Participating candidates included Donna Held, a Republican
who is seeking election to the county clerk’s office; Craig Johns and Scott
Ugell, both Republicans and the incumbent town justices, incumbent Town Clerk
Justin Sweet, a Democrat and Town Highway opponents Dennis Malone, a Democrat,
and Wayne Ballard, a Republican and the incumbent. Town council candidates
Democrats Robert Pitkofsky and Stephanie Hausner, the incumbent, and
Republicans George Hoehmann, the incumbent and John Noto also attended along
with town supervisor candidates Alex Gromack the Democratic incumbent and Brian
Moran, the challenger running on the Preserve Rockland line.
Each candidate was allotted two minutes for an introductory statement. Held talked about providing a phone application to make using the county clerk’s office easier for people. She said she would implement a data-mining program to search for date and fraud. Johns and Ugell have served on the bench 20 and 22 years respectively and spoke about court security improvements.
Sweet said the town clerk’s office has average a 20 percent reduction in its budget since he took office in 2010. He said morning and evening office hours have been extended as well as bringing town services to off-site events so people can easily sign up for various types of licenses and other revenue generating items. Sweet said the consolidation of the tax receiver’s office with the town clerk’s office becomes effective in January and will result in the elimination of three fulltime positions and save the town several hundred thousand dollars.
Supervisor candidates Gromack and Moran differed on term limits and debt but appeared to agree that maintaining planning and zoning regulations and enforcing fines and penalties for zoning violations were the best way to prevent overdevelopment from occurring in Clarkstown.
Both said they wanted to keep the same quality of life in Clarkstown for the future during the debate sponsored by “Our Town” newspaper and moderated by Art Aldrich. Moran said legal loopholes need to be closed in zoning and planning laws but did not provide specifics. He said he did not want Clarkstown to experience the overbuilding that has occurred in East Ramapo.
“We all know what’s going on up there,” Moran said. “We all know what happened up there. We can’t tiptoe around the facts. We can’t tiptoe around drive through it you can see what’s going on.”
Gromack said Clarkstown has stringent planning and zoning laws and recently implemented harsher fines and penalties for violators. He said Clarkstown’s $100 debt for bonding for infrastructure upgrades such as drainage improvement and hamlet center revitalization projects is not out of line for a town its size.
“Certainly Standard & Poors has said that we are not nearly at a point where there is any type of jeopardy,” he said.
He said the biggest challenge facing Rockland’s towns is the county of Rockland because the current county executive has been passing along costs to the municipalities. He said it is incumbent upon the town to form a better working relationship with the new county executive who will be elected on November 5th.