COPAKE—The Copake Town Board has been one member short since January.
On November 3, voters will fill that vacant seat with one of two candidates, both of whom have sought town office before.
In the only local political race in town, Andrew Fisher and Jeffrey Judd face off.
Mr. Fisher ran for a Town Board seat in 2017 and Mr. Judd ran for town justice in 2019 and 2017.
The Town Board seat the candidates seek became vacant when Jeanne Mettler, who was in the midst of her second term as a Town Board member, ran and won election to the town supervisor post last November, leaving her board seat open. The seat has a term of one year remaining.
Paulette Bonanno’s name also appears on the ballot on the Working Families party line, but Ms. Bonanno, a Democrat, has withdrawn from the race, she told The Columbia Paper by email last week.
The withdrawal came too late for the Board of Elections to remove her name from the ballot.
“I wholeheartedly endorse Jeffrey Judd for the Copake Town Council and urge that all vote for him on the Democratic line,” she wrote.
Andrew “Andy” Fisher, 68, of Copake is running for his first term as a Copake Town Board member.
An enrolled Republican running on his party’s line, Mr. Fisher has been a Columbia County resident for nine years, five and a half of them full-time.
He earned his BS degree in political science at Brooklyn College and is the retired director of Administrative Operations at Women In Need, Inc.
He has worked on the Copake Revitalization Committee, the Copake Broadband Committee, Connect Columbia County, and the executive and finance committees of Copake Grange #935.
He and his wife, Patricia, have two adult children, David Fisher and Leigh Fisher-Troche and four grandchildren.
In a statement of issues, Mr. Fisher said, the potential installation of a large-scale solar array on 900 acres of agricultural land is currently consuming the community.
“We must make certain that, if it is indeed built as currently outlined, that our town can garner from the developer (Hecate) a deal which will be of maximum benefit to the town. For example, we could look to have our town taken ‘off the grid’ or perhaps have the developer establish an economic development fund as part of a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) negotiation. We must also make sure that the aesthetic integrity of our beautiful community is maintained, and that all necessary safety precautions are taken,” he said.
As a newcomer to office, Mr. Fisher said he “would like to ensure that all town residents have high speed broadband. It is crucial that the town and county do not fall behind in this arena again.
“This can be done by making it a priority to move on to 5G and other cutting-edge technologies. This would enable our community to compete with other locales. I would like to make certain that broadband is included with other infrastructure requirements that will help ‘future proof’ our town. We could begin this process by developing public transportation for the town inclusive of wayfinding signage, improving housing options for seniors and first time home buyers, and addressing water and sewer needs so we may begin to attract new businesses and residents to the town.
“In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to say that these goals can only be attained by working together in the spirit of collaboration.”
He said his track record of working with all members of the current board while serving on several town committees has been one of his favorite accomplishments. “We may not always agree on every issue, but it is important for us to listen to each other and to collaborate for the benefit of our families and community,” he said.
Jeffrey Judd, 62, is a Democrat running on his party’s line.
Since 2014, he has served on the Copake Zoning Board of Appeals and is currently the vice-chairman. He is an actor and serves on the Taconic Stage Board of Directors and is a member of the Copake Grange.
Born in Rochester, Mr. Judd earned his BA degree in theater from SUNY Albany; his Juris Doctor degree at the Cardozo School of Law. He was editor-in-chief of the International Law Journal and president of the Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Society.
He operates his own law firm, Judd Law, PLLC.
He and his wife, Carole Coleman, live at Copake Lake.
Mr. Judd believes “the main issue immediately facing Copake is encouraging responsible growth and development, while maintaining and enhancing our town’s natural beauty and respecting our agricultural roots. There is currently a proposal to convert 900 acres of scenic pasture and corn fields into a 600-Megawatt commercial solar generation facility; the proposal is for the installation of 200,000 solar panels.
“While I am a strong advocate for appropriately sited and scaled wind, solar and renewable energy facilities (and jobs and revenues generated), I cannot support the Hecate Energy proposal,” said in his statement of issues.
“The current board has not raised taxes and I believe that with responsible growth and development we can keep taxes flat.
“My 30 years as a litigator have taught me not only how to plead and win a case, but, equally important, how to reach our goals through listening, cooperation, negotiation and eventual agreement. I have served on the boards of several corporations and organizations… and understand what it takes to discuss issues with civility in order to reach consensus and progress toward our common goals.
“As a member and vice-chair of the Copake Zoning Board of Appeals, after thorough environmental and aesthetic review, I cast the deciding vote approving a multi-million-dollar resort hotel at Catamount. Similarly, I have supported all of Catamount’s responsible improvements, including the Zip Line and modest expansion.
“… [W]hen I feel that a proposal is not good for the community, I do not hesitate to speak up. Against the advice of counsel, I rejected a proposed ‘agreement’ with landowners of a controversial family compound/rental properties on Upper Rhoda Pond. This led to a lawsuit where we were successful in obtaining a favorable court order limiting allowed property uses and maintaining the character of the neighborhood.
“If elected, I look forward to continuing the collaborative work of the current board, maintaining rural charm and environmentalism, while growing Copake’s economy and avoiding tax increases.”
To contact Diane Valden email