Political newcomers Debra Clinton and Pastor Phil Johnson are vying for the seat in the new District 16 in the Ulster County Legislature.
The district encompasses all of the Town of Gardiner and part of the Town of Plattekill. The term is for two years.
Longtime legislator Tracey Bartels, who represents the current district that includes all of Gardiner and part of the Town of Shawangunk, chose not to run for re-election.
Johnson, 71, is running for District 16 on the Republican and Conservative lines.
A resident of the Town of Plattekill since 1989, Johnson and his wife Jean have five children and 12 grandchildren. He has been a pastor at three churches and founded The Christian Community Deliverance Church in Plattekill in 2013.
He was a member of the ethics committee of the Town of Plattekill and a board member of the Plattekill Library for four years.
“I want to be the voice of the community,” Johnson said. “I’m concerned about the family structure, our school system and the moral fabric of our community and nation.”
Before becoming a pastor, Johnson worked for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services before retiring in 2013. He also served as a board member of a Newburgh homeless shelter for five years.
“I would like to accomplish keeping our community safe and sound for our seniors by safeguarding them from outsiders wanting to disrupt the landscape where we live,” Johnson said. “Many people have expressed concern about taxes, the environment and drugs.”
Clinton, 53, is running for the legislature on the Democratic and Working Families party lines.
She resides in Gardiner with her husband and two children. She is the principal of the Marlboro Middle School.
Though she has never held elective office, Clinton believes she is qualified to represent Gardiner and Shawangunk on the county legislature.
“My lifelong connection to the community, combined with my understanding of our district, makes me well-suited to step into the role,” Clinton said. “I believe that my activism, dedication to democratic values, and my experience for the past 15 years as a school administrator have provided me with the skills and insight to serve as the county legislator for District 16.”
Clinton said residents have talked about problems they are facing while she has campaigned.
“Issues that have come up have been about the huge bills people received from Central Hudson over the past year or so,” she said. “Affordable housing is a general theme about which many have expressed concerns.”
Another priority for Clinton if she is elected is to protect the environment.
“It is imperative that we transition toward a sustainable, green economy that not only protects our environment but also creates jobs for our residents,” she said. “By investing in renewable energy, green infrastructure and sustainable practices, we can lay the foundation for a more sustainable future in Ulster County and continue to be a model for the rest of New York State.”