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Democrat Maggie Ploener is running for the District 2 seat on the Putnam County Legislature held by Republican William Gouldman, who is seeking his fourth and last two-year term. District 2 covers Putnam Valley and the hamlet of Lake Secor.
Ploener has lived in Putnam Valley for 10 years and has never run for public office. She has been endorsed by the Working Families Party and is the only Putnam County candidate endorsed by the AFL-CIO Labor Union.
A small business owner, Ploener is a massage therapist who regularly volunteers at food banks, leads food and coat drives and has formed an artist group that regularly exhibits at the local library. She also created a Lyme disease support group.
Gouldman is originally from the Bronx and has worked in New York City managing a major security company and owned a bar in the city called On the Rocks. He has livede in Putnam Valley with his wife for 30 years.
A fiscal conservative, Gouldman said he actively connects with his constituents via social media by promoting a variety of government services.
“There are many services offered by federal, state and county (government) that offers funding, especially to seniors, that people might not be aware of. I promote whatever I can on social media to help taxpayers,” he said.
Ploener said protecting the environment is her highest priority. She cited a state program that helps property owners on certain lakes to install upgraded septic systems.
“I know two people who have used this fund because people don’t know about this program or how to access it,” Ploener said. “We need proactive legislation and more communication between the public and our legislators and the different agencies.”
The problem with that particular program was it only applied to property owners living directly on Oscawana Lake, Palmer Lake and the Croton watershed, Gouldman explained.
“There was a $10,000 limit per household that would go towards $25,000 septic systems, a cost that was prohibitive for many homeowners,” Gouldman said. “Currently there is $140,000 left in the program, and I’ve been working behind the scenes to include more lakes, but currently the conversation isn’t moving very fast on this.”
In July, Gouldman voted with six other legislators to approve measures to fend off New York City’s relocation plan to prevent migrants from living in the county unless county permission is obtained.
“I did vote for this,” said Gouldman. “It’s not a Putnam County or state problem. It’s a federal problem. In reality, these people are homeless and where are we going to put homeless people when we don’t have the infrastructure to support them? And who is going to pay for it? The taxpayers?
“For the foreseeable future it’s not going to happen here. The federal government has to correct this problem. If they think New York City, the largest city in the country, can’t handle the immigrants, how can a smaller county handle it?”
Ploener supports helping a limited number of immigrants who can work jobs that are currently unfilled.
“Immigrants coming here are documented and they all want to work. Their homeless situation is temporary,” she said. “Why shouldn’t we be allowed to put up about 50 immigrants in a church or hotel?”
Affordable housing in the county and the town is another issue, especially for seniors. Gouldman recalled a discussion a few years ago about creating affordable housing for first responders and seniors.
“We considered a piece of property in the downtown but I’m not sure what happened with that. I haven’t reached out to connect with developers who might be interested but I will be doing that,” he said.
Ploener said affordable housing would attract more people to the area, which would attract more businesses.
“My massage business is in Somers and I would love to move my business to Putnam Valley if there were more development and more people actually came here,” Ploener said. “It’s unfortunate that most people live in one place and work elsewhere,” she said. “Perhaps the town would consider leasing some town-owned land to a developer or builder and together they can tackle septic and well water issues so we can develop affordable places to live.”
Last year, Gouldman voted with the other seven Republicans on the legislature urging Albany repeal state legislation limiting gun-carrying in places of worship, parks, public shops and municipal centers. He claimed the law was unconstitutional.
Ploener advocates for people to own guns for hunting.
“But we do need common-sense gun laws especially when it comes to issues regarding gun owners suffering mental health issues,” she said.
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/