Control of board at stake in Chatham

CHATHAM–A full slate of candidates is running for Chatham supervisor and Town Board seats this November. Current Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt is seeking reelection and is challenged by Town Board member Maria Lull, who will have to give up her seat if elected.

Making the race a bit more complex, Ms. Lull, a Republican, has been endorsed by the Democrats. Mr. DeGroodt, who dropped his Democratic Party enrollment several years ago and is a registered voter with no party affiliation, defeated Ms. Lull at the town GOP caucus and has the Republican line.

Councilman Bob Balcom is seeking reelection and is running with Landra Haber on the Democratic ticket for Town Board. Julie Veronezi and Jeanette Linville are the Republican candidates for the Town Board.

Incumbent Town Justices James Borgia-Forster and Jason Shaw are running unopposed.

Candidate backgrounds and statements appear below in alphabetical order.

Town supervisor

Jesse DeGroodt, 57, is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines for another four-year term as town supervisor. He was supervisor from 1996 to 1999 and was elected again in 2004 and has served in the post since then. Born in Hudson, Mr. DeGroodt is a graduate of Chatham High School and Utica College of Syracuse with a B.A. in political science.

He currently works as a marking representative for the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham and is a feature writer for The Chatham Press.

In his candidate statement, Mr. DeGroodt wrote: “Vastly improved broadband access that is reliable and affordable for all, is critical for both our small business committee and the lives of students. On both the town and county level, we are well on the road to the development of a plan, with which I have been highly active, that will allow us to achieve the reality of first class broadband access. Highway infrastructure, recreation, and overall costs vs. efficiency. We also continue with grant-seeking efforts and discussions with the Village of Chatham over ideas that have the potential to save money for both municipalities. Instead of building walls, we need to examine opportunities, in particular for the growth of youth. For too many years Chatham has been a great place to grow up, yet offers few opportunities for those who might choose to remain and raise a family. Improved broadband access is one way to assure a more youthful, vibrant future for our community.”

Maria Lull is running for supervisor on the Democratic, Conserve Chatham Now and Chatham First lines on the November ballot. She is a registered Republican who has been a Town Board member since 2010. She was deputy chair of the town’s Planning Board for 14 years and deputy chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Capital Improvements. As a Town Board member she has been on the Crellin Park Building Committee, the Broadband Committee and Agricultural Partnership Committee. Ms. Lull did not include her birth date in her candidate questionnaire.

Ms. Lull was born in Brooklyn and is a graduate SUNY Empire State Collage and Pace College and holds a B.S. in Business, Management and Economics. She is a licensed real estate broker in both New York and Massachusetts. Ms. Lull is currently the owner of Schoenfeld French & Lull Real Estate in Chatham Center.

In her candidate statement, she writes: “It is time for new leadership in Chatham with a clear vision for the role that our government should play in maintaining the character of our community as we encourage new development, adapt to changes and address the needs of our residents. I will be an active, energetic, forward-looking leader and will reach out to all residents and help us find common ground and develop the smartest and most cost-effective solutions to the challenges faced by own town government. Current town leaders have fostered an atmosphere of divisiveness among town residents. Many Chatham residents care deeply about our community and those who live and work here, and town government should encourage and welcome their participation at every level.”

She also wrote about “fiscal impacts on Chatham taxpayers should be carefully considered before the town takes any action or makes any decision” and “town government should operate with transparency and accountability at all times.”

Town Board

Robert “Bob” Balcom, 60, is running for reelection on the Democratic and Chatham First lines. He is a registered Democrat who has serviced on board for eight years (two terms). Mr. Balcom was the interim president of the Association of Chatham Democrats. He was also the co-founder of the Greenbush Soccer Club and was named in the Who’s Who Among American Teachers in 1994.

Born in Albany, he has an A.S in Math and Science from Hudson Valley Community College, a B.A in Biology, a teaching certification from Siena College and a M.S. in Secondary Education and Biology from the College of Saint Rose. He is retired.

His candidate statement reads: “I am running for my third term as a member of the Chatham Town Board. I bring good ideas and a deliberate nature to the team. In my second term I pushed for the development of the Citizens Finance Committee, video recording of town board meetings, increased, timely posting of information on the town website, and have worked to create fair, accountable budgets that carefully spend taxpayer money. Should I be re-elected, I look forward to receiving the long awaited update to the town code and finally implement the comprehensive plan. I will work diligently with the board to resolve the East Chatham bridge and Tracy Memorial (Town Court). I will continue to push for a 5 year fiscal plan to create sustainable budgets. A citizen told me that I’m the voice of reason on the town board. I hope to continue to live up to that compliment.”

Landra Haber is running for the Town Board on the Democratic and Chatham First lines. She served on the Ichabod Crane Board of Education from 1996 to 2000. On that board she was the parliamentarian as well as a member of the Policy, Labor Negotiations and Communications committees. She is a registered Democrat. Ms. Haber did not include her birth date in her candidate questionnaire.

Ms. Haber grew up in California and Illinois, and attended the University of Michigan before moving to New York City. She moved to Chatham 23 years ago, and has been president of the Chatham Democrats, a trustee on the Valatie Free Library Board, and a member of the North Chatham Library Adult Planning Committee. She is currently retired but worked for many years in the nonprofit and education fields.

Her candidate statement reads: “The Town of Chatham needs proper long-term planning and budgeting that will anticipate future needs and thus avoid crises and surprises. Our town government needs to make decisions in public. We need an open and transparent bidding, hiring, and appointing process. The Town Board engages in on-going conversations with the community about our priorities and decisions. This requires that the public be well-informed in a timely manner about any issues that are facing the Town. The town And village would be best served by collaborating to streamline services in the Tracy (the Village Hall). More efficient government is less costly government for all of us. These are crucial issues. The current town leadership has shown no evidence of making any of these a priority. I urge you to vote for me and my running mates–Maria Lull (supervisor) and Bob Balcom (Town Board).”

Jeanette Linville, 72, is running on the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines for Town Board. She is a registered Republican. She was president of the New Lebanon School District Board of Education. She is a volunteer at the Tri-Village Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary and the Shaker Museum, as well as the Columbia County Council on the Arts.

Born in New York City, Ms. Linville attended Wilson College and NYU. She worked as a book editor in New York City and for Book Creations in Canaan. She is currently president of Globus Company, a third-party logistics company specializing in international transportation of collector and show automobiles.

Here candidate profile reads: “During my 35 years here, I have enjoyed raising my sons with my husband in Chatham as well as contributing to the well-being of my friends and neighbors in the community. Town government is ever-evolving and several issues are already being address in an open bi-partisan way: revising the zoning code, reviewing needed improvements to the town court and stimulating economic development. The core obligation of government is to provide services while insuring that government remains small and responsive to the needs of all residents. Chatham needs to expand public safety, youth and senior services. I would seek grants to expand these services as well as to offset town expenses. Chatham is credited as being the best managed town in Columbia County. Our residents can count on open government, accessible staff, and professional performance at every level. If elected, I would work to maintain that status for our town.”

Julie Veronezi, 65, is running on the Republican, Independence and Conservative Party lines on the ballot. She is a registered Republican. She was awarded Senator Kathy Marchione’s (R-43rd) Woman of Distinction in 2014. She is a volunteer safe boating instructor, member of the Hudson River Historic Boat Preservation and Sailing Society, as well as a life member of Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Ms. Veronezi was a high school teacher in the Taconic Hills Central School District for 39 years. She is currently the director of Philmont Community Center and a substitute teacher at Taconic Hills.

In her candidate profile she wrote: “There are many issues that affect the Town of Chatham. Examples are the safety of the East Chatham railroad bridge, the location of the Town Court, financing needed services, and developing economic opportunities to attract and maintain people of all ages. All issues reflect the need for three important aspects of government. They are insightful planning for the future of our town, utilizing a sound decision making process and working together as a team on all levels. As an elected council member, I will work diligently to serve the people and the Town of Chatham to insure that we not only resolve issues in a cooperative, cost saving manner that meets the needs of the citizens but also plan for the a future that insures our quality of life.”


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