GNH Lumber February 2024

Many slots, few contests mark Ancram election

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ANCRAM–As Election campaigns go, this one is sedate with only one local race — three men vying for two seats on the Town Board.

The preliminary budget for the coming year appears to have taxes remaining flat for this town of just under 1,600 and much has been accomplished over the last two years under the leadership of Supervisor Art Bassin, who is running unopposed for his second two-year term.

Art Bassin, 67, is a Democrat who is also cross-endorsed by Republicans.

He was born in New York City and earned an AB at Harvard College in 1965 and an MBA at Harvard Business School in 196.

He served in the US Army as an artillery officer, 1965 to 1967; forward observer, battery commander, HQ company commander; 1Lt.; and in the US Army Reserves from 1967 to 1972.

Mr. Bassin was a vice president at Citibank, 1969 to 1983; executive VP at Dime Savings Bank, 1983 to 1992; and president and CEO of TV Data Technologies 1994 to 2001.

From 2010 to the present he has served as director, Salisbury Bank and a member of the Loan, Audit, Investment and Human Resources committees; director and treasurer of the Amputee Coalition of America from 2005 to 2009; chair of the Ancram Comp Plan Committee 2007 to 2010; chair, Community Development Block Grant Strategic Plan Committee, 2008 to 2010; chair, Ag and Farmland Protection Plan Committee, 2008 to 2011.

According to the supervisor, the major issues facing Ancram are:

*Continued implementation of the April 2010 Comprehensive Plan

*Revision of the town’s 1972 zoning & subdivision laws to make them consistent with the Comprehensive Plan

*Better communications about zoning and better building code compliance/enforcement

*Maintaining tight financial controls to keep town property taxes flat while we continue to invest in essential town projects

*Fixing the 82/7 intersection in the center of Ancram

*Encouraging and promoting agriculture, business and community development

*Better cell service for the town.

Major accomplishments over the past two years have been:

*In April 2010, we adopted our Comprehensive Plan and appointed a Zoning Revisions Committee to make the town’s zoning and subdivision laws consistent with the newly adopted Comp Plan

*In December 2010, we completed the expansion and renovation of the old highway department garage building, on time and on budget. This was the least cost, least disruptive and most environmentally sensible solution.

*In 2011, we converted an old Milk Factory building at the garage site into a salt shed using an innovative approach that saved the old building and cost less than $60,000.

*In 2011, we built a new playground, and started up a kid’s summer camp.

*We have developed an active and growing network of volunteers who give generously of their time and money to help advance the community’s agenda.

Mr. Bassin and his wife, Susan, live on a horse farm in Ancramdale.

The three candidates in the race for two Town Board seats, each with a four-year-term, are incumbents John A. MacArthur and James P. Miller, both enrolled Republicans, and political newcomer Hugh D. Clark, who has no party affiliation, but is endorsed by Democrats.

Hugh Clark, 67, is retired after a 30-year Army career serving in Vietnam, the US and Europe. He served as a battalion and brigade commander; corps provost marshal, on the faculty at West Point; executive to the director of the Army Staff (Pentagon); and commandant, Army Management Staff College.

He spent the following 11 years as a consultant to the National Academy of Public Administration and as director of Leadership Development at the state School Boards Association.

Born in Danbury, CT, Mr. Clark’s education includes a MA at Emory University; AB at Middlebury College and US Army War College (Army Fellow).

He is chair of the Ancram Zoning Revisions Committee and served on the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee from 2008 to 2010. He is on the parish council at Saint Bernard Church.

In his statement of issues Mr. Clark says, “The future doesn’t just happen. It’s forged by what we do or fail to do. So, one priority is to fully implement the Comprehensive Plan: adopt zoning to protect agriculture, open space, and water; increase small and home-based businesses; upgrade hamlet commercial centers; and ensure affordable housing for seniors and young couples. Another priority: Hold town taxes flat, while influencing money management at the county level. And one more: Communicate openly and coordinate thoroughly–get all viewpoints on the table; find common ground; align decisions, policies and resources with goals. It’s not easy, but it works–plan, act, improve.”

He and his wife, Sheila, moved to Ancramdale in 1999. They have two sons, Brian and Tom, who are grown and have families of their own.

John MacArthur, 57, is endorsed by Republicans and the Independence Party and seeks his second four-year-term on the Town Board.

Born in Great Barrington, MA, Mr. MacArthur went to Pine Plains High School, SUNY Cobleskill and Columbia Greene Community College.

He has been superintendent of grounds at the Undermountain Golf Course, Inc. for 21 years and snowmaking supervisor at the Catamount Ski Area for 20 years.

Mr. MacArthur served in the US Navy for three years and six years in active reserve.

He is a 31-year member of the Ancram Fire Company, currently serving as assistant chief (12 years), past vice president, secretary and safety training officer. He is a volunteer emergency medical technician with the Community Rescue Squad.

In his statement of issues, Mr. MacArthur says, “I will continue reviewing the recommendations of the Zoning Revisions Committee, insuring fairness to all residents of the Town of Ancram. I would like to make certain zoning laws are not restrictive to business growth, particularly to communication industries. As a member of volunteer emergency services I feel it is imperative to update wireless communications in our area. Due to the growth of State and Federal government and unfunded mandates it has become necessary for some local governments to increase taxes.  It is my hope that we can keep our taxes level, but not at the expense to local services, such as highway maintenance. Saving of tax revenues must began at the top.”

Mr. MacArthur and his wife, Patricia, live in Boston Corners and have two children, Sarah, 18, a college freshman, and John, 15, a high-school sophomore.

James Miller, 55, has the GOP, Democratic and Independence party endorsements. He has served on the Town Board for three years and seeks his first full four-year term.

Born in Poughkeepsie, Mr. Miller graduated from Pine Plains High School and is a dairy farmer on the family farm — Millerhurst in Ancramdale. He is a life member of the Ancram Fire Company.

Mr. Miller says some of the issues facing Ancram are: the ongoing effort to revise the Zoning Law; to finally bring cell phone service to the town; and keeping town taxes under control.

“If re-elected I will work on these issues and any others that come up for the benefit of the entire town and its taxpayers,” he said in his statement of issues.

He and his wife, Janice, have three daughters: Shannon, Erin and Leah.

Incumbent Republican Town Justice George K. Wittlinger, Sr., 77, took office in January 2000. He is seeks another four-year term with GOP, Democratic and Independence party endorsements.

Born in Tarrytown, Judge Wittlinger graduated from SUNY Farmingdale in 1955 with an associate’s degree in agriculture. For 38 years, he was supervisor of the public park and museum at Old Westbury Gardens.

He has been the building manager of the Ancram Town Hall since 2003. He is vice president of the Ancram Fire Company; member and past president of the Columbia County Magistrates Association; on the board of directors at Old Westbury Gardens and an associate member of the Ancram Youth Commission. He served in the US Army from 1957 to 1959 and was in the reserves from 1960 to 1964.

He became a judge because he wanted to do something to help the town and community. “I try to be fair and just in my decisions and hope to do justice for the town,” he said.

He and his wife Ruth have three children, George, Jr., Daniel and Dianne, who is deceased.

Robert B. Wilcox, 63, a Democrat, has served one four-year term as town justice. He is endorsed by his own party and the Republicans in his bid for a second term.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Judge Wilcox earned a BA in history at Lafayette College and an MBA in marketing and finance from Boston University.

He served in the US Army from 1970 to 1974 as a first lieutenant, Special Forces A-Team commander. He worked for Citibank from 1976 to 1980 and was self-employed with Wilcox & Associates from 1980 to 2000.

Mr. Wilcox serves on the town’s Youth Commission and Financial Advisory Committee.

His goal is to become more proficient at procedure and more knowledgeable of statute and case law. “To be unwaveringly fair…giving the contesting parties the opportunity to ‘make their case.’  Being a good listener; explaining the process to self-represented parties…in short, ‘doing Justice’…the goal of any good judge.”

He and his wife, Leah, have two grown sons, Rob and Andrew.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Monica R. Cleveland, 33, has been in office for eight years. A Republican, she has her own party’s endorsement as well as those of town Democrats and the Independence Party.

Born in Sharon, CT, she is a 1997 graduate of Pine Plains Central School and attended Columbia-Greene Community College. She worked at Salisbury Bank and Trust from 1999 to 2001.

She serves as elder, clerk of session and secretary of the Ancramdale Presbyterian Church, where she is also the Sunday School superintendent. She is on the Ancram Youth Commission and is a Girl Scout leader.

In her statement of issues, Mrs. Cleveland said, “I thank the residents of the Town of Ancram for their continued support over the years.  I have enjoyed my time at the town and look forward to many more years.  I have worked hard to bring the office of the Town Clerk into the 21st century by utilizing the internet. With the help of Supervisor Bassin, we had all town laws and ordinances put on the town website so that residents can look at them when they wish to. I have also made an effort to keep the town’s minutes and publications up to date on the website as well. I will continue these ventures in my next four years of office.”

She and her husband, Brandon have two children, Sydney, 10, and Ronald, 4 ½

Incumbent Republican Highway Superintendent James MacArthur, 61, has been in office for 16 years. He is running unopposed for another term.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

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