CLAVERACK–It’s a three-way race for town supervisor, and four candidates are running the two Town Board seats open in the November 5 election.
Incumbent Supervisor Robin Andrews is seeking re-election for a second four-year term on the Democratic and Claverack party lines. Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt has been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties. Ed Fertik is running on the Freedom Party line.
The two Town Board seats, each a four-year term, are being sought by incumbent Robert Preusser is seeking his 2nd term. He joins candidate Diane Boice-Yorck, both of whom are on the Democratic and Claverack Party lines. Republicans Brian Keeler and Stephen Hook are running with endorsements of the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties. Incumbent Republican board member Michael Johnston is not running for re-election.
Town Clerk Mary J. Hoose, Town Justice Charles Hoag Jr., Highway Superintendent Louis Lamont and Assessor Charles Brewer are all running unopposed for re-election in their respective positions.
What follows are profiles of the candidates in the election contests in alphabetical order by the office they seek.
Democrat Robin Andrews, 51, seeking a second four-year term on the Democratic and Claverack Party lines served as a Philmont Village trustee for three years prior to being elected supervisor. Ms. Andrews has been a budget and planning consultant for magazine publishers for the last 20 years. She has a B.S. in marketing/management from NYU School of Business.
All town and city supervisors serve as well the county Board of Supervisors, and Ms. Andrews chairs the Health & Mental Health Committee and Human Resource Committee. She is also a member of the Finance, Negotiations, Economic Development and Insurance committees and is deputy minority leader of the county board.
Ms. Andrews was the founding president of the Local Development Corporation Board for Philmont, a former chair of the Philmont Main Street Committee and an original member of the Philmont Comprehensive Plan Board.
In a candidate’s statement to the Columbia Paper, she wrote, “Four years ago, I promised to: use my budget and planning expertise for fiscal management and low taxes; increase communication and distribution of information; fight for Pine Haven; ensure the passage of the updated zoning to support economic development while maintaining our rural character and work together to find creative solutions and listening. I have been able to keep those promises, and I know there is so much opportunity to do more. I will commit the time and energy to continue pursuing these priorities and move forward, if you give me the honor of serving you again.”
Ed Fertik, a registered Republican on the Freedom Party line, recently retired from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is now a radio show host on community radio station WGXC.
Mr. Fertik has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Long Island University and a master’s degree in Human Resources from New School University. The U.S. Navy veteran was 2nd vice president of North Shore Republican Club, and also served on the Kings County Republican Committee. He has a son, who is grown.
In his statement, he wrote, “There is a three-way race for Claverack Town Supervisor, and I’m proud to be the first candidate in America to run for office using the Freedom Party banner. The two huge clubs called Republican and Democrat don’t control America or Claverack. We The People do! We need to show these two clubs that political money and massive numbers of lawn signs don’t always win elections.”
Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt
Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt, 51, the Republican candidate with endorsements from the Conservative and Independence parties is currently a member of the Town Board, a seat he’s held for 10 years. He is a part-owner of a small business.
He was in the U.S. Army, and is a life member of the Philmont Rod and Gun Club. He is also a member of the Second Reformed Church of Claverack. He has three grown daughters and two grown sons.
In his candidate statement, he wrote, “I seek the position of supervisor for the Town of Claverack only, and have no desire to seek higher political office. I wish to serve the Town of Claverack to the best of my ability and concentrate mainly on issues that pertain to the town. As supervisor, I will make myself available to all of the residents of the Town of Claverack, including the Village of Philmont, and listen to their needs, concerns and suggestions. I will work with all departments to seek ways of cutting expenses to maintain a balanced budget without continually reducing our reserve balances that are important to the financial health and stability of the town. I will not micromanage. Each and every member of the Town Board will be given all information on matters that require a vote prior to the vote so that they can render their own, educated, decision. I support the plan to construct a new Pine Haven facility. It serves the people who have been a part of our community most of their lives and is also one of the largest employers in this area.”
Diane Boice-Yorck, 57, Democrat seeking one of the two open Town Board seats running on the Democratic and Claverack Party lines, served 10 years as Ancram Town Clerk and was clerk of the Ancram Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Grievance Board and Court.
She is director of international sales at American Bio Medica Corporation and holds an associate’s degree in business administration. She is a former member of the Ancram Fire Auxiliary and a former Girl Scout leader. She and her husband, Brian, have two grown daughters and two grandchildren.
She wrote in her statement, “In these uncertain times, residents are concerned about making their dollars stretch. The town must carefully consider all spending to keep taxes in check. Promoting local business is also important to the town’s prosperity. My business background will help me balance the concerns and needs of our businesses with the rights of our citizens. I promise a common sense approach, listening to all sides. And finally, if we have learned nothing else from recent conflicts in government, we have learned that partisan politics blocks results. It has no place in town government. All sides must work together toward common goals.”
Stephen Hook, 60, running for Town board on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines is a Republican and currently serves on the Claverack Planning Board. He is a tractor trailer dispatcher for Columbia County Solid Waste.
He and his wife, Diane, have three grown daughters. He is currently a member of the Federation of Polish Sportsmen, Claverack Republican Club and Claverack Republican Committee.
He wrote in his statement, “I would work for open government to ensure citizens are aware of current issues before the Town Board by using social media. I would work with fellow board members and elected officials to petition the state for relief for the unfunded state mandates. I would work to nurture existing senior programs and help to provide assistance to those seniors that currently lack services. I would also help develop family-friendly activities and programs for our youth. I would work with local businesses to help them prosper and thrive. We need to work together, as a community, to improve our town.”
Republican Brian Keeler, 50, with endorsements from the GOP, Conservative and Independence parties for one of the two open seats on the Claverack Town Board, owns and operates a small business. He was also vice president, chief operating officer, and president of the merchandizing division of Market Force Information for eight years. He has a B.A. in communications and business.
Mr. Keeler is a 30-year member of the A.B. Shaw Fire Company, where he has served as lieutenant, captain and vice president, and is a member of the board of directors. He’s served on the Board of Directors for the Hudson Lions Club and the county Chamber of Commerce. He served on the Executive Committee of the Workforce investment Board, and as committee chairman of Shop Columbia County First. He also coached youth baseball and soccer. He and his wife Martha have a son, Sean, and a daughter, Caroline.
Mr. Keeler wrote, “If elected, I will work to control taxes by strictly monitoring the expenses of the town and explore shared services agreements with other municipalities to save the town money. I believe that the town government can do a better job of communicating with its residents by developing a team of local ambassadors throughout the town to easily and quickly disseminate information and concerns to and from residents. Finally, I will work with the town Economic Advisory Committee and the County Economic Development Corporation to retain and attract appropriate small businesses to our Town to assist in keeping taxes low.”
Robert Preusser, 60, a registered Republican running for re-election on the Democratic and Claverack Party lines, is seeking his second four-year term. He has also served as deputy supervisor for the past two years.
Mr. Preusser has an A.A.S. in Fish and wildlife technology and water management, and was a sales manager for 25 years. He spent 12 years on the St. Thomas Church Council, 15 years as presidential board chair of the Martindale Buck Club, and has served the Churchtown Fire Company in leadership roles including lieutenant, president, VP, and board chair. He and his wife, Theresa, have three grown children, Jamie, Christie and Jenna, and seven grandchildren.
Mr. Preusser wrote, “As your current Town Board member and deputy supervisor, I thank you for your support. In the past four years, I’ve seen firsthand our town’s strengths and weaknesses in dealing with current issues… In reality and commonsense, how do we accomplish these challenges? Simply by rolling up our sleeves and working together! I’m a firm believer and guided by my faith that this proactive approach of reaching out and the willingness to put partisanship aside we can meet these challenges and make the tough decisions. In the past four years, I’ve brought accountability, compassion and integrity to cost-effective solutions to achieve a win-win for our town. Even though I retain my Republican roots, I was endorsed by the Democratic and Claverack Party. I remain dedicated to serving the needs of the people. If we can’t do this first, then we’ll continue to have no solutions, only issues, just like our state and federal governments.”