Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard




Paper lacked analysis on Ghent election

To the Editor:

We are fortunate to have a hometown paper that covers our local races closely, so I was particularly eager to read the front page article “Two vie for top job in Ghent” (Columbia Paper, October 14, 2021). The article was correct in reporting that two candidates are running to be Ghent Supervisor, but what the article achieved in its objectivity it lacked in analysis of the candidates.

While on the surface it may appear that they are similarly qualified, Mallory Mort, running on the Democratic, Working Families and Ghent United parties, is better prepared to assume leadership immediately. He has been on the Town Board for two terms and is a member of the County Planning Board. Mr. Mort has been a leader on the Climate Smart Committee, a particularly important role as we face Climate Change. He has assisted in preparing the town budget multiple times and has brought substantial grants to the Town for Broadband extension and climate smart initiatives. He has the experience of successfully negotiating two union contracts with Town workers. Most importantly, he is forward thinking while being protective of our beautiful area and natural resources.

Ghent and Columbia County will continue to face multiple challenges in the years ahead. We need good paying jobs and affordable housing, services for seniors and child care options, among numerous other necessities. How we face these issues will determine the quality of life that we want to enjoy in this beautiful area. Mr. Mort’s opponent is quoted as saying “Building community will keep Ghent the way we all know and love.” Ghent is already a wonderful community, but it is not enough to keep Ghent as it is. Regrettably, too many cannot access housing or other services in our Town. We must respond to existing challenges and help the Town progress responsibly. Mr. Mort has indicated that we can continue to improve our Town, such as building out infrastructure, with very little impact on taxpayers. We can be confident that Mallory Mort will lead Ghent into a future that reflects his experience, knowledge and priorities. He is ready on Day One to be Ghent Town Supervisor.

Brenda Gevertz


They back Rick Werwaiss, a neighbor, for Town Board

To the Editor:

Rick Werwaiss has been a good neighbor of ours and an active member of our community for well over twenty years. Until recently, he lived just a few houses down the street from us. We know him as a fully devoted and nurturing father of his two daughters, Abby and Willa, and as a dedicated community builder – the first person to reach out and welcome each new resident who has moved into our hamlet. In his role as president of the North Chatham Free Library, for twenty-five years, he has shown that he is an astute, practical problem-solver and visionary ­– able to see what’s possible for organizations and find ways to fulfill important goals. These qualities and his professional background and skills, particularly in nonprofit management, will serve him well on the Chatham Town Board.

One area of particular importance for our rural community is Rick’s knowledge and love of nature and the environment. He is dedicated to conservation and sustainable agriculture and worked for thirty years with organizations including the National Audubon Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and American Farmland Trust, among others. Locally as a committee volunteer, he helped to bring the Keep Farming program to Chatham, which led to the Chatham Ag Partnership.

Local voters should know that in every aspect of life, Rick takes his responsibilities seriously. He has outlined very clear goals for his dream for the Town of Chatham – among them, affordable housing, broadband connectivity, and an open space plan to guide future development. We know he will involve and work in sync with the wider community in the planning process because this is what he always does.

We enthusiastically ask you to Vote for Rick Werwaiss for the Chatham Town Board.

Julie Kabat, Wayne Shelton

North Chatham

Former councilwoman endorses current Claverack candidates

To the Editor:

As a lifelong resident of Claverack, a former councilwoman, and a business owner I’m writing to endorse Kippy Wiegelt for town supervisor and the Claverack Republican Team. I know firsthand their commitment and dedication to our town.

I thank Doug Colwell for running for town councilman. Doug’s background in education, years in law enforcement and his willingness to continue to serve his community will be an asset to our town.

As the new Town Hall moves forward the Claverack Republican Team is making sure that SMART principles and energy efficiency are guiding the project. They understand sustainability and fiscal responsibility and continue to research grant funding opportunities to offset cost to the taxpayer when possible

It’s easy to make promises but attending an occasional town board meeting and working in the private sector doesn’t guarantee or qualify an ability to run a town. Claverack needs experienced, knowledgeable leaders. Leaders that understand what measures must be taken to improve quality of life, provide for our elderly, work with developers to provide affordable housing, and value local businesses.

As we continue to move through uncertain times its more important than ever that we consider experience and stability when we cast our vote.

Maryanne Lee


Simmons has traits this voter wants in supervisor

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to endorse Craig Simmons for Ghent town supervisor. I have worked closely with Craig the last five years on the Chatham High School Robotics Team and know him as a friend, colleague, and mentor. When Robotics encountered mechanical difficulties, he volunteered, got right to work, and helped us get to the competition. And he has been with us ever since, teaching, helping, and inspiring the team to problem solve and learn new things. He genuinely cares about the school and the students which is evident in so many ways. When he sees something that needs to be done–he does it. Because he cares.

Craig is an extremely hard worker and strives to ensure that his work is done well. He is caring and level headed even in tense situations. He is so knowledgeable about the land and understands the struggles that many face both socially and economically. He has held leadership positions and carried them out both in a professional and effective manner. He understands the politics of local governments and how to navigate effectively within them. And he is honest. All of these traits: hard working, caring, intelligent, place-based knowledge, professionalism, leadership skills, volunteerism, political experience, and love of community are all traits that I would want in a supervisor candidate.

A vote for Craig Simmons is a vote for honesty, hard work, and true leadership.

Sandra Fischer

Chatham HS Science Teacher and Robotics Coach

There’s more to her support that family ties

To the Editor:

Election day is coming. I live in Valatie so I can’t vote in the Ghent election, but if I could, Carl Quinn would have my vote.

Yes, Carl is my brother but that’s not why I would vote for him. Carl Quinn has always been community-oriented. From as far back as I can remember, there was some cause he was rallying to help out with. As a pre-teen he participated in a bike-a-thon to raise money for MS, he volunteered to train a german shepherd puppy to be a service dog while he was a 4-H member and participated in SADD events throughout high school. Carl has always been eager to lend a helping hand.

As an adult, he’s helped numerous members of our community by establishing a charity, Our Community Cares, that remains active locally even today. We grew up in Austerlitz. He then purchased his home 21 years ago in Ghent, where he resides today. His service record is impeccable. He cares, he’s local, and he’s not afraid to fight for his fellow community members. He stands firm in his beliefs and convictions and isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions even if it means standing alone. Carl Quinn should get your vote on November 2 for Ghent Town Board.

Cathy Leonard


2 Ghent councilmembers endorse Dems’ slate

To the Editor:

We are writing to enthusiastically endorse Mallory Mort for Supervisor and Carl Quinn and Laurie Johnson for Town Council. These candidates have been endorsed by the Democratic, Ghent United, and Working Families Parties.

Mallory, Carl, and Laurie have each contributed so much to this community and stand ready to continue to serve all the residents of Ghent.

Mallory Mort has served on the Ghent Town Board for two terms, since 2013. During his time on the Board, Mallory has spearheaded Ghent’s efforts to become a Climate Smart Community, and has secured grants to install solar panels on the Highway Garage and the electric car charging station in town. He is also a member of the Columbia County Ag and Farmland Protection Board, a board member of Protect Ghent, and a member of the Columbia County Planning Board. In addition to his work on the Town Board, Mallory has been the manager of Gallagher’s Stud Farm in Ghent for forty-two years. He has deep experience with the Town budget, negotiating contracts for the Town, and grant applications and administration. Mallory is dedicated to this Town and will serve us well as the town’s representative as supervisor at the county level.

Carl Quinn is a Columbia County native who has lived in Ghent since 2000. He has been a community leader committed to making a difference. He is a past member of the Board of Trustees of the Austerlitz Historical Society. In 2013, he co-founded Our Community Cares, a non-profit that provides financial and emotional support to residents of Columbia County facing a hardship in their lives. In 2016, he co-founded Columbia Pathways to Recovery, an addiction recovery organization. He now serves as the Program Director of Greener Pathways, a program of Twin County Recovery Services, and is a member of the Columbia County Community Services Board, Subcommittee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Laurie Johnson is a lifelong Ghent resident whose family has lived here for four generations. Following many years at Ginsberg’s Food Service, she turned to work as a community-based consultant and advocate serving Ghent and Chatham’s aging and other vulnerable populations. She is an end-of-life doula and aging-in-place advocate, the Town’s liaison to the Columbia County Office of the Aging, and a member of the Office of the Aging Advisory Council. In past years, she served on the Board of Directors of Special Needs Inc. and volunteered as a parent advocate for special ed for Brookwood Secure Center. She is running to give a voice to the invisible and underserved in our town.

These three candidates want to preserve the beautiful, rural environment of Ghent, help stop climate change, foster a peaceful and positive community spirit, and support sensitive, smart development projects for the Town. They will work to improve public transportation options, support our local farms, help neighbors in need, ensure inclusiveness in our community, and provide broadband for all. These are good people who will do good work for Ghent!

We hope you will join us in supporting this great ticket on Election Day, November 2nd!

Patti Matheney,

Ghent Town councilmember

Koethi Zan

Ghent Town councilmember

Clerk candidate urges public to restore decency

To the Editor:

As a candidate Claverack town clerk meeting prospective voters from every walk of life and political stripe I’ve heard something again and again: People are tired. And why? Pandemic? Well, sure, it’s been tough but Claverack residents are resilient. This election? Maybe, but this isn’t the first one Claverack residents have had to endure. No, what everyone is tired of is a lack of decency. To me, when people talk about wanting to go back to the olden days what they’re really saying is, “Hey, remember when people were polite? Remember “service with a smile”? Remember cherishing the idea of brightening somebody else’s day?” Though we may all agree how much good has come over the last few generations with better rights for everyone and better technology and better everything else under the sun it is decency that has evaporated.

Somewhere along the way it disappeared into a mirage of complacency. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can turn a corner by simply taking an extra moment to consider how we treat another person. Because with decency maybe trust can begin where there had been none. And as your town clerk it will be my first duty to treat everyone equally with decency and a smile. Because I cannot be partisan and because all residents of Claverack are worth it. And however you vote on November 2, just please remember we can find decency again. It’s right there in all of us.

Nathaniel Drake

Candidate for Claverack town clerk


He faults Art Omi Pavilions plan in Chatham

To the Editor:

What’s the rush?

Sadly, the more I learn, the more I am losing respect for Art Omi & the Town of Chatham Planning Board.

Most everyone I talk to is unaware, or misinformed, about the facts of the proposed Art Omi Pavilions @ Chatham seeking a Special Use Permit on rural agricultural land. And no wonder. Required public notifications & access have been minimal & marginalized—if in fact met. My colleagues & I had difficulty accessing public records.

While reviewing site plans at Town Hall, we were informed by the clerk that revised site plans had just arrived, and would not be available until after the Public Hearing. Plans still do not account for existing wetland.

As extensive as the proposal is, there is not a single drawing of any of the proposed 18-20 buildings up to 5700 sq ft, and 35 ft tall—all appearing as rectangles on the site plan along the ridge line—that will be visible from all the places that can be seen from them. Incredible views indeed! Who is to say in the end this will not resemble a gated community—there will be a security gate at the 20’-wide entrance on Rt. 66—of clustered grandiose McMansions atop the hill?

Francis Greenburger’s White Paper is now available on the Town of Chatham Planning Board website. I find the document remarkable in a number of ways:

• Paragraph #1 describes the project as an “art center” begging the question: Why is the Planning Board of the Town of Chatham considering a Special Use Permit for a “recreational facility”? Linda Laurange & others offer important observations—their presentations are worth reading, and are a matter of public record. My request to have the three written presentations received by the board chair, Gabriella Sperry, posted to the website, was denied.

• Paragraph #2 makes plain how open-ended & amorphous this project is. Gabriella Sperry referred me the “compliance narritive” (not my misspelling) posted on the website without attribution, which she told me is from the “applicant.” It is not worth reading. Except perhaps to note the threat of a worse, and more inaccurate proposal.

• Paragraph #3 provides more information, again begging the question: Is this a recreational or a cultural arts facility?”

• Paragraph #4 speaks of establishing a ‘green belt’ that already exists and will be diminished… Further going on to diminish & gloss over the effect of so many buildings sited on the ridge line that will be visible from so many places.

• The applicant, Francis Greenburger, presumes to speak for “The Chatham Planning Board” which speaks volumes… He writes: “The Chatham Planning Board is anxious to hear your opinion on this important project.” In fact the board interrupted several of the initial speakers… I have a recording of the last two public meetings… And what they seem anxious about is getting this plan rubber stamped without adequate specification or review.

The rest of my responses to the White Paper will be a matter of public record—givenmy experience you will have trouble gaining access, unless you make plain you intend to pursue remedies…I find myself turning against this project, when all I was trying to do was help improve its prospect.

Please attend the Public Meeting on November 9.

Bob Johnson


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