KINDERHOOK – It was standing room only on the second floor of the Village Hall last week when the Kinderhook, Niverville, Valatie Community Action Network (KNV-CAN) hosted a candidate forum for the two mayoral and four trustee candidates in Tuesday’s election.
Running for mayor are Rima Bostick, on the Responsible Party line, and James C. Dunham, on the Van Buren Party line. Running for two open seats trustees are Robert Baumeister, on the People Party line; Richard A. Phillips, on the Van Buren Party line; as well as Stephen B. Bean and Peter Hunter, both on the Freedom Party. Incumbent Village Justice David A. Dellehunt is also on the ballot running for reelection unopposed.
Terms for the mayor and the trustee are two years. Neither incumbent Mayor Carol Weaver nor Trustee Brian Murphy is running for reelection.
The moderator for the event was Parry Teasdale, the editor and publisher of this newspaper. After giving the candidates a few minutes for opening remarks, Mr. Teasdale read questions from the audience that were submitted be residents at the beginning of the March 2 event. About 100 people attended the hour-and-half-long forum. Question topics included the safety of village sidewalks, parking, truck traffic on local and state roads, the future of the village Department of Public Works, whether the community needs both village and town courts, economic development in the business district, the planting of trees and leaf pick-up, among other things.
Judge Dellehunt, who is also a Kinderhook town justice, spoke about the role and importance local courts. “Town and village courts are the closest to the people,” he said. He has been a judge in the village for 16 years and seeks to be reelected to the four-year post.
Mr. Bean was the only candidate who did not attend the forum and sent a statement saying that he was in Florida helping his daughter with work on her home. In his statement, which was read by Mr. Teasdale, he wrote that he “cares deeply about the village” and was interested in the revitalization of the Village Square.
Rima Bostick said she is a long-time village resident who has refurbished houses in the village and worked for the state Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee as a senior budget analyst.
In her opening statement she said that she would look closely at where tax dollars are spent. “I know there are things we can do to reduce costs without affecting quality of service,” she said. She stressed getting more volunteers to help save the village money, and promised that she would only serve for one two-year term.
In her closing remarks she said, “I’d like to see more participation.”
James C. Dunham is running for mayor after previously serving in that post from 2002-2006. He has also served as a village trustee and, most recently managed the sewer project for the board. The project involved construction of a sewer main and individual hook-ups for buildings in Kinderhook’s business district. The main connects the village to the Valatie Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Mr. Dunham said in his opening statement that if elected mayor, “I want to keep our Department of Works.” He also talked about continuing current village programs like the tree replacement program and working with not-for-profits.
During his closing statements he urged people to visit the new businesses in the village. He also said he would bring back evening hours at the mayor’s office so that people could talk to him about issues.
Robert Baumeister is a former trustee. He said in his statement about running for trustee again that he supported concerts in the Village Square and programs for children. “We have a lot of empty store fronts,” he said of economic development in the village. “I think the leaf removal in this [village] is excellent,” he said in answer to a question about whether that service should continue.
Peter Hunter commented on the turnout at the forum in his opening statement saying, “This is more than turned up for the last two elections.” He said he would change the village ballot to include a “none of the above” option so that if candidates couldn’t win a majority of votes the village would have to have a special election. He also said, if elected, he would ask for term limits for elected officials and to have elections conducted by mail.
Richard Phillips is the only incumbent running for a seat as trustee. He is also a former mayor and said he’s been in village government for 30 years. The point he made several times during the forum was keeping the village affordable for residents. “I’m very careful of the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said. He talked about the new DPW garage the Village Board approved rebuilding after a fire destroyed the old building. “Insurance should cover it all and I’m going to make sure of that,” Mr. Phillips said of the costs to rebuild.
Voting will be Tuesday, March 15 at the Village Hall, 6 Chatham Street, from noon to 9 p.m.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .