“I’m not running. I have been presented with a lot of personal and business opportunities in the last few years,” said Moran, citing projects related to his software-development business as an example. “Regrettably, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue those opportunities if I chose to seek a third term, which I would have expected to win.”
Prospective successors to Moran emerged almost immediately. Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum, whose first term on the Town Board expires at the end of the year, announced in a May 3 call to Woodstock Times that she would run for supervisor rather than seek another four-year term on the board.
Within minutes of Rosenblum’s call, Jeremy Wilber, who served as town supervisor from 2000 to 2007, confirmed that he would hold a press conference at 5:15 p.m. next Monday, May 9, on the Village Green to announce whether he would mount a campaign for a fifth term as supervisor after devoting the last four years to his career as a writer.
Neither Rosenblum, who has served as deputy supervisor since Moran appointed her to that position roughly 18 months ago, nor Wilber, Moran’s predecessor and a friend of the current supervisor, was expected to vie for the position if Moran opted to seek reelection.
Councilman Bill McKenna, at the midpoint of his current term on the Town Board, said that he might enter the race for supervisor if Wilber decides not to seek the post. “If Jeremy doesn’t consider running, I would most likely step forward,” said McKenna, who previously served on the board from 2004 to 2007, during Wilber’s eight-year administration.
The election will take place on November 8. Rosenblum’s decision to run for supervisor creates a vacancy on the Town Board. Councilman Jay Wenk has announced his intention to seek reelection. His current Town Board term, like Rosenblum’s, expires on December 31. Wenk previously served on the board from 1990 to 1993. Town Board members work part-time, at a current salary of $9,776. The supervisor, who functions as the town’s chief fiscal officer, works full-time, earning $48,366.
When informed of the decisions by Moran and Rosenblum and of Wilber’s deliberations, community activist Ken Panza said that he would consider running for a Town Board seat. “If Jeremy runs for supervisor, I would certainly be willing to run with him,” said Panza, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Town Board in 2005 and 2009. Panza, a frequent critic of the current administration, added that he would be less inclined to serve on a board with Rosenblum as the supervisor.
A May 3 call seeking comment from former Republican supervisor John Mower and his wife Janine Fallon Mower, a onetime Town Board candidate, was not returned.
Rosenblum, who is chair of the Woodstock Democratic Committee (WDC), said that she would seek only the Democratic Party’s nomination and, if successful, would relinquish her party post. Panza, too, is a staunch Democrat.
If he decides to run, said Wilber, he will follow his prior practice of seeking every major party’s support, a goal that Wenk, a Democrat, also will pursue. Wilber, a registered Democrat, ran, and won, unopposed, as the Democratic nominee in 2001, 2003, and 2005. As the Republican nominee in 1999, he defeated his Democratic counterpart, David Menzies. McKenna, a former Republican, is currently a member of the WDC.
Flips of a coin
In the recent interview Moran said that he had enjoyed the daily excitement and unpredictability of the job he has held since January 2008. “It is certainly a fun thing to be the supervisor of the most famous small town in the world,” he said. “It has been good for me and, I think, in many ways for the town. We have accomplished things on many fronts. The Town Board and I could accomplish many more things in a third term. Hopefully, with the cooperation of my colleagues and the support of our citizens, we will accomplish some of them in the next eight months.”
Moran quoted the supervisor of a neighboring town as telling him, “The trick in small-town politics is knowing when to get out.” Making that determination proved daunting for Moran, who said he viewed himself as a normally decisive person. Even after soliciting advice from family members, friends, and colleagues and spending an hour in consultation with a psychologist, he was unable to resolve the pressing question.
The psychologist suggested that he flip a coin. “So I spent the last few days in April flipping a quarter: heads I run, tails I don’t,” the supervisor confided. He noticed a subtle difference in his reaction to the outcome of a flip — slightly hopeful when the coin came up tails, mildly downcast when it came up heads. On April 30, despite lingering reservations, he ruled out a run.
“I think it would be best for the town if I served a third term, although that could be ego talking,” said Moran. “It’s always detrimental when an organization loses an experienced manager’s hard-won expertise. For the sake of the town, I wish I weren’t leaving in the middle of a recession. I believe that I have tried to stave off the worst of the recession, paid close attention to the town’s finances, and kept our finances relatively healthy. I have done what every elected official tries to do: keep the level of services high and the taxes low.”
The supervisor acknowledged that his tenure has not been universally popular. “There will always be opposition, especially in a countercultural town like Woodstock, where some people will always challenge the position (of supervisor) and its occupant, ” he said. “I think that town government is the most transparent form of government, but government is government and people are inclined to distrust it.”
“People often place their mistrust of federal or state government on town government, which is the most accessible form,” he continued. “That’s OK: think globally, act locally. Scrutiny of government is good. In Woodstock a handful of vocal opponents could sometimes be more civil, but it’s never wrong to question your government.”
Menzies, a frequent detractor of Moran, welcomed the supervisor’s decision not to seek reelection. “I think it’s wonderful, a good thing for the town,” he said. Wilber, in contrast, struck a sympathetic tone. “Four years; I get it. Four years is usually how long people serve in that job,” he said, adding that he stayed longer in response to urgent matters that reached a tipping point near the end of his terms. “It’s a tough job.”++