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Chatham has active races for mayor and 2 board seats

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CHATHAM -Village of Chatham voters will elect a mayor and two trustees Tuesday March 15, with polls open from noon to 9 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

Three candidates are seeking the two seats on the Village Board: incumbent Leal Locke, running on her own Action Party line and incumbent Patrick Wemitt, running on The Village People’s Party line, and Joanne DelRossi, running on the Chatham United line. The two candidates with the highest vote totals will serve two-year terms on the board.

Incumbent Mayor Paul Boehme is running for reelection on the Village People’s Party line. He faces Tom Curran is running on the Chatham United line.

Observers say this year’s election in Chatham is more hotly – and more bitterly — contested than any contest in recent years.

The Columbia Paper has profiled all the candidates in the race concluding with Mayor Boehme this week. But because those profiles began back in January when Mr. Curran and Ms. DelRossi announced their campaigns, we follow up this week with summary profiles of candidates other than Mr. Boehme and statements by each. The profile story of Mr. Boehme appears on Page 9.

Tom Curran (Chatham United)

Born and raised in Columbia County, Mr. Curran, who is seeking his first term as mayor, owns his a machining and engraving business on Main Street in Chatham. Mr. Curran also sat on the Comprehensive Plan Committee in the late 1990s. More recently he has organized workshop meetings about the village’s Comprehensive Plan and financial planning at the Tracy Memorial.

“The thought of running for office never occurred to me until we were faced with a potential 12% tax increase in 2010. After attending many Village Board meetings over the last year, in order to feel listened to, or to make any change, I realized I would have to run for mayor. If elected, I will work to the best of my abilities, using my skills and compassion, to better serve your Village as mayor.

As mayor, I will work toward attracting new businesses to the area, and to using our resources carefully to support the businesses we already have. I will be open and receptive to any proposals that would bring people to Chatham, in support of our retail core and the arts. As a founder of Chatham Public Arts, I was heartened by the success of our first annual Public Sculpture Show along Hudson Avenue. Events such as the Columbia Film Festival and Arts Walk are already making Chatham a destination. I will be open to suggestions from the business and arts communities with the goal of bringing more people to our wonderful village.”

Lael Locke (Action Party)

Ms. Locke moved to the Village of Chatham in 1976. She has one daughter, Jennifer Lawrence, who is a graduate of Chatham High School and owns an exercise studio in the village. Ms. Locke was elected to the Village Board in 1997 after serving for three years as a community appointee to Chatham’s Comprehensive Plan Committee. She was also one of the founders of the Chatham Business Alliance and spearheaded the CBA’s 1995 drive to plant trees along Main Street.

She works part-time as a community planner with the New York Planning Federation, a statewide non-profit that helps educate planning boards and zoning boards of appeal. Her responsibilities on the Chatham Village Board include serving as Commissioner to the Fire Department and as liaison between the Village Board, the Planning Board and the ZBA.

“I believe that local officials must answer to the people who elected them, and that there needs to be an open and ongoing dialogue between government and the community it serves. As a board member, I have encouraged new ideas, listened to people’s concerns and tried to make informed and impartial decisions. I am running for reelection on my own line — the Action Party (Row B) — so that I may continue to express my views independently, as I have done in the past. Please remember that you vote for two trustee seats in this election– regardless of whom you support for mayor, I ask for your vote as a village trustee.”

Joanne DelRossi (Chatham United)

Ms. DelRossi moved to Columbia County in 1981 and has liven in the village more than 20 years. She has been a member of the management team at Coarc for the past 16 years. Ms. DelRossi served as co-chairperson of the village Zoning Board of Appeals. She also served as an active member of the Village of Chatham Master Planning Committee. For the past nine years, she has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Columbia County program of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the board of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity.

“I made the decision to run for election because I love the village and its strong sense of community.  In a time of limited financial resources and already high property taxes, I want to work to assure that the village is fiscally sustainable going into the future. Over this past year, I have attended most of the Village Board’s regular monthly meetings and am troubled by the manner in which the mayor and the Village Board conduct the village’s business, particularly the budget process, with their unwillingness to be forthcoming with concise, factual information. Certainly, village residents and taxpayers are entitled to the truth. If elected, I plan to conduct monthly workshop meetings at which residents and taxpayers can be heard and have a say in their governance and will update the village’s website to include meeting agendas, minutes and other important notices.

“At last year’s budget meetings, where taxpayer protests resulted in decreasing the mayor’s tax increase of 12% down to 4%, I suggested that the Village Board change their budgeting process by holding open meetings with the village departments along with open workshops for taxpayers. I have called for the village budget to be publicly reviewed line-by-line to identify savings and efficiencies to assure that taxpayer dollars are being spent prudently. In addition, I stand behind the belief that public safety includes police, fire and EMT services. We need to work towards a village budget that assures the viability of all.”

Patrick Wemitt (Village People’s Party)

Patrick Wemitt was born and raised in Chatham. He has served on the village board for 12 years, most of that time as the Police Department commissioner. Mr. Wemitt was a teacher at the Taconic Hills School District for 20 years and is now high school principal in the Catskill School District. He is volunteer firefighter and has coached many local sports teams.

“I believe the current Village Board and Mayor Boehme have been responsible stewards to the Village of Chatham. We may not always agree on every issue, nor should we be expected to, but decisions made are informed decisions based on community input and doing what is best for the health and vitality of the village as well its people. One thing that makes our village attractive is a community oriented local police force. As the current police commissioner, when you go to the ballot box on March 15 and cast your vote, remember, when considering the cost of public safety; cost should not be the issue; the safety of every child, woman and man should be the issue. The current trustees and Mayor Boehme would like your support on March 15, please exercise your right to vote.”

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