Elections 2015

Sandy Washburn
Where they stand

As lawn signs posted along our highways proliferate, they remind us that an election looms on November 3, but they tell us very little about the candidates.  Believing in an informed electorate, we are making an effort to talk to the candidates and pass along to our readers what we have gleaned from those meetings.

The County Legislative Race

Amenia, Washington and half of Pleasant Valley are in the 25th legislative district.  Two candidates are running, Tom Hurley (Dem.)  and Sandy Washburn (Rep.).  The incumbent, Mike Kelsey (Rep.) was defeated in a primary. 

Tom Hurley 

Tom Hurley, a life long resident of Millbrook, has been president of the Millbrook School Board for 22 years, an elected position that manages a $28 million dollar budget.  He has entered the race because he figured it was time to become engaged in the bigger picture and serve a larger constituency. 

He attended Lourdes High School and Harpur College of Binghamton University where he majored in political science.  He has served on the Millbrook Central School District School Board for 22 years, was a founder of the Millbrook Educational Foundation where he continues to be active, was a president of the Lions Club was a chair of the Clinton Democrats, is a licensed pilot, and has owned and run a painting and decorating company for 30 years. 

He says one of his assets is knowing a lot of people in and out of government.  He feels at home taking responsibility as a legislator and the county government and its budget.  He stepped up when Mike Kelsey lost the primary race. 

Although technically on different sides of the aisle, he says Kelsey was, in many ways, an admirable legislator.  However, he thinks the jail probably needs new brick and mortar but he also recognizes that the County has to do more in the area of mental health.  He considers the jail a non-partisan issue.  He says his is a “pragmatic approach.”  He is aware of the connection beween jails, schools and problem kids.

In looking at what the county legislature does, he mentioned that Dutchess County Community College is getting more applicants from our high schools as climbing tuitions have put four year colleges beyond the reach of more and more families.  Therefore, our community college “deserves more support as it is the only  opportunity to get a college education for many of our families.”

In terms of policy initiatives, Hurley spoke of preserving our cultural and scenic resources as fundamental for building a tourist industry that has the capacity to grow and create jobs and build economic development.

He also mentioned that 85 per cent of Poughkeepsie City school children live in families under the poverty line a condition meriting the attention of the Industrial Development agency and other agencies of government.           

Hurley calls himself “a very broad-minded Democrat” willing to work with all legislators on the issues, including, he said, balancing the budget, an exercise subject he spent many years overseeing as president of a the school board.  His parting words were “He looks forward to working with Republicans.”

Sandy Washburn

Sandy Washburn met us at the Millrook Diner this Saturday, October 24. She had been out campaigning and took a break.

She said she is running because the Republican Committee asked her to enter the primary against Mike Kelsey, and to then run for his seat in the legislature.  She added, “Also I have the time, energy and experience to contribute to progress in the county.”

She said she had worked in parks and recreation for 12 years, one and a half years as recreation director of Lagrange where she overseas 5 parks and 50 to 60 employees. 

Sandy attended high school in Jefferson County where her family ran a dairy farm.

She was proud of her years with Future Farmers of America where she learned leadership, to speak in public and to stand on her own two feet.  She attended Dutchess County Community College, majoring in business.  She thinks DCCC is a “quality education.”   She has raised three children.  The youngest is 20 and in the Army.  She has lived in Pleasant Valley for 20 years, in Dutchess for 30.  She has served on Pleasant Valley’s board of assessment review.  

She says she has had experience in working with municipal laws and regulations.  She attends most of the Lagrange town board meeting and makes a monthly report for her department.  She has dealt with budget issues, balancing needs with funds available.  She says she would never lay off an employee, showing loyalty to the people who work for her.  

When asked if she was familiar with the County budget she said she had looked at it.  Did she know how big the budget was?  She said she is still learning about it. (In 2015 it was $441.7 million.)

When asked if she would approve of out-sourcing government functions she said “you mean subcontracting?  Never.  Not if it meant loss of jobs.”

She said she had been out campaigning with Andrew Heaney, a new Millbrook resident with an interest in politics. When asked, she said the biggest issues are the cost of living, job creation and strengthening the economy.  When asked how she would do that she said “I don’t have a specific plan, but would work to bring employers here and make Dutchess affordable for families.”  She would keep taxes “under control.”  She would forge partnerships and share services between the county and the municipalities. 

She said she is still learning when asked if she was familiar with how sharing services would lower taxes and not lay workers off.

She agreed with Mike Kelsey that we need more mental health services and should pay more attention to the special needs population.  She had heard about the County Executive’s program for special needs children but was still reading up on it in the materials that had been sent to her.

She said we should do more for our military and vets, citing the suicide rate of 22 servicemen or vets per day.  “We should make sure they are receiving the services they need.”   The county legislature has a veterans affairs committee.  She would like to be on it. 

When asked if she were in favor of the tax cap she said it is a challenge for every government.  Would she urge its abolition? “I am on a learning curve; it is a new situation, but added “we need to be committed to keeping taxes from skyrocketing.” 

On asking if she knew about fire departments, she said she was familiar with how the budgets are put together, and how the towns have no say in them.  She was a volunteer with the Pleasant Valley FD and member of the fire police.  Asked what they do she said they are responsible for the safety of everyone at a fire scene.  She has also served as an EMT, an emergency medical technician.  She said the fire department “was part of my life."

In closing, she said if elected, she “would be committed to building relationships with the communities in my district and fully educating myself with the necessary information to make strong decisions.

On leaving we noticed a Loop bus just leaving Millbrook.  Did she know why the Loop bus came to Millbrook?  It was near empty and seldom had more than one or two passengers?  Did she know that the County could not supply per mile or per passenger cost analysis? Nor could it supply gas usage.  She said she would look into that.