While the four candidates seeking election as Clarkstown
council member maintained a civil discourse during Thursday’s debate the tone
of the highway superintendent candidates was decidedly different.
Both incumbent Superintendent Wayne Ballard and challenger and current Highway Department Fleet Manager claimed to have saved the town millions of dollars. They differed over the skills needed to run the department.
“I firmly believe that practical experience is all you need to be highway superintendent,” said Malone, who is running on the Democratic and Preserve Rockland lines.
Ballard, who has been in the position for 16 years, said, “My engineering skills have proven to be very beneficial to the town.”
When Malone claimed the town was overpaying for parts and repair services Ballard said the purchasing department handles all the purchases. They disagreed over one of the department’s most expensive pieces of equipment, the Menzi Muck, which cleans out culverts. Malone said $78,000 had been spent to repair it and it was not operational and Ballard countered that the Menzi Muck had been fixed and would be working on a project on Friday.
Ballard confirmed today that the specialized piece of equipment was cleaning out a stream off West Street in West Nyack.
The candidates also brought up the lawsuit, which Ballard filed against the town opposing the consolidation of the town garages and authorizing Malone as the fleet manager to report to the town board and not the highway superintendent. Ballard said he took the action because it was ludicrous that as superintendent he did not have control over the department’s vehicles.
Malone claimed Ballard’s hiring of Frank Sparaco as a part-time constituent services representative was a pure political move designed to get him on additional party lines. Ballard, who is running on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Working Families lines, defended the hiring and said Sparaco “has been a great asset to me.”
The council candidates, incumbents Stephanie Hausner and George Hoehmann and challengers John Noto and Robert Pitkofsky split on party lines concerning term limits. Republicans Hoehmann and Noto expressed support for term limits. Democrats Hausner and Pitkofsky said electoral reform were more urgently needed and that elections take the place of imposed term limits because the voters make the choice about who to elect.
Noto said term limits would allow government officials to focus on policy and not campaigning and said it would prevent situations where several political parties collude and run one candidate.
They also answered questions about overdevelopment and urbanization. Hausner said the town invested in smart zoning and has conducted several highway corridor surveys to determine the right mix of development for different parts of the town.
Hoehmann said Clarkstown has a comprehensive land use plan in place. Pitkofsky and Noto concurred that the town has strong zoning codes.
The debate, which also included town superintendent, justice and clerk and county clerk candidates, was sponsored by Our Town newspaper.