The Town of Montgomery Supervisor race is heating up as three politicians announce their candidacy: former Walden mayor Brian Maher (R), Maybrook mayor Dennis Leahy (D) and incumbent Rodney Winchell (R).
Maher secured the Republican endorsement, which will force a primary on June 25. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., location to be determined by the Orange County Board of Elections.
If elected, Maher will update the comprehensive plan, improve town infrastructure, create a town-wide youth employment program and be a resource to organizations in the town.
Maher said there is little he can do to stop large projects, such as Project Sailfish or Medline. However, he will listen to residents’ concerns about these large projects and ensure those projects follow the law and planning board procedures.
“Being a representative is not just about bringing in as much business as possible,” Maher said. “It’s a balance between bringing businesses in, creating jobs, keeping taxes stable and maintaining a certain quality of life that the residents here have grown to love and appreciate.”
Of concern is BHT, a proposed auto recovery facility near Browns Road that residents and the Orange County Planning Department are concerned will impact groundwater and the Tin Brook.
“Creating jobs and expanding our businesses are extremely important, but we also can protect our local environment at the same time,” Maher said. “We can do both.”
Maher said residents’ concerns highlight the need for updates to the town’s zoning code and comprehensive plan, which he would make one of his top priorities. The zoning regulations of the comprehensive plan date back to 1988.
Maher said he will also identify top infrastructure priorities in the town and secure revenue through grant funding and revenue-generating investments.
Another top priority would be to create a Montgomery Youth Employment program, which teaches youth job, resume and financial skills.
Maher was mayor of Walden from 2009 to 2015, where he co-founded the Hudson Valley Honor Flight, re-established the Walden comprehensive plan, addressed infrastructure needs, established the Walden Youth Employment plan, and more.
Maher has also been the communications director for Senator Bill Larkin, the executive director of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., a reservist for the United States Navy, and a member of the Orange County Grant Development Block Grant Committee.
Maher is running on the Conservative and Independence party lines.
If elected, Leahy will address failing infrastructure and promote smart growth and economic development.
Leahy said he will address the infrastructure of town buildings. A recent report from Anderson Design Group stated the town highway department garage is deteriorated and poses a serious safety risk to workers. Building 112, which is connected to the town hall, has been unused and vacant for years.
Leahy said he will address water and sewer infrastructure in the town for future growth and promote smart growth and economic development to benefit the town and three villages.
He requested a traffic study for Medline, and he is concerned about proposed projects’ impacts on the environment. He will make sure residents concerns about the town’s largest proposed projects—including Medline, Project Sailfish and BHT—will be addressed by the planning board.
“I have no problem with smart growth, I just want to make sure that something is not just slapped up that’s going to be later on regretted because it wasn’t thought through right,” Leahy said.
He also promises to provide leadership and structure in town government.
Leahy ran for town supervisor in 2015 and lost to former supervisor Mike Hayes.
“The town was in desperate need for a unifying force in 2015 and clearly the need still exists today,” Leahy said.
He will also enhance town parks.
Leahy has served as Maybrook’s mayor for the past 11 years, where he has spearheaded village infrastructure, obtained a new senior center, government center, sewer treatment plant and sidewalks. About 90 percent of the village sewer lines have been relined.
Leahy has also upgraded the village’s parks, structured the police department to meet civil service standards and promoted economic development through conversations with the Galaxy project.
“Rather than waving from the sidelines, I have taken an active role in the village’s infrastructure and economic development from the ground up while keeping taxes reasonable for the residents,” Leahy said. “I feel my 17 years of experience as an elected official will be an asset on a town level.”
If re-elected, Winchell will promote business, update the comprehensive plan and spend taxpayer money wisely.
“I will continue to move the town forward if I am re-elected,” Winchell said.
A business owner himself, Winchell said he will promote small business.
“I’m pro-business,” Winchell said.
Winchell said he realizes that large businesses, such as Medline or Project Sailfish, will come into the town, or risk litigation against the town if they meet resistance.
He will continue to improve infrastructure in the village, including water and sewer infrastructure. Currently, the town has aging water and sewer infrastructure, and although this problem is not unique to Montgomery, Winchell said quality water and sewer infrastructure will attract businesses into the town. Businesses want to purchase property with water and sewer hookups already set up.
Winchell said he is currently updating the comprehensive plan and will seek taxpayer input.
“I want the public to be involved in the plan,” Winchell said. “Business people, people of all walks life, the average joe citizen, get everybody involved and say, ‘What do you want the town to look like?’ There are going to be different views, which is wonderful.”
Winchell said he will spend taxpayer money wisely.
“I’m the custodian on your investments as a taxpayer,” Winchell said. “You are taxed by forced; you’re not voluntarily giving your tax money up. So, I’m here to look where your money is going and how it’s going.”
Winchell has served as town supervisor since December 2017. In his first year in office, the Winchell administration placed security in the town hall, cleared out building 112 and removed the defunct HVAC system, replaced the town’s aging vehicle fleet with new leased vehicles, and more.
Winchell owns Romar Contracting, Inc. He is also an Air Force veteran.
Winchell is running on the Independence and Conservative party lines.
There are two seats open on the town board; Dan Dempsey is retiring and Mark Hoyt is running again.
The Town of Montgomery Democratic Committee endorsed Leahy for town supervisor; Kristen Brown and former Montgomery town supervisor Susan Cockburn for town board; and Lynda Mitchell for town justice.
The Town of Montgomery Republican Committee endorsed Maher for town supervisor; Hoyt and Ron Feller for town board and Fred Gorss for town justice.
While they did not secure the Republican endorsement, Winchell will run, as well as Dwight Warrington for town board.