chatham, Mayor John Howe and trustees Jaimee Boehme and Peter Minahan are running unopposed for re-election. In Kinderhook there are two seats up for grabs with incumbents James Mark Browne and David Flaherty on the ballot. The fourth race, in Valatie, is uncontested with Mayor Frank Bevens and Trustee Larry Eleby Sr. running for re-election, and newcomer Sean Casey running unopposed for the second open trustee seat.

The presence of COVID-19 altered the voting landscape for the village elections, but getting out to vote Tuesday is still important. Take a few moments to help determine the future course of your village.

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(2) comments

BASEMENTDWELLER

I’m pretty sure you can’t tell people who to vote for! That’s voter intimidation, and spreading misinformation. You sink to new lows every day.

scottmyers

Tomorrow is a crucial election for the Village of Catskill. PLEASE VOTE! If you need a ride to the polling place, let me know, I’ll arrange it. (518) 291-8169, or email scottmyers@mac.com

The voting site is the Firehouse up near Walmart. Polls are open from 10 AM until 6 PM. PLEASE VOTE!

Two trustee positions are available. There should be three, but Vincent Seeley left in disgrace. The timing seems to preclude filling that spot. It’s relevant that Vincent Seeley resigned in disgrace after bending over for County Attorney Ed Kaplan. Kaplan asked to allow demolition of 80 Bridge Street, our historic sheriff’s office.

It’s essential to realize Vincent’s cousin Greg Seeley (“ a featured speaker for the Oath Keepers – the source of the recent insurrection in Washington) was named a worst offender as sheriff by the State Commission of Corrections.

Please vote for Mercedes Brantley and Andy Gonzales. Both Mercedes Brantley and Andy Gonzales are highly competent. It’s history just to have them on the ballot. It’s essential to have an inclusive village board.

Their opponents won’t answer a single one of my questions about their past work on the board.

The village needs new representatives.

I asked these questions of Smith and Grasse and got no response. I asked six times.

1. Did you object when the village attorney Hillsinger and Betsy Cotheren denied my FOILs? You were copied on those requests, served copies.

2. The whole Greene County and Village processes are just nightmarish, horrific. Maybe you agree. But you’re a trustee and have a role in these decisions. Do you know the historic building had to be demolished to gain the exception to the 2% property tax caps? The county spent 20% over the legal limit, a new $90 million debt obligation, for 30 years. None of the construction companies are Greene County Companies. None of the 16 million in interest stays here. The $8 million taken from reserves has to be put back and needs to total $42 to $120 million, according to Treasurer Peter Markou.

3. Do you think the Gulags planned next to the prison put our safety net people in jail? Do you agree this denies their rights? That it is intended to harm them? Do you acknowledge that Catholic Charities is inappropriate to manage or pay for this bizarre plan?

4. Do you think we need the Catskill Police Department at all? It’s an all-white force, and that there’s no authoritative civilian review board.

5. Do you acknowledge that Greg Seeley is an Oath Taker?

6. Do you acknowledge that most of the CPD (and others here) take that same oath?

7. Do you acknowledge this is the same group that carried out the insurrection in Washington?

8. Do you acknowledge Greg Seeley was rated a “worst offender” by the State Commission of Corrections (“SCOC”)? http://www.scoc.ny.gov/pdfdocs/Problematic-Jails-Report-2-2018.pdf

9. Do you acknowledge that County Attorney Ed Kaplan placated SCOC for years? https://drive.google.com/open?id=1W0lx1TlaVHQIRzVbBdcZFdB8hOVMLPP8

10. Do you support combining the Town and Village? Combining the Town and Village Court saved $40,000.

11. Do you acknowledge that the draft County Police Review Report is vacuous? Do you agree that without an authoritative civilian, they will have unsupervised power?

12. Do you acknowledge that Joe Koslowski must recuse from any budget or oversight work of the CPD because his son is a Sergeant?

13. DO you acknowledge that Greene County was $53 million in debt before COVID-19? 4

14. Do you acknowledge the CPD won’t wear masks?

15. Do you acknowledge that Vincent Seeley’s mishandling of BLM was serious? You voted in favor of suppressing BLM, right?

16. Do you acknowledge that the Village’s Comprehensive Plan is largely ignored? For instance, 80 Bridge St. is a non-income producing parking lot, contradicting the plan?

17. What is your position on any of these?

18. What did you do to prevent these disasters, other than not voting to demolish 80 Bridge St.?

Please give me your position on the points above.

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