Ancram has single race

ANCRAM—Roadside political candidate signs in town seem sparse compared to years past. That may be because the only race at the town level this election season is for two seats on the Town Board.

Three candidates are in the running for those posts: Republican Arnold “Arnie” Anderson; Democrat Madeleine Israel and Republican Chris Thomas. Ms. Israel and Mr. Thomas are incumbents. The two candidates with the most votes win the seats.

Town Supervisor Art Bassin, a Democrat, is seeking re-election this November to his third two-year term, without opposition.

For the first time Ancram voters will also be asked to approve an annual town contribution of $30,000 to the Roeliff Jansen Community Library’s operating budget. The money would be raised through property taxes. Copake and Hillsdale already support the library in this manner and will be asked to increase their contributions this year: Copake to $55,000 from $37,000 and Hillsdale to $42,500 from $24,000.

Also on the ballot are six proposed amendments to the New York State Constitution relating to everything from the authorization of casino gaming to allowing mining in the state forest preserve.

Based on where they live in town, Ancram voters cast their ballots at the Ancram Town Hall, 1416 County Route 7 or the Ancramdale Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 15 County Route 8, Ancramdale, November 5 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Following are profiles in alphabetical order of the candidates based on information they provided in a questionnaire from The Columbia Paper. Mr. Thomas did not supply any information.

Town Board (two seats)

Arnold “Arnie” Anderson of Ancramdale seeks his first four-year term on the Town Board. He is an enrolled Republican who has his party’s endorsement.

Born in Norwich, CT, Mr. Anderson is a retired tractor trailer truck driver. He attended Webutuck High School and Columbia-Greene Community College and took courses while serving in the U.S. Army. He enlisted in 1968 and served in Vietnam in 1969 attached to the 101st Airborne at Camp Eagle. He took his NCO training at Fort Bragg, NC, and was stationed in Mannheim, Germany in 1970.

Mr. Anderson is currently a member of the Columbia County Honor-A-Vet Committee; was a former member of Columbia County World War II and Armed Services Committee (until it was closed); and currently serves as an officer at different levels in veteran organizations. He is a member of the Community Rescue Squad, was a First Aid, CPR and First Responder instructor and was an assistant Columbia County EMT instructor.

He and his wife, Helen, are the parents of three grown children: Melissa Anderson of Auburndale, Florida; Arnold (Arnie) Anderson, Jr., of Ancram and Bobbie-Jo Scutt of Ancramdale.

Mr. Anderson declined to write a statement of issues.

Democrat Madeleine Israel, 72, of Ancramdale has served on the Town Board since January 2010. She seeks her second four-year term and she is endorsed by her party.

Born in New York City, she earned her BA in American literature at Brooklyn College. She is retired from the Development Office at Camphill Village Copake, where she worked for 17 years. Ms. Israel previously served on the Town Planning Board for three years; volunteers at the Roe Jan Community Library; is a previous member of Rhoda Lake Community (RLC) Executive Board; and is chair of RLC Lake Committee.

She and her late husband, Paul Israel, have two grown children.

In her statement of issues, Ms. Israel wrote: “I have worked with the other members of the Ancram Town Board to keep town taxes flat. Hopefully, we will complete the new zoning law in the next year. It is a huge step toward protecting the town’s scenic beauty, agricultural land, and historic resources. I am proud to live in Ancram, and hope to be able to continue to serve this community.”

Though Republican Chris Thomas declined to provide information, he was elected four years ago and is running for a second term.

Town Supervisor

Incumbent Town Supervisor Art Bassin, 69, of Ancramdale is a Democrat who has his party’s endorsement and is cross-endorsed by Republicans. He has served the town as supervisor for four years and will to continue in that capacity for another two-year term.

He was born in Brooklyn and was educated at Exeter, Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

His employment history includes Citibank from 1969 to 1983; Dime from 1983 to 1992; Columbia Consulting Group from 1992 to 1994 and TV Data Technologies from 1994 to 2002.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1972 as an ROTC cadet, artillery officer and in the Army Reserves.

He and his wife, Sue, own and operate Cricket Hill Farm, a horse farm on Snyder Road.

“Ancram has a Town Board that works well together, and believes in strong financial management and flat taxes,” Mr. Bassin wrote in his statement of issues. “We have enjoyed four years of flat taxes and growing financial reserves, even while we have been able to build a new garage and salt shed, invest in our roads and in newer highway equipment. Over the past few years the Town has dealt with barking dog and wind turbine noise complaints, while we developed an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, continued work on revising our zoning laws to bring them into alignment with our 2010 Comprehensive Plan fixed the 82-7 intersection and continued development of our heritage resources and natural resources plans. Everyone in town seems pleased with our Ancram email communications process and our Community newsletters which go out every two or three months. And we are especially proud of all our volunteer firefighters and our new firehouse, and of all the other community volunteers who make Ancram a great place to live and work.

“Over the next few years we plan to maintain our financial discipline, keep town taxes flat, finish revising our zoning laws and continue working to implement the Comprehensive Plan through the continued development of our agricultural, natural and heritage resources plans.”

Mr. Bassin, who also serves on the County Board of Supervisors, believes that board needs to focus on seven major issues in the coming years:

*Improving the County’s financial management and reporting processes, at all management levels and across all departments

*Improving communications with supervisors, managers, employees, the unions and county residents about all issues and all the options facing the county

*Developing a consensus about whether we should build a new Pine Haven Nursing Home, or whether we should to explore privatizing it

*Developing a consensus about what to do with the County Airport

*Deciding whether to expand or privatize the County solid waste department

*Implementing better management control processes across all county department, including setting annual financial, quality and service goals for managers and supervisors and tracking results, doing annual manager and supervisor performance assessments, and figuring out how to reward exceptional performers with exceptional financial and non-financial recognition

*Developing a County Comprehensive Plan, which would “integrate” the existing Comp Plans of each town in the County and the City of Hudson, with a County Overview outlining the county’s long term vision for what kind of county we want to be in 10 or 20 years.

To contact Diane Valden email .


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