Election 2023

Environmentalist Kahng Runs to Unseat Addonizio on Putnam Legislature

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Democrat Kathy Kahng decided to toss her hat in the ring earlier this year for the District 3 seat on the Putnam County Legislature.

Kahng has lived in Kent for 20 years and is active in several environmental organizations, including the Putnam County Land Trust, the Town of Kent Lakes Committee and Sustainable Putnam and has served as her town’s stormwater chairperson.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of environmental and climate-related groups with various communities for over 28 years, and I’m running because there doesn’t seem to be any county engagement on these important issues,” said Kahng, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence in Brewster.

Kahng faces off against Republican Legislator Toni Addonizio, who is seeking her fourth and final three-year term. Addonizio declined an interview with The Examiner.

Kahng and her company CityRax create community programs such as waste management solutions like the Smart Compost pilot program for the New York City Department of Sanitation. She advises on project management, public space management, marketing, creative branding and community engagement. Kahng’s clients include Grand Central Partnership, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority the Bryant Park Corporation and Hunter College.

Kahng is a 20-year resident of the Hill & Dale Country Club, a community that is on Palmer Lake. For years, Kahng has been involved in improving deteriorating water quality caused by harmful algae blooms (HABS) that has rendered several county lakes toxic, unable to be used for recreation. Kahng said HABS are due to failing septic systems leaking phosphorous and nitrogen.

“If you can remove excess phosphorous from failing septics seeping into the lakes you can greatly reduce the algae blooms,” she said.

The only recent public record of Addonizio showing any interest in the water quality of county lakes is in the July 2022 minutes of a county Environmental Committee meeting when she asked about the aeration process, which improves the oxygenation circulation in lakes.

Kahng said if she was elected legislator her first project would be to coordinate with the state to pursue nontraditional septic plans.

“There’s been $200 million earmarked for water quality projects for the Hudson Valley with $35 million assigned to Lake Carmel for wastewater treatment and sewage collection around the lake,” she said. “Another $5 million is for Palmer Lake for non-conventional septic systems. Why hasn’t the county been more proactive with the (Department of Environmental Conservation)?”

Last year, Addonizio voted with the majority of Putnam County legislators on a resolution asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to veto legislation to advance state water protections on “Class C” streams that replenish groundwater and aquifers that supply drinking water. Legislators objected to the county waterways being under the supervision of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, advocating for the county’s Soil and Water Conservation District as better equipped to protect the water systems.

Kahng said attracting more small businesses to Putnam County means studying which businesses would succeed in the area.

“With my business background I am able to figure out which specific type of small retailer would attract residents in all county towns,” Kahng said. “We can get new businesses by connecting them with small building owners for a start.”

Kahng has been working with the Kent Climate Smart Task Force to set up public compost bins for residents to drop off their food scraps near Town Hall. So far, Carmel has signed up 200 households to request the town begin composting and 48 Kent families want to compost as well.

“I was hired by the Department of Sanitation of New York City in 2021 to produce a pilot composting program where we put out 20 bins in Astoria and 3,000 people signed up for the program,” Kahng said. “This is an ideal program for people who can’t compost in their yards. Food scraps in landfills produces methane and carbon, which is harmful to the environment.”

Addonizio’s public voting record shows support for legislation prohibiting any outside municipality, including New York City, from housing its homeless population, migrants and asylum seekers within Putnam County’s permitted temporary residency facilities without first entering into a shared services agreement with the county. She has supported repealing the state’s updated gun law that bans firearms in sensitive, public places and opposed COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

As chair of the Putnam County Legislature in 2021, she publicly supported Tatiana Ibrahim, a local leader of the anti-Critical Race Theory movement who has called Democrats “communists.”

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