By RICK REMSNYDER
Supervisor John Valk has made it official that he will not be seeking re-election this November after serving 25 years as the head of the Town of Shawangunk.
It had been widely speculated for months that Valk would leave town government at the end of 2023.
Prior to Valk making his announcement in a January 26 press release, Ulster County legislator Ken Ronk Jr. said he planned to run for the office.
Councilman Adrian “Binker” DeWitt, who previously said he was seriously considering a run, told the Wallkill Valley Times on Friday that he was “definitely leaning towards running” after hearing of Valk’s announcement.
“This is a very bittersweet announcement, but I do feel it’s time for me to step down and pass the reins on to the next Supervisor,” Valk said in a statement. “I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish over the years with the help of all my different board members.”
Valk served on the Town Board for 32 years. He was a board member for seven years and has served the last 25 as Supervisor.
Valk said during his tenure the Town of Shawangunk and its residents were able to see many infrastructure and quality of life improvements while keeping taxes affordable for all of its residents.
DeWitt and Councilmen Brian Amthor and Alex Danon praised Valk for his long service to the town. DeWitt served on the board with Valk for 21 years and has been the Deputy Supervisor for most of that time.
“I think John’s greatest asset as Supervisor has been budgeting,” DeWitt said. “Fiscal responsibilities. We built a new Town Hall and we had a lot of money saved up for that. We’ve been able to build numerous parks with volunteers and grants.”
DeWitt also said under Valk’s leadership the town has built a new rail trail and a new well.
Amthor, who has served with Valk on the board since 2007, said Valk will be missed after he retires.
“I always looked at John as a mentor over the last 16 plus years,” Amthor said. “I have learned so much from him that has helped me grow as a person and as an elected official.”
Amthor said Valk didn’t make any rash decisions and was well prepared to handle the variety of issues that the Town of Shawangunk dealt with over the years.
“This Town means so much to him because everything he did was for the residents and always had their best interests at heart,” Amthor said. “No matter what was asked of him in his position he gave it 110 percent. Every day he walked into that Town Hall, every single decision was thoroughly thought out beforehand because he wanted to make sure it was the right move for today and for years to come. I wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
Danon, who is in his second year on the board, said Valk was a dedicated public servant for more than three decades.
“To do this job (Supervisor) for that long, it is clear he cares deeply about our community and its residents,” Danon said. “The fact that he has been unopposed and/or cross-endorsed multiple times also shows his ability to work for everyone and for what is right. His experience and knowledge will be missed for sure.”
Valk said he is confident the Town of Shawangunk is moving in the right direction.
“Shawangunk is and always will be my home and every decision that I made I had the best interests of all of our residents to make sure that they were as proud to call this Town home as much as I do,” he said. “I look forward to where the Town is headed and I know it will be in great hands. I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way.”