The Putnam Examiner

Democrats Look to Maintain Dominance on Philipstown Board

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Three Philipstown residents, all with different levels of governmental experience, are vying for two town board seats in a contested election this year.

Two-term board member and Democrat Nancy Montgomery is looking for another four years, while running mate and Democrat Bob Flaherty, appointed to the board a few months ago, is running his first campaign. Republican-nominated Craig Watters is in search of becoming the first non-Democrat to sit on the board since former member and current Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra did so several years ago.

Supervisor Richard Shea is running unopposed.

Nancy Montgomery
Nancy Montgomery

Montgomery said she’s entering this race with a new perspective on the community and her role as a leader. If she secures this third term, Montgomery believes it would be her last.

With the tragic death of her husband, Jim Lovell, who died in 2013 in the MTA wreak on the Hudson Line, Montgomery suffered a terrible loss, but it showed her “why you participate in making your community better.”

Maintaining town services at a sustainable rate is important to Montgomery as she campaigns for her third run. Two aspects she pointed out were recreation and roads.

Emergency services like fire departments in town are also critical that the board must support, she said. With additional tourism coming to the area, it puts those services in more of a bind and as a result, the town must reach out to the state and federal government for assistance.

There is also county money for better senior services, Montgomery asserted, but the town hasn’t seen that. While Butterfield will have a new senior center, Montgomery questions how the seniors have truly been helped outside of that promise of an improved facility.

Consolidation of the courts, fire and emergency services and building departments are also items Montgomery wants to explore.

“We’ve been talking about all of this for a long time,” Montgomery said. “This term, I want to make it happen.”

Bob Flaherty
Bob Flaherty

Flaherty was appointed to the Philipstown town board several months ago to fill the void of former board member and current Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy.

Flaherty said his background as a project manager professionally allows him to be a contributing member of the town board. As an organized and dedicated person, Flaherty understands how to get important work done. Flaherty said he follows through on whatever task is in front of him at any given time.

During his short tenure on the board, Flaherty said he’s been a straightforward lawmaker, meeting with a handful of residents with different issues they have in town.

“I’m very involved and I make sure I follow through with issues that come up,” Flaherty said.

The broadest issue Philipstown faces, Flaherty said, is whether to pave certain dirt roads, which has been a lightning rod for controversy. Part of South Mountain Pass was paved, Flaherty said, because “it was the best thing to do for the entire community” with steep slopes that would be problematic when it rained.

The expansion of Garrison Café, turning Garrison Fire Department into a district and the drug epidemic that has hit Philipstown are other issues that Philipstown public officials would face, Flaherty added.

Craig Watters
Craig Watters

Watters, who called Philipstown “unique and special” is looking to bring a message of unity to the town. He said he noticed the town has become to entangled with politics, leading to some residents not getting along with each other as a result.

Watters wants to be that bridge for the community.

“There was a sense that it was OK to have differences of opinions but now a days it’s just become so divisive that some people don’t get involved in certain groups,” Watters said.

Watters also wants to bring some political diversity to the board that is fully Democratic. A registered Libertarian who is running on the Republican (and Independence) line, Watters said government has always worked better when “there is a healthy conversation back and forth debates about the issues.”

One ongoing debate he addressed is pushing back against a possible ordinance on permits for mass gatherings. The changes to the ordinance include several different burdensome requirements on a resident’s private property that have never been a problem in town before. Additionally, the type of gathering, like if it were along political lines, could lead to turning down certain permits, he said.

As for dirt roads, Watters said he agreed when the town board paved a portion of South Mountain Pass, noting complications with certain dirt roads and maintaining them.

Watters said he isn’t concerned about going up against two Democratic incumbents where past elections have been dominated by Democrats. He said high voter turnout would be key.

“I don’t see it as being a David versus Goliath thing,” Watters said.

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