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Wilson, Favro seek Keene town supervisor seat | News, Sports, Jobs



KEENE — Keene voters will decide between two candidates for two supervisor this year: incumbent Joe Pete Wilson and Cori-Anne Favro, the current town clerk.

Two town council seats, town clerk, highway superintendent and town justice positions are also up for election. All of these races are contested except for Scott Smith’s highway superintendent position. Smith is running for reelection unopposed.

Early voting is open from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31. Voters can cast their ballots at either the Lake Placid Beach House at 31 Parkside Drive or at the North Hudson town offices on U.S. Route 9.

Election Day is Nov. 2. Voters can cast ballots on Election Day at the Keene Valley Fire Hall.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise sent questionnaires to candidates running in contested races. Their responses are below.

Cori-Anne Favro

Age: 33

Occupation: Town clerk, dental consultant, volunteer EMT and firefighter.

Q: Why are you running for town supervisor?

A: After being involved in the Town of Keene government as town clerk for the past 11 months, I feel my leadership style, experience and my vast knowledge of accounting and budgets would greatly benefit the town of Keene in a positive way. I am running because this is my home, I am proud of my community and I want to see it thrive. I want to make Keene a sustainable place to live for young families and a place to enjoy retirement.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have held a leadership role for almost all of my professional career in dental business over the past 11 years. I have led and managed up to 50 teams at once, created software for accountability, data collection and tracking. I work daily in accounting, contract negotiations, data analysis and technology innovation. I am a leader in my community as well, giving back hours and hours of time volunteering as an EMT and firefighter and also volunteering on the parent teacher committee as president for two years. My other qualification is that I have a young family myself, living in Keene. I know the challenges young families are facing and I can relate.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: My main goals as town supervisor would be to do major data collection and tracking on locations such as the transfer station and to then put together a four year plan of upgrades, environmental positive changes (composting program, better recycling) and also ease of access from location of bins to how you even purchase tickets (kiosk).

Second goal would be to bring pride back to the town owned facilities with paint, gardening, regular maintenance and sidewalk repairs with added crosswalks. I would like to review our budgeting process by making sure we have planned projects calculated into the budget, we work to get community grants, we start adding in fund balance money to bolster larger projects that need to be completed while keeping the amount to be raised by taxes down.

The third goal of mine is to really enhance communication by creating a monthly newsletter from the town supervisor to communicate what we are working on at the town hall, upcoming events, construction and project updates. This communication would be available not only on Nextdoor Keene, but paper copies, email list and our website. In meetings I would like to add reports of town officers to give all departments a chance to relay data out to the public along with reports of committees to give updates on current committees that are meeting.

I would also like to make sure that you know that I plan to continue to support current projects that are happening and do everything I can in my power to keep them on track and help as much as the town can to make sure they are successful. For example, the Little Peaks project, housing authority projects, AARP age friendly community status, and the all strategic plan efforts. My accountability and follow through is excellent and I would not lose momentum on those projects.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: I think the biggest problem in the town is the answer that our town is small and that we have a small budget so we cannot afford to get anything done. I believe this is a misinterpretation and with creative thinking, really knowing the numbers, digging into revenue streams and breaking down allocation spending that we could re-work the hamster wheel of spending in which the town is currently on.

The second issue in which I believe ties into the first issue is lack of maintenance and pride in our community services and facilities. Every building and space the town of Keene owns are almost to the point of no return. Many buildings with chipping paint, brush growing up, broken bathrooms, unsafe sidewalks and parking areas and overgrown parks. These are items that are not that expensive to resolve but need leadership and accountability to the teams to make sure they know when and what needs to be done. We also need to put together four year plans for infrastructure updates on water systems with planned funding and detailed rate structures so that families can plan financially.

As a town, I also think we could also improve services such as codes, transfer station, assessor services, and youth commission programs, by really breaking down the problems and coming up with working solutions with feedback from the residents of Keene.

The third issue is one I mentioned above, and it’s transparency and communication. We as a community need to know what’s going on, when it’s going on and how we can be a part of a solution. To create a community of support, and positive change people like to have clear transparency and I believe this involves much more than just meeting minutes. I think this needs to come from monthly or weekly newsletters, emergency or urgent alert systems, town calendars, email groups, updates from county meetings and follow up on things that were discussed in the past, we call that closing the loop in the corporate world. I see the town supervisor as a position of servant leadership that creates a sense of community.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I hope that you will elect me this November to lead our town into a future of success, where we can break out of a cycle, where I can serve you as a leader and you can live, work, play and grow here in Keene. I am here to support, listen and work hard for the town of Keene on a town, county and state level. I appreciate your vote.

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Joe Pete Wilson

Age: 57

Occupation: Town supervisor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I have served in this position for the past four years. I feel like we have accomplished a lot, but there are still more challenges because we face tremendous growth pressures. Keene is my home and I want to help our community navigate these pressures with the best possible outcomes.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have served as supervisor for the past four years. Before this, I served on the school board for Keene Central School District, and after Hurricane Irene I was a cleanup volunteer and served on the New York Rising Committee to develop a rebuilding plan for Keene.

When I took office in 2017, hiker parking in the hamlet of Keene had a major impact on safety and quality of life for residents. Regularly, Adirondack and Market streets were clogged with parked cars and residents could not get in or out of their driveways. The most effective solutions to fix this have been “No Parking” signs, Front Country Stewards at the Garden and Marcy Field to direct hikers, and lots of education via social media and the press. These have led to significant improvements on the problem.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: My main goal is to continue to have a balanced budget while delivering the services our residents rely on. The newly adopted town of Keene strategic plan outlines steps the town should take to address housing, recreation, childcare, seniors and healthcare, and short term rentals. I have been committed to the process of developing the plan and now want to follow through on implementing the ideas developed by our community. For example, the market for recycling and trash has changed greatly since 2018 and we are trying to adapt to the new realities and develop an affordable, sustainable plan for operating our transfer station.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: The major issues facing the town of Keene are all related to an increase in the number of visitors and residents. The growth in use is managing hiker traffic, managing the two water districts in Keene, and developing a community master plan. We need planning and action to address the growth of short term rentals, like AirBNB, the need for affordable and workforce housing, the need for daycare, and we need to invest in our solid waste and recreation infrastructure.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: Keene is a small town with a small budget to match, but we face growth pressures that demand the resources of a much larger town. If we are going to be successful at keeping the character of Keene, we are going to have to work hard to manage these pressures.

Bob Biesemeyer

In response to a questionnaire from the Enterprise, Biesemeyer wrote:

“I am a lifelong resident of the town of Keene, where I was born in 1947, went to school and then returned in 1985, where my wife Tish and I raised our two children and started and still own and operate two businesses, Adk Building and the Mountain House. I am running for reelection because I feel that by serving on the town board, my experience and knowledge of our community is helpful in contributing to the many decisions facing our board and the town of Keene.

“I feel the three biggest issues facing our town are a shortage of affordable housing. The necessary upgrades and maintenance of infrastructure (landfill, water districts, highways/sidewalks and town owned buildings), and last but not least, trying to fund these with a very limited tax base.

“As to how to address and try and solve these problems, I advocate a two-step process, whereby we continue to work with our strategic planning committees to incorporate some of the ideas that have been forward and incorporate them into our site plan review law while at the same time trying to build support for a change in the way we are presently structured with far more reaching goals.

“Two ideas I feel would make a big difference are assessing forest preserve land at a higher value. Article XIV of the state Constitution gives local assessors the right to assess forest preserve lands. In the case of Keene, forest preserve lands comprise 73% of our town and should be assessed on a highest and best use used basis rather than the system used now where the state assesses them using an archaic method based on stumpage going back to the days when logging was still permitted on these lands.

“Secondly, if schools were funded by income rather than property tax, it would make homeownership more affordable and a much fairer system in that school boards are generally powerless over the many state mandates they are required to comply with.”

Teresa Cheetham-Palen

Age: 54

Occupation: My husband and I run Adirondack Rock and River Lodge.

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I am seeking a second term on the Keene Town Council. I will work to advance the initiatives outlined in the recently adopted strategic plan. I will continue my work on the Age Friendly Community Task Force, Housing Committee, and Short-Term Rental Regulation Task Force, I look forward to working alongside my fellow board members in facilitating the daily life and operations of the town of Keene, without losing sight of our plans for the future.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I have served 12 years on the Keene Central School District Board of Education and one term on the Keene Town Council.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: I want to work to make middle-income housing available for seniors and young families. I want to find new ways to improve existing senior services including recreation and access to health care. I support the housing and childcare project outlined by Little Peaks Preschool and HAPEC (Housing Assistance Program of Essex County). I will work on solutions to make our transfer station safe, accessible, and manageable. We need to find inexpensive ways to repair our aging municipal buildings.

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Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: Access to affordable housing, improving senior services, maintaining aging infrastructure and improving our transfer station operations. I will continue to reach out to experts and area partners to develop cost effective and creative solutions to maintain Keene as a wonderful place to live.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: We are so fortunate to live in Keene. Nestled in the High Peaks, Keene is a beautiful place to live, work and play. But it’s the community of friends and neighbors always willing to volunteer on a variety of levels; from fire and EMS, youth commission coaching, to joining local committees, that makes Keene a truly special place to serve. If reelected, I will be honored to work for this community.

Mary Molly Lawrence

Age: 45

Occupation: Public health educator, Essex County Health Department

Position sought: Town councilor

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I care about the community where I live. I have the skills to collaborate with the board, and community members, in keeping the town fiscally solvent, working and accessible for all residents. It is important to me that ordinary community members, those of us with long family histories here, continue to be able to live in the town of Keene, enjoying the neighborhoods and wilderness that attract visitors.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: Graduate from St. Lawrence University with a long work history in local government, building community partnerships, and collaborating with state and local agencies. I also have owned two small businesses, a delicatessen and a spray foam insulation business. So I understand and identify with the struggles of small business owners in the North Country.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: The first priority for me is maintaining the town fiscally. As previously stated, maintaining municipal services and a community where generations of Keene townspeople can continue to live.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: I think the strategic plan that was adopted this year is appropriate, and I would have voted for it. Affordable housing (for seniors and young families) and concerns with the short term rental market are tied together. Community workgroups are a worthwhile approach. They allow for deep involvement from interested parties and I would be interested in being a board liaison in one or either of these groups.

Short term rentals certainly have a valuable place in the town of Keene. They benefit the local economy and help residents to be able to live here year round. However, I would explore some regulations or zoning to prevent well-known issues associated with unregulated second home markets in other quaint mountain towns. This is not a proposal for added taxes or fees. Homeowners and business owners in New York state pay enough in taxes and fees.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I will not be blanket campaigning door-to-door. It is still a pandemic. Though I am fully vaccinated, I do want to be safe and do not want make anyone uncomfortable. If you would like to meet with me in person, I would be happy to arrange a time to meet. Please reach out to me on Nextdoor Keene, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or you can email me at mlawrence31002@gmail.com.

Chris Daly

Age: 57

Occupation: Retired lawyer

Position sought: Town justice

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: To put my significant legal experience to work for the people of Keene in helping to administer justice in our town.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: I was a practicing lawyer for 30 years, a partner at my former law firm for 20 years and twice elected by my partners to the management committee that ran our law firm. Over the course of my long legal career, I have developed the experience, the judgment and the discretion that qualify me to serve as a town justice.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: To ensure that justice in Keene is administered by an experienced lawyer in accordance with the law and without bias or favor.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: I see two main issues affecting the town court that, if properly addressed, could help the court run more effectively. First, the court needs to be prepared for the more complicated matters coming before it. Town court is not just about speeding tickets. Town justices have significant jurisdiction across a variety of civil and criminal matters and those matters are on the rise in town court. In addition, town ordinances are always expanding. For example, the town is actively considering a short term rental law, violations of which would likely be dealt with in town court. An experienced lawyer serving as town justice will insure that all of these matters are dealt with appropriately. Second, the court should have a clerk. A court clerk is an integral part of every court in our judicial system, including town courts. I would work to ensure that the town court has a court clerk like every other town court in Essex County.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: My wife and I are relative newcomers to town. I have enjoyed meeting many of you around town as I have knocked on doors to introduce myself. I know length of residence is important to many folks, and I understand that, but I ask that you keep an open mind and consider the importance of the experience and the qualifications of the person you elect to serve as a town justice. I also firmly believe in the importance of judges being viewed as truly impartial. That is why I am running as an independent and did not seek a party nomination. The people of Keene should be confident that justice is being administered in town court without any concerns about possible bias or favor. Justice is independent.

Barbara S. Dwyer

Age: 69

Occupation: Certified public accountant

Position sought: Town justice

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: To serve our community in changing times.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: Have been serving (as town justice) since appointed by town board on June 8.

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Q: What are your main goals?

A: Timely processing of actions at the court with justice and compassion.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: N/A

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I have lived in and served the town of Keene for 46 years. I would like this opportunity to continue to serve the town of Keene as town justice. Societal changes are impacting our community and need to be addressed judiciously as the town court level as needed.

Kimberly Ellen Smith

Age: 48

Occupation: Clerk, town clerk’s office, town of Queensbury

Position sought: Town clerk/tax collector

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I am running for the Keene town clerk position in order to continue my career in municipal government. I have the knowledge and experience required to fulfill the duties of the position. Additionally, I am looking forward to meeting the needs of the residents of Keene and Keene Valley.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: In August of 2004, I began my career in municipal government as the records clerk for the town of Queensbury. That position allowed me to learn the records retention and disposition guidelines for towns. I was encouraged to attend seminars and conferences on records management. These trainings allowed me the opportunity to apply for Local Records Management Improvement Fund Grants through the state Department of Education. These awarded grants assisted my efforts in implementing a digital records content management system for Queensbury. This system allows for scanning and indexing of records for ease of retrieval and preservation of the originals.

In December of 2015, I was offered the position of deputy tax receiver and was officially appointed on Jan. 1, 2016. For the past five years, I have assisted with the collection of property taxes (January through March), school district taxes (September through November), and quarterly water and sewer collection (February, May, August, November).

The town of Queensbury consists of over 13,000 parcels and approximately 9,000 water/sewer customers. I am knowledgeable of collection laws, the penalty process of each, and the importance of balancing the warrants. As deputy tax receiver, I am also responsible for reconciling two bank accounts monthly and preparing the monthly supervisor’s report for the utility collections. I have also been the sole person responsible for transferring any unpaid utility account balances to the county to be relevied onto property taxes.

Additionally, our office is cross-trained to do other duties, as needed, within the town clerk’s office. I have experience using the BAS computer system for dog licensing, reporting, and processing of handicap parking permits.

On Sept. 1, I resigned from my appointed position. I am currently working as a part-time clerk three days a week to assist with the current utility re-levy process and to assure that the newly-appointed deputy tax receiver has a smooth transition into her new role. This has also allowed me to familiarize myself with the issuance of state Department of Environmental Conservation hunting and fishing licenses. My coworkers are very supportive of my campaign, and are confident in my abilities to serve as town clerk.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: My goals as Keene town clerk are to take detailed, accurate, non-partisan town board minutes at the meetings. I plan to audio record these meetings and have them accessible to the public for review. Town board minutes become the history of the town for years to come.

In addition to recording meetings, I plan to implement a content management system in which records can be scanned and digitized. This will take time to accomplish, but is well worth the investment for the future. Transparency and ease of records retrieval will be one of my top priorities.

The town clerk position will be my full-time commitment. I intend to offer more office hours to the residents, as deemed necessary. I know it will require dedication and a lot of behind the scenes hours, but I am confident in my ability to do so.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: Being the town clerk will be a continuation of my career. It allows me to incorporate my knowledge and take it one step further. I thank you for your time and consideration, and I am asking for your vote in the upcoming election. If you have any direct questions for me, please contact me via email at adksmith88@yahoo.com, or via text at 518-307-4570.

Anna M.K. Whitney

Age: 53

Occupation: Sales professional

Position sought: Town clerk

Q: Why are you running for this position?

A: I feel this will be my way to give back to the town. I have been fortunate to have served on the Keene Central School District Board of Education for 12 years, served the Keene Fire Department as secretary and treasurer for 10 years and now hope to serve the town.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: Over all my years of work, I have acquired and proven to have strong organizational skills, work well with people, self-disciplined, self-motivated and dedicated. Having access to town clerk training online and the network of town clerks that I work closely with every day I feel I have all the proper tools and skills to perform this position with great success.

Q: What are your main goals?

A: My main goal is to provide great service to the people of our town. I will have an open door policy where the people of Keene and Keene Valley can reach me at any time. If I am not at the town hall, you will be able to reach me via phone or email so I can handle your needs without delay.

Q: What do you think are the three biggest problems in the town, and how do you propose solving them?

A: Running for the town clerk position I find this question unrelated. The town clerk has to maintain records accurately and take meeting notes with no bias.

Q: Other comments to voters?

A: I would be more than happy to personally visit or answer any question you may have just drop me a line or give me a call at 518-837-7137 or whitney0797@gmail.com.



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