“I believe I have a shared vision, a plan to keep New Paltz livable and affordable for the future,” Zimet explained at the caucus. In getting the endorsement to, in effect, get her old job back, the Ulster County legislator will have to withdraw as New Paltz’s Democratic candidate for her county seat.
That didn’t seem to bother Zimet, who said that she thought she could best serve the community again as town supervisor.
“In the decade that has passed, expenses have spiraled out of control,” she said. “We need strong capable leadership to make this happen. We can’t protect our turf.”
The new Democratic candidate for supervisor said she’d work to keep living in town affordable, and she said she’d look for state, county and federal grant funding to offset local taxes.
Zimet criticized her opponent, the incumbent Toni Hokanson, for the way financing has played out at Town Hall under her leadership. “The Town Board must be informed and know where every penny goes.”
At the caucus, Zimet got 167 votes to Hokanson’s 56.
In terms of the Town Board race, former Village Board member Jean Gallucci got 162 votes and lawyer Kevin Barry got 148 votes. One surprise candidate, Randall Leverette, who is a Republican and currently sits on the New Paltz Police Commission, got 81 votes.
In an unusual change of pace, the town superintendent of highways made for an interesting race this year at the Democratic Caucus. Four men ran against each other for the left’s approval.
Newcomer Joe Lecesse got six votes. Former Highway Superintendent Phil Johnson got 64 votes.
Johnson was ousted two years ago by Mike Nielson during an upset. Nielson, who has decided not to run again, endorsed Chris Marx, who won a Democratic endorsement with 97 votes. Another newcomer, Steve Takacs, got 54 votes.
Former Deputy Mayor Gallucci joked about her second run for office this year -- she’d run unsuccessfully against Jason West in the village election as a mayoral candidate.
“In a lot of ways, I can’t believe I’m doing this again,” she joked. However, the Democrats’ pick for Town Board member has 13 years in public service at town and village in the town clerk’s office, the village clerk’s office and as an elected Village Board member.
“I’ve made it a commitment that I’ve really been devoted to this community,” she added.
Like Zimet, Gallucci said she’d work hard to try to keep taxes down, saying that “what I hear the most is about the high taxes, high taxes, high taxes.”
The former deputy mayor, the promise of low taxes doesn’t necessarily mean reducing services. “We need to look at our budgets and find a way to do things in a creative manner.”
Kevin Barry made a name for himself as a staunch opponent of the New Paltz Middle School renovation plan. Along with the rest of his slate for Town Board, Barry also wanted to keep costs under control.
“I have a stake in this community, I love this community, but I may not be able to afford to live here anymore,” he said.
Two other local positions were voted on at the local caucus this week as well -- Deputy Town Clerk Rosanna Mazzaccari is the new pick for town clerk, and town justice James Bacon will seek re-election with the Democratic Party’s blessing.
New Paltz’s Democratic Caucus has the weight of and significance of a primary election. Whoever won on Tuesday will appear on the ballot as the Democratic candidate in November.
Local Republicans will gather on Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at the New Paltz Community Center, to hold their caucus. Incumbent Toni Hokanson, a Democrat running as an independent candidate, has stated she’d like to seek the Republican endorsement at that event.
Hokanson, unlike Zimet, is not running with a slate of Town Board candidates.