Vacancy on K’hook Town Board draws two local officeholders

KINDERHOOK–Two people are running for one open seat on the Kinderhook Town Board. Philip Bickerton, currently a trustee on the Valatie Village Board, is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines. Matthew Nelson, a member of the Ichabod Crane Board of Education, is running on the Democratic line.

The Town Board seat was left open after the death of board member Deborah Simonsmeier earlier this year. The board choose not to appoint anyone to replace Ms. Simonsmeier or to have a special election. The person elected this November 8 will serve for three years starting January 1.

Town Supervisor Pat Grattan said this week that the board could pass a motion to appoint the newly elected board member to start before January, but he said the board has not discussed doing that.

If Mr. Bickerton is elected he will have to resign from the Valatie Village Board. Mr. Nelson can serve on both the Town Board and the school board if elected.

Philip Bickerton

Philip Bickerton, 57, is a registered Republican, who has served on the Valatie Village Board for 8 years. He is a self-employed carpenter. Mr. Bickerton volunteers with the Valatie Fire Department as a Class A Firefighter. He is also a member of the Valatie Santa Claus Club and the Valatie Community Watch and a volunteer with the Valatie Community Theatre.

Born in Ipswich, MA, Mr. Bickerton is a graduate of Ichabod Crane High School and Vassar College. He is married to Tahnee (Heins) Bickerton; they have two young daughters.

In his candidate statement, Mr. Bickerton wrote: “I want to work with Patsy Leader and other local leaders who are working hard to fight the opioid crisis. This issue is foremost in my mind because the devastation is so real and immediate.

“More communication between local governments, their boards and civic organizations through workshops and informal meetings is necessary. This would be simple and useful without reinventing the wheel. Shared knowledge, shared goals, and shared services can make us more efficient and help keep taxes low.

“The vacant buildings at the town park need to go and we need to find the money to do that. I envision a new multiuse building that can also attract cultural and family activities. These same activities need to be encouraged at our local community theater and town hall.”

Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelson, 37, is a registered Democrat who has served on the Ichabod Crane Board of Education since May of 2016. He is the vice president, manager of Small Balance Loan Program at the Community Preservation Corporation. He served on the town Board of Assessment Review for two years (2014-16). He was appointed by the Town Board to serve on two committees, one that is negotiating the new Highway Department contract between the town and the Village of Valatie and the other that is working on the franchise agreement with the town’s current internet and cable television provider. Mr. Nelson is also on the steering committee for Connect Columbia, a community group trying to bring affordable broadband access to all parts of the county. He is the founder/organizer of KNV-CAN–the Kinderhook Niverville Valatie Community Action Network.

Mr. Nelson was appointed by the governor to the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council (CREDC); is a member of the Board of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition; and AmeriCorps alum.

Born in Oswego, Mr. Nelson has a BS in Social Science from University of Maryland University College. He and his wife, Kelly, have three small children.

He wrote in his candidate statement, “I am running for Town Board this year because I want to continue my efforts to get things done for our community.

“I will listen to the needs and concerns of my fellow residents, be a strong and effective communicator, champion new ideas, and work hard every day to make our town an even better place to live, work and raise a family. I will always put community first. I will work hard in this role on behalf of residents from all parts of the town.

“I will put my experience in government and the private sector to work to help the town grow and prosper, while maintaining its unique character and charm. I am driven by ideas and issues, not politics. I am a pragmatic and practical individual who will look at all sides of an issue and work with others to produce the best results possible. I humbly ask for your support on November 8.”

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day, November 8.

For more information about where to vote, contact the Columbia County Board of Elections, 401 State Street, Hudson 12534 at 518 828-3115, or visit the Columbia County website for a link to the Board of Elections website.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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