In off year, town posts still attract candidates

Copake voters will choose justice, two board members in Nov. 5 contests
COPAKE—In this off-year election, voters can’t change the situation in Washington at the polls this November 5, but they do have a say in the make-up of their local government.

In Copake, voters will choose between two candidates for town Justice. Incumbent Justice Brian Herman, a Democrat, is running to retain the post he has held for the past eight years. He faces off against Glenn Schermerhorn, a longtime physical education teacher, who has no party affiliation, but has three party endorsements.

Three candidates are in the running for two seats on the Town Board. They are Matt Cain, Jeanne Mettler and David Paciencia. Councilperson Mettler is the only incumbent, running for the seat she has held since April 2012, when she was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Councilman Bob Sacks, who moved out of town. Ms. Mettler, a Democrat, was elected last November to fill the balance (one year) remaining in the term. The other available board seat is currently occupied by Democratic Councilperson Linda Gabaccia, who is not seeking re-election.

The two candidates who receive the most votes will be elected.

Following are candidate profiles in alphabetical order for each post.

Town Justice

Attorney Brian J. Herman, 55, seeks his third four-year term as town justice. He is a Democrat endorsed by his party and the Working Families party. He has had a law office on Warren Street in Hudson since 1984 and is also the president and principal broker at Hudson Town & County Realty, Ltd., and president of Park Falafel and Pizza Inc.
Born in Queens, Mr. Herman and his wife, Barbra, have owned a home in Copake since 1994 and relocated there fulltime in 2000. The couple has a daughter, Shannon, 16, a junior at Taconic Hills.
Mr. Herman earned a BS degree at Queens College in 1980 and his juris doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1984. “I have worked very hard to build my law practice and businesses, and I am proud to say that I have been able to create many… good paying jobs for the people of our community,” Mr. Herman said on his candidate questionnaire. Mr. Herman has acted as pro bono legal counsel for the Copake Community Chest, the Copake Grange, the Copake Local Development Corporation and the Hudson Interfaith Counsel.
In his statement of issues, Mr. Herman wrote: “Copake deserves a qualified, fair and experienced judge. Copake Town Court is a first level trial court and is Copake’s link to the New York judicial system. Many of us will have our first and only court experience in a town court.
“Since everyone faces the possibility of appearing in town court as either a litigant or witness… each of us has a direct personal interest in keeping a judge who can be trusted to be honest and impartial and who is knowledgeable and experienced in the law. Copake also deserves a judge who is open-minded, possesses patience, acts with genuine humanistic concern, and who is sensitive to the day-to-day challenges that ordinary citizens face in today’s world. I have strove and aspired to exercise these qualities as our judge. I thank the people of Copake for allowing me to be their judge for the past eight years, and I respectfully ask that I be permitted to serve four more years.”

Endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties, Glenn Schermerhorn, 67, is seeking his first four-year term as town justice. He has no party enrollment.
Born and raised in Columbia County, he earned his BS degree from Springfield College in 1968.
Mr. Schermerhon was a physical educator at Taconic Hills High School for 34 years. He was also the athletic director, a coach and the director of the Summer Enrichment Program. 
Now retired, he currently serves on the Taconic Hills Board of Education. 
Mr. Schermerhorn and his wife, Cynthia, have four children: Kyle, Shandra, Alison and Grayson.
“I am a retired educator attempting to give service to my community. I will work to transfer and apply my educational training in conflict resolution to impartially enact judicial decisions. Thus, enforcing the law in a fair and assertive manner,” Mr. Schermerhorn said in his candidate statement.

Town Board (two seats)
A self-employed financial advisor Matt Cain, 57, is in the running for one of two seats on the Town Board. Each carries a four-year term. An enrolled Democrat who is endorsed by his party, Mr. Cain is a former math science and computer skills teacher and a retired certified public accountant.
Born in White Plains, he holds a BA degree in business administration from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in education from the University of Miami.
Mr. Cain is a member of the Copake Grange, a former Camphill Village board member, and a volunteer with the Copake Community Service Corp., who has worked on the Town Memorial Clock restoration/maintenance and hamlet holiday tree projects.
He and his wife, Ingrid, live in the Copake hamlet.
“As a Copake resident for over 17 years, I understand the unique challenges and opportunities that face our town. I have an active interest in working towards making our community an even better place to live and promise to bring dedication and professionalism to my service as a member of the Town Board. I pledge to reach out to hear all citizens’ comments and concerns, and to address those concerns in a timely and responsible manner. Thank you for your support,” he said in his statement of issues.

Councilperson Jeanne E. Mettler, 61, is a registered Democrat, endorsed by her party and the Republican, Working Families, Independence and Conservative parties in her run to hold on to the Town Board seat she has held for the past year and a half. This would be her first full four-year term.
Born in Great Barrington, MA, she graduated from Roeliff Jansen Central School in 1970 and earned her BA degree from Marymount College in 1974; her JD degree from the Rutgers School of Law in 1977; and her MST degree from Fordham University Graduate School of Education in 2004.
She is a retired attorney and certified social studies teacher, who substitutes at the Taconic Hills Central School.
Ms. Mettler has served on the Copake Community Service, Inc. board of directors since January 2012; has been co-chair with Dr. George Beneke of the Copake Spur Committee since January 2012; has served on the Roeliff Jansen Community Library nominating committee since 2011; is a member of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association and the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society.
She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1978; 1995, appointed by the New York State Capital Defender as member of the Capital Screening Panel for the Second Judicial Department; 1996, was the first woman appointed president of New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; 2005, won the Teacher of the Year Award at Harry S. Truman High School, Bronx.
She is married to Patricia A. Placona.
In her statement of issues, Ms. Mettler said, “I was chair of the Copake Comprehensive Plan Committee 2008-2011. It has been my goal on the Town Board to implement the Comprehensive Plan. I helped organize the Roe Jan Ramble Bike Tour as part of the effort to make Copake a biking destination. I urged the creation of the Copake Hamlet Revitalization Task Force. I am a liaison to that committee and to the Farmland Protection Committee. The work of both of these two committees is vital to Copake’s future. For the past 18 months I have always tried to recognize and pursue what is in the best interests of Copake.” 

Former Taconic Hills School District Superintendent David A. Paciencia, 63, is a registered Republican seeking a four-year term on the Town Board. He is endorsed by the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties. Though he has not held a local political office, he was elected president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, a statewide election.
Born in Syracuse, Mr. Paciencia’s hometown was Baldwinsville. He earned his master’s degree and doctoral program with a major in educational administration at Syracuse University and his BA degree from State University at Potsdam.
He retired as Taconic Hills Central School District superintendent in 2007 after six years and is presently an educational consultant.
He is a former board member of Taconic Hills Dollars for Scholars, former board member for the Columbia-Hudson Partnership, and a member of Our Lady of Hope (Catholic Parish) in Copake Falls.
He served for 35 years as a math/computer science teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, high school principal, superintendent in four school districts over 22 years. After retirement he became an educational consultant, interim principal and interim superintendent for several school districts including the Hudson City School District. He served as the statewide ethics chairman for all public school superintendents; earned a 22-0 budget passage record as a superintendent; served on the New York State Commissioner of Education Advisory Council and has a long list of awards and medals for excellence as an educator and distinguished service.
He and his wife of 41 years, Nancy have three grown children: Captain Todd Paciencia (USAF), 31; Mrs. Keri Stedman, 34; Mrs. Susan Gaiser, 36; and four grandchildren.
“For many years as your school superintendent, you trusted me with your greatest family treasure–your children and grandchildren, and you trusted me with your tax dollars–and you always received a healthy fund balance, healthy reserves and ‘clean audits,’ every year.
“As your councilman, I will once again provide you with positive leadership, accept accountability and responsibility for all of my decisions, attack issues and not citizens, serve you with continued honesty, not political spin, base my decisions on a sense of fairness and logic, strive to attract local business and to revitalize our business district, actively support our local farming community, and serve you as a positive role model for our youth,” Mr. Paciencia said in his statement of issues.

The election is Tuesday, November 5, with polls open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check with the Columbia County Board of Elections at 401  State Street, Hudson, 518 828-3115 or www.columbiacountyny.com/depts/elections/index.html if you do not know where to vote or need an absentee ballot.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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