By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — Two candidates will face off in the village’s mayoral election when voters head to the polls March 15.
Incumbent Mayor Bill Misuraca is running for his third term in office. Misuraca is a Republican but did not secure the GOP nomination in the January caucus. He was nominated by the Democratic Party and is running on that party’s ticket. Republican Dominic Ruggeri will appear on the ballot on the GOP line.
Candidates are presented in alphabetical order.
Bill “Moose” Misuraca is a lifelong resident of Ravena and graduated from Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School in 1990. For nearly 30 years he has run his family’s business, the Halfway House Tavern on Main Street in the village. The business has been in his family for 106 years.
Misuraca is finishing his second four-year term in office and is seeking a third. He said the village has much to be proud of.
“We are on a roll,” he said. “We have managed to secure well over $7 million in grants to improve our infrastructure, wastewater retention and disposal, and we have some of the best rates and marks for our water quality in the state, so I am very proud of that. More recently, we received a grant for nearly $200,000 to improve the park, and I think that is really important, especially since the kids have been through so much these past couple of years that having an improved park experience is key.”
The grant that is paying for the improvements at Mosher Park is earmarked for specific uses by the state and will include a number of renovations, Misuraca said.
“One will be a splashpad for the kids at the Mosher Park Pool,” he said. “We will be resurfacing all the courts — basketball, tennis, etc. — and we are planting new trees, playground equipment, landscaping and, hopefully, a large pavilion that would be for summertime use, but in the future could be converted for year-round use for our residents to be able to hold functions like baby showers or birthday parties.”
If elected to a third term, Misuraca said seeking funding for infrastructure improvements would be at the top of his to-do list.
“The biggest thing is we want to continue pursuing grants,” he said. “There is a lot of money out there and now that we have had the time and knowledge and experience to find this money, it is making it a lot easier.”
Improvements have been made to the water delivery system, but more is needed, he said.
“For the water system, we have replaced three miles of pipes out of roughly 20 miles that need to be replaced,” Misuraca said. “It’s very costly — it’s about $1.5 million a mile, but that is one of the most important things. You’ve got to provide that good, solid infrastructure and reliable water to our residents, so we are going to keep moving along with that.”
Continued efforts at economic development are also key in the coming years, he said.
“We’ve had nearly a dozen businesses come in just on Main Street alone in the past eight years and I believe that we’ve got a few more vacant spots — only three — but I think we can get them filled up and build this out as much as possible,” he said.
Misuraca said he is sorry to see current Village Trustee Mary Ellen Rosato leave the board — she decided not to run for another term — but said he sees great possibilities with his running mates, incumbent Democrat Linda Muller and political newcomer Republican Caitlin Appleby.
“I am very pleased with our existing town board and while I am saddened to see Mary Ellen [Rosato] leaving us, I think that this slate of [Linda] Muller and [Caitlin] Appleby — it’s a seamless transition,” Misuraca said. “I think we work very well together and I just want to continue what we are doing.”
Republican candidate Dominic Ruggeri is making his first bid for mayor. He ran for village justice before the position and the court were dissolved by the village board.
Ruggeri has worked in the Human Services field for over 30 years and is currently director of residential services for the non-profit organization Equinox, Inc., in Albany, where he oversees residential housing for adult clients with a mental health diagnosis and teens in the Youth Transitional Living Program. He is responsible for financial budgets, daily operations and working with outside agencies. He has lived in the village for nearly 11 years and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in business from Southern Vermont College.
He said he is running for office because he wants to see change in the village.
“I ran because what I have seen, living in the village the last 10 years, going on 11 years, is that things need to change,” Ruggeri said. “Taxes have gone up, and there is not much economic development that I have seen. I have seen little stuff here and there, but there is not a lot for the village residents. I want to get things back to where they were years ago. It’s not where it’s supposed to be.”
Ruggeri believes his background in management and finance would serve the village well. One of his focuses is bringing in new business to the community.
“There is a lot of room for growth in this village and it’s not being tapped properly,” he said.
He wants to secure funding to support small business and draw new businesses into the area.
“I have one of the best grant writers in the Northeast working for me and she already [knows] about eight or nine grants that will definitely be obtainable,” Ruggeri said. “She has agreed to do them for me if I get in.”
Another top priority for Ruggeri, if he is elected, is to create a community center.
“I want a huge community center — that is one of my biggest priorities,” Ruggeri said. “This village needs a community center that can provide activities and space for the families of this community, especially daycare — we have a lot of working parents and a lot of single working parents.”
A community center would offer daycare and afterschool programs on a sliding scale based on household income to be affordable for working parents, Ruggeri said.
Improving infrastructure is also vital, he said, adding that not enough has been done, particularly for the water system.
“We have done nothing but patchwork,” he said. “I hear everything about what has been done for the water and sewer lines. Well, it’s patchwork — it is putting a Band Aid on the biggest problem we’ve got. There are grants out there that can redo our whole infrastructure and that is what I want to pursue.”
Ruggeri said that if he is elected, he will start a fund for a project to be determined based on what residents say they want on a community survey he would initiate.
“If I get elected, I am donating my first two months’ salary to start up and apply it to whatever fund the people decide on a survey I will send out about what they want to raise money for,” Ruggeri said.
Both candidates urged village residents to head to the polls March 15 to cast their ballots to determine the future of the village.