KINDERHOOK IS THE LARGEST municipality in Columbia County, with a couple of thousand more residents than the City of Hudson, the second biggest community. Kinderhook is also the only one of the 18 towns in this county that has two villages within its boundaries. It’s got a national historic site too.
By Columbia County standards the town has a large retail business sector, plus farms and suburban developments. And because the town has nearly 14% of the county’s population, the supervisor of Kinderhook can have a lot to say over what happens at the Board of Supervisors—the county’s governing body.
Running this town is a big job that calls for a variety of skills and experience, which should make it easy to pick the best qualified person for the job. It reflects well on the town that this conventional wisdom does not hold true this year.
Two candidates are running for supervisor in Kinderhook: Peter Bujanow, a Democrat also running on the Working Families and Green Party lines; and Town Board member Patsy Leader, the current deputy supervisor and a member of the Independence Party. She also has the endorsements of the town Republican and Conservative parties.
Both candidates have served on the Town Board and served as deputy supervisor, although Ms. Leader has been on the board longer and is currently an incumbent.
Both of them have resumes full of community service, leaving no doubt that their energies and their hearts are devoted to Kinderhook.
The question before the voters is which of the candidates has the set of skills that will best serve the town over the next two years. Both vow to keep taxes low and within the state-mandated “cap.” Ms. Leader knows how the board functions now. Mr. Bujanow can draw on his past experience as a board member and his work as a manager for state agencies to help make that low-tax goal a reality. Ms. Leader has run a small business; Mr. Bujanow has had academic training and direct experience running complex and costly projects.
And here is where the scale and diversity of Mr. Bujanow’s experience in labor relations, banking, insurance and real estate gives him a distinct edge when it comes to the challenges that lie ahead for the town. These challenges are not theoretical. They’re here now.
Earlier this month the county Board of Supervisors approved a municipal agreement that requires the county and the towns to share more services. It is part of the governor’s initiative to reduce the duplication of services that burden taxpayers. That could be welcome news… but Kinderhook will need someone in charge who can help the Town Board navigate these consolidations so that the state doesn’t simply shift costs onto the backs of county and town taxpayers rather than actually make government more efficient and less costly.
Mr. Bujanow’s experience with multiple state agencies and the politics of the Capital Region should also serve the town well in terms of making sure Kinderhook receives its fair share of federal and state funding. This is especially important when it comes to big-ticket infrastructure improvements, like repairing roads and bridges, and forcing the slippery providers of broadband communications to deliver faster, more reliable internet connections.
He knows from direct experience how the institutions that define this community function. His knowledge comes from membership on the Ichabod Crane Central School District school board, the local library boards and the library system that serves all the public libraries in the county, among other local public and private organizations where he’s volunteered.
He recognizes the need to protect the rural character of the town before it disappears forever. He understands that this can’t be done by strangling development. It can only be accomplished by encouraging development that fits with the need to sustain the land, the water and the residents of the town.
As the climate continues to warm, all of our communities will encounter increasingly difficult choices. It will take deft leadership to make the best of unsettled times.
Peter Bujanow has the qualifications and the record of service that the Town of Kinderhook needs. Please vote for him for Kinderhook town supervisor either in early voting, available through November 3, or on Election Day, November 5.