Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

New Lebanon voters face many choices

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NEW LEBANON–Judging by the number of signs proliferating on local roadways, high on the list of races to be voted on Tuesday is the contest between incumbent Town Clerk Colleen Teal and challenger Cheri Lane-Smith.

Their profiles and those of the candidates in the other races this year follow in alphabetical order.

Town clerk

Cheri Lane-Smith, 34, is a graduate of Columbia-Greene Community College and SUNY Albany. She is a server at Mario’s Restaurant and the mother of three children, ages 9, 7 and 2. She told The Columbia Paper that “having lived and worked here in New Lebanon for over a decade, I have had the opportunity to meet and even serve many people here in town. I have been a proud member of this community, and I feel that this position would be something I would be very good at, as well as it would be good for me.

“I believe I would be an asset to the town by offering flexible hours that would reflect the needs of the people, consistency in the hours that are set, and providing excellent customer service,” she said.

In addition to co-managing her husband’s business, Ms. Lane-Smith cited her experience as a secretary to the Lebanon Valley Business Association, “where I did take the minutes and was responsible for the mailings and questions and concerns from members.” She also said evening town meetings will present no problem, since she has “strong support” from her husband in childcare. “I am confident I will be able to keep a schedule that will keep both the town and my family happy. This position can provide some flexibility for me as well. As far as learning to do the actual job as town clerk, I will receive training,” she said.

Colleen Teal, 48, who is running on the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines, has served as town clerk for seven and a half years. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in accounting, which she says helps her “immensely” with her duties. She is a Registered Municipal Clerk who serves as treasurer of the Columbia-Greene Town Clerks Association. She is also a member of the New York State Town Clerks Association, the New York Association of Local Government Records Officers, and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

Ms. Teal says she is known for “doing whatever it takes to improve the operations of and services provided by the town and bringing excellence, professionalism, and exceptional customer service to the office.” She cites as her accomplishments the development and maintenance of the town website, developing a summer youth program that is used by the county health department as a model; developing a dog control program that is used by state Department of Agriculture and Markets as a model; enhancing the town’s Records Management Program, including obtaining over $30,000 in grants; and modifying the town’s budget process to provide a more open process. 

Tax collector

Stacey Wallace, deputy tax collector since 2008, seeks to move up to tax collector, with Tammie Darcy also seeking the position.

Tammie Darcy, 40, is a full-time student at Berkshire Community College, maintaining a 4.0 GPA in liberal arts; she is also a part-time server/customer service person at a local restaurant. She and her husband, Michael, have two children, ages 18 and 14. The job of tax collector, she said, “is very straightforward. It requires an honest, organized, hardworking, conscientious person. I feel I am that person.” She has worked locally for many years and enjoys working with the public, she said.

Stacey Wallace, 44, is a graduate of the New Lebanon schools pursuing ongoing further education online with the Hudson Valley Community College. She and her husband, Tod, have three children, ages 23, 22 and 17. Previously the deputy town clerk, she is a member of the New York State Association of Tax Receivers & Collectors District Director for Columbia, Greene, Schoharie and Delaware Counties; a member International Institute of Municipal Clerks; member New York State Town Clerks Association, and received a Certificate of Training BAS I Tax Program in 2006. She has attended several workshops held by: New York State Association of Local Government Records Officers, State Town Clerks Association (NYSTCA) and Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA). She is a Notary Public. 

Town justice

Incumbent town Justice Shaun McHugh faces a challenge this year from Jessica Byrne, an attorney with a private practice in Pittsfield.

Jessica Byrne, 28, a Democrat with the endorsement of the Independence and Conservative parties, with the endorsement of the Independence and Conservative parties, holds a doctorate in jurisprudence and is a member of the bar associations of both New York and Massachusetts. Ms. Byrne told The Columbia Paper that she was “approached 6 years ago, and four years ago and two years ago” to run for the office, but what prompted her to run this term was a conversation she overheard between two of her colleagues, “laughing at something in the paper” about the town courts. “This is my town,” she said. “The court belongs to all of us who reside in New Lebanon; it serves as our community’s legal voice. It is the place where many consumers have their only experience with the criminal justice system.”

If elected, she said, “I intend for the court to present a unified front to the public and behind closed doors. We all need to work together for the benefit of the town.” She and her husband, Casey York, have a 2-year-old daughter. She has been a town resident for more than 20 years, she said.

Shaun McHugh, 47, a town resident for more than 15 years, was elected to the post four years ago after having served 10 years as a constable. He is running on the Republican line. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics. He and his wife of 25 years, Donna, have two sons. His community activities include coaching baseball for several leagues. He has attended “numerous continuing education classes,” more than the state requires of town justices, he said, and his court “and its cases and its trials have run smoothly.” He said he will “work hard to uphold the laws of the State of New York in an impartial and professional manner.” 

Town Board

Four candidates are contesting the race for two seats on the Town Board, K.B. Chittenden, Doug Clark, Chuck Geraldi and Monte Wasch.

K.B. Chittenden, an incumbent board member running on the Republican line, did not return the questionnaire.

Doug Clark, 54, a Democrat, is cofounder and owner with his wife, Ann, of Clark Engineering and Surveying, P. C. The couple has two daughters. Mr. Clark has a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and a master’s degree in ecological economics, values and policy. He is active in the Lebanon Valley Business Association, New Lebanon Library Board, the town Comprehensive Planning Committee, New York State Water Quality Committee and Sustainable Hudson Valley. Current issues of concern include renovation of the Town Hall, zoning law update, sidewalks along Rt. 20/22, and completion of the landfill closure.

“While specific issues will come and go, the more important question is how can we remain economically sustainable and build a better community?” he said in his statement.

“First, we need economic development to expand the commercial tax base. Otherwise residential property taxes must pick up the entire tab and will continue to rise and become increasingly unaffordable. As a business owner, I understand what it takes to start and grow a business.  We started Clark Engineering & Surveying, P.C. out of our house and built it into a company that has 14 employs and works throughout the state. Expanding and improving broadband Internet access is just one step in the right direction. The town needs to support and grow our local economy, create local jobs and reduce the trips people need to make over the mountain or across the river to go shopping. 

Current issues of concern include renovation of the Town Hall, zoning law update, sidewalks along Rt. 20/22, and completion of the landfill closure,” he said.

Chuck Geraldi, a Republican, responded to a questionnaire from The Columbia Paper that there was “no way to address the town issues in 100 words,” the limit stated on the questionnaire. Other candidates exceeded that limit and their statements have been quoted at greater length here. Mr. Geraldi said that if anyone wants to contact him they can call him or stop by his place of business, Chuck’s Automotive, 684 Route 20. The phone number is (518) 794-7053.

Monte Wasch, an incumbent board member, is the former deputy director of Economic Development and assistant director of Municipal Labor Relations for the City of New York. He is running for re-election on the Democratic line. He is on the board of the Lebanon Valley Business Association; a member of Berkshire Carousel; and has raised funds and written grants for various New Lebanon projects, including MidTown Mall and Benson farm conservancy.

Four years ago, when he ran for Town Board, he said that he promised the community that if he were entrusted with a seat on the board, he “would work hard, and work intelligently, for the town of New Lebanon.” At that time there was no cell phone service in this part of Columbia County, he said. The first thing he did when he got on the board, he said, was to “accelerate the negotiations and the approval process for a well-situated cell tower that now provides coverage for most of New Lebanon.”

Four years ago, he said, “the town’s communications with its citizens was, to say the least, spotty. Today, with my leadership, we have a well-organized and up-to-date Internet site.”

During his tenure on the board, Mr. Wasch said, “we’ve made significant progress on revamping our zoning laws to implement the town’s Comprehensive Plan; we’ve increased support to the library, one of this town’s crown jewels; we’ve moved forward to a definite plan for a new Town Hall; we helped to organize a fund for our citizens who faced hardship due to the enormous rise in fuel costs for home heating; and we cleaned up a major environmental mess at the old Bouchard property,” on Route 20. 

“I’ve participated in all of these endeavors, he said, “but there is more to be done: we have to finish Town Hall. We have to secure the old town landfill against pollution. We need to get the zoning law into place, and move to protect the unique character of New Lebanon. Finally, we have to do more about economic development: Secure housing for senior citizens in the Town center; get decent low-cost broadband access into our Town, and attract new non-polluting businesses to employ our people.”

Incumbent Town Supervisor Meg Robertson and Highway Superintendent Jeff Winestock are running unopposed. 

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