Although the Putnam County District Attorney’s race is the main Republican battle residents have been keeping tabs on this summer, one more GOP primary scrum has popped up in the Town of Patterson as town planner Rich Williams is set to take on farm owner and former councilman Joe Capasso for the supervisor’s office.
Williams and Capasso are pegged for only the second primary election between two Republicans in the county outside of incumbent District Attorney Adam Levy taking on challenger Bob Tendy, who is currently Putnam Valley’s supervisor. Democrat and attorney Andy Falk, who has lived in Patterson for more than a decade, is running in hopes of giving a voice to the middle class and reigning in taxes. Falk ran twice in spirited state Assembly races against Republican Steve Katz, coming up short.
Capasso, who was a councilman for four years, ran four years ago against current Supervisor Michael Griffin and lost by just three votes in a Republican primary. This time around, he believes he can get it done.
“If you look around, I don’t see anything being planned,” Capasso said. “Anything hasn’t changed.”
While there is a new town hall, new courthouse and new library, Capasso said those municipal buildings are tax burdens and not the commercial buildings that need to come to Patterson. As a businessman for 36 years–17 of those at Beaver Creek Farm in town–Capasso believes he has the knack to oversee more commercial growth.
Noting his own business success, that includes turning his farm from a dump to a jewel in town, Capasso firmly believes he can help mold other places in town to the high standard he holds for Beaver Creek with Front Street being one project example.
Capasso said the town board and planning have turned down or made it difficult for new businesses to come to Patterson, stating he knows business owners that were rebuffed by the local government. Capasso wants to “help, not hinder” new businesses interested in Patterson.
“I’m not a politician, I don’t want to be one. I’m a businessman and I want to make things happen like Donald Trump but on a smaller scale,” Capasso said.
Williams, who got the endorsement of the town’s Republican Committee, said he believes his record in town government exceeds Capasso’s four years on the town board. Williams, a lifelong resident who has been working in town hall for 25 years, said he has received a “tremendous amount of support” so far and “a lot of people know me, a lot of people know where I stand.”
Patterson in the 1970s and 1980s put together development policies that made the town more of a residential than commercial area, Williams said, leading to tougher business growth. Regardless, Williams wants to push for zoning code changes in certain areas and foster tourism, commercialism, recreation and artisan based businesses growth. Williams added he is working with the Thunder Ridge Ski Area to become an attraction year round, rather than just the winter.
Williams pointed to the A&P Supermarket and Tractor Supply as two examples of the town garnering big businesses to help the tax burden. Patterson Crossing has also been approved, but the town is still waiting for developer to get the project underway.
Williams wasn’t concerned that Capasso came to the brink of an upset win four years ago against Griffin, stating the “longer you’re in office, people get tired and they’re looking for change.” Williams also argued Capasso ran a very dirty, negative campaign last time that many voters were too disgusted to vote at all.
“I’m hoping we don’t run that same race now,” Williams said. “That we stay on the issues, that we stay on what’s best for this community and what we can provide for this community.”
Capasso admits he had a difficult time grasping his narrow defeat in which absentee votes even had to be counted. Because his councilman position was already expiring, he was completely off the town board following the end of 2011.
“That was hard to digest,” Capasso, who even traveled out of town soon after the election to getaway for a few days, said. This time around, Capasso plans on spending a lot less money, not bombarding residents with too many signs, and running a campaign focused on what he can do for the town residents.
“They either want the same that they’ve seen for the past 20 years,” Capasso said. “Or they want change and the change is me.”