Last Wednesday, Sen. James Skoufis held an intimate town hall for citizens at 2 Alices on Broadway.
The town hall was part of his “Skoufis on the street” series. Initially, the town hall was scheduled for earlier in the summer. The event was rescheduled out of respect for Sen.Bill Larkin’s funeral proceedings. The town hall started with updates from Skoufis on his past few months in office.
Skoufis ended his updates with comments about his local office on 47 Grand street. “It was very important as a demonstration of my commitment to this city that we have an office here,” said Skofis.
Throughout the event, citizens had the opportunity to ask Skoufis questions. Frequently, Skoufis was confronted about the Danskammer fracked power plant.
At a tense moment, Skoufis was accused of being purposefully silent despite the alleged environmental damage that Danskammer may cause to children. Skoufis was asked if he’d publicly confront the Danskammer situation. According to Skoufis, he’s done a lot to help the climate change movement, but critics question his position on environmental issues with the recent uproar over Danskammer.
Skoufis explained that in order to make an “objective analysis” for a solid position, he needs to receive all information on the project. Most of the individuals who confronted Skoufis live outside of Newburgh, in areas like New Paltz. New Paltz is part of the 42nd Senatorial district, rather than Newburgh’s 39th Senatorial district.
“Look I could not respect the activism more,” said Skoufis. “But let’s be clear on two things.” Skoufis proceeded to explain how the Danskammer plant has a 15 to 20-year business model and would be unable to extend fossil fuels beyond 2050, without breaking the law.
“I ask where you’re from, because look, when this fight is done,” said Skoufis, “you’ll go back to New Paltz, you’ll go back to Westchester, you’ll go back to Beacon. You don’t have to deal with the financial calamity that will exist in the Marlboro School District.”
The Marlboro School District is expected to shoulder the Danskammer Power Plant. Skoufis mentioned that the last time there was a power plant issue in the school district, they needed a financial bailout from the New York State Government. “Depending on what happens with this, you’re going to have potentially a bankrupt school district.” Skoufis emphasized that the outsiders won’t have to deal with the potential economic fallout. Skoufis said property taxes may skyrocket and a bailout may happen.
“I’m not saying that’s a reason to support or not support it,” said Skoufis. “But that has to be a consideration for the people who live here or representatives.” During the town hall, Skoufis agreed to a meeting in the future with climate change activists to evaluate the potential damage of the Danskammer Power Plant.
At the end of the town hall, Skoufis shook hands with and spoke to constituents. Despite being confronted over Danskammer, Skoufis isn’t concerned over losing support. Due to a lack of information, Skoufis believes he’s making the right move to not yet come out with a statement over Danskammer. Skoufis believes that his voters will focus on the totality of his work rather than just Danskammer.
“The feedback that I’ve gotten while in office has been relatively positive,” said Skoufis. “I hope that’s a reflection of me doing my best in this new position.” Skoufis added that those who couldn’t attend the town hall may visit his local office for constituent needs.
Note: In a previous edition, it was stated New Paltz is part of the 19th congressional district. Although this is true, Skoufis's district is senatorial, thus it should be mentioned that New Paltz is part of the 39th district. Also Skoufis has been in office for nine months.