With Town of Plattekill Supervisor Jennifer Salemo deciding not to run for re-election after just one term in office, the race for Town Supervisor will pit longtime Town Board member Dean DePew Sr. versus businessman Michael Lembo.
DePew will run as a Republican and Conservative, while Lembo is running on the Democratic line. The supervisor’s office carries a two-year term.
The general election will be held November 7. Early voting began on October 28.
DePew was first appointed to the Town Board in 2013 to fill a vacancy. He won four elections to retain his seat including one in November 2019 after he was forced to resign due to stipulations in his state retirement from the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
DePew is serving the second year of a four-year term on the Town Board. If he is elected supervisor, the board will have to appoint a replacement to serve for one year in 2024.
DePew said his top priority is to protect the taxpayers of the community.
“I firmly believe wholeheartedly that 10 dollars in somebody’s pocket can change their world,” he said. “My main goal is to keep as much money in the pockets of everybody as I possibly can.”
DePew has been an outspoken opponent of a proposed county landfill occupying the Hertel Landfill or Camp Sunset.
The Ulster County Legislature passed a resolution in June opposing the siting of a county landfill in Plattekill at the urging of the Town Board and local residents.
“Together, working side by side, with all the residents of Plattekill, both Republicans and Democrats, we prevented a 200-acre mega landfill from being sited in our beautiful hometown,” DePew said.
Lembo served on the Town of Plattekill Planning Board for 10 years and was the chairman of the board. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Supervisor under Herbert Jenkins, who was the Plattekill Supervisor for two terms.
Lembo, who said he is semiretired from his excavating business, successfully fought against having a county landfill located on his property 35 years ago.
Lembo said landfills have outlived their usefulness, and Ulster County should be concentrating more on recycling.
“We should get rid of landfills,” he said. “They’re just polluting the ground. There isn’t any community that wants a dump in their backyard.”
In talking to residents, Lembo said many are dissatisfied with the lack of businesses in the town.
“We need to offer more businesses for the community,” he said. “It would not only provide services for people in the community, but also help to create jobs for some of the younger people to have a place to work and have an incentive to stay here.”
Lembo said the town could use a diner, new restaurants and a laundromat for starters.
New businesses would also broaden the tax base, Lembo said.
Lembo said taxes could rise next year since the town board held a public hearing for its October 18 meeting to consider passing a local law to exceed the state-mandated 2.0 percent tax cap. The town unveiled its 2024 tentative budget on October 4 with a proposed 10.3 percent increase in the tax levy over 2023. (Salemo, at that hearing, predicted the increase would be less than 10 percent, but still large enough to exceed the state’s tax cap.)
“It’s going to be an issue now because I don’t know if they’re going to be able to stand on their fiscal responsibility now that we have to raise taxes over the 2.0 percent tax cap,” Lembo said of the Republican-controlled board which includes DePew.
There won’t be much drama in the election for three Town Board positions, though.
Incumbent Wilfrido Castillo Jr. and newcomer Joe Hoppenstedt, who will be on the Republican and Conservative lines, will almost certainly win four-year terms because both Democrat Marisa McClinton and Democrat/Working Families nominee Mike Jurkovic suspended their campaigns in the summer. The names of McClinton and Jurkovic will remain on the ballot, however.
Castillo was appointed to the town board in 2021 and elected to fill out the unexpired term in 2022.
A Plattekill resident since 1959, Castillo was a member of the Plattekill Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for 17 years, including 11 years as its chairman.
A lifetime resident of Plattekill, Hoppenstedt is seeking elective office for the first time. Employed as a project manager for Roberts Roofing, Hoppenstedt is an active 15-year member of Plattekill Fire Rescue. He has held the office of Lieutenant and financial secretary for the Plattekill Fire Department.
James Fazio, a Republican and Conservative who was appointed on May 17 to fill the seat left vacant by former board member Darryl Matthews, will be running unopposed to fill out the remaining two years of his term. The term will expire at the end of 2025.
Fazio has twice served on the ZBA and served as the town’s Dog Control Officer under former Supervisor Judy Mayle. He was an Ulster County BOCES employee for 25 years before retiring.
Kevin Roberts, who represents Plattekill in District 12 as a Republican and Conservative, will be unopposed for another two-year term in the Ulster County Legislature. He has served eight terms in office.
Roberts sponsored the resolution opposing a countywide landfill in the Town of Plattekill on two sites. It passed by an 18-5 vote in June.
Republican/Conservative Sarah Nelson will be unopposed for the Town Clerk/Tax Collector’s job. She is currently the deputy to Donna Hedrick, who chose not to run for re-election for another four-year term.
Democrat/Conservative Town Justice Annamaria Maciocia is unopposed for another four-year term.