On Tuesday, October 24, the community gathered in the Pawling Middle School cafeteria for the first ever Meet the Candidates Night. Sponsored by Pawling Public Radio (WPWL) and hosted by The League of Women Voters, the event provided residents with a forum to address questions and concerns with candidates at the village, town, and county level. A crowd of over fifty attendants gathered for the event, including numerous local officials and students from Pawling High School.
Attendants were given the opportunity to submit questions for the candidates, which were asked by moderator Dare Thompson, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State. Candidates took the stage together, with each being afforded equal time for opening statements, responses to audience inquiries, and closing remarks.
The evening’s events began with the candidates for Pawling Highway Supervisor, Jay Dickinson and incumbent John Daley. The two men addressed matters of municipal budget spending, payroll for highway department employees, and public concern about the maintenance of the 51 miles of roads in the Town of Pawling. The candidates also spoke about the use of capital funds for the Transfer Station, as well as the possibility of instituting a “per bag” facility fee at the station in the future.
Next, the crowd heard remarks from the candidates for Dutchess County Legislator of District 23. Incumbent John Thomes and his opponent Helen Grosso discussed numerous issues, including sales taxes for small businesses, managing the district budget, and shared service initiatives throughout the area. The candidates also addressed the ongoing opioid epidemic in America, and what can be done to combat the problem at the county level.
Later, candidates Drew Montgomery and James “Jimbo” McCarthy addressed questions from the audience regarding the race for a seat on the Pawling Town Board. The two discussed plans for future improvements to Lakeside Park, methods for bringing more small businesses to Pawling, and ideas to further increase youth involvement at the recreation department. Also discussed were the issues of possible consolidation of the Town and Village governments and the ongoing debate regarding lifetime health benefits for Town Board members.
Finally, following the question and answer portion of the evening, the audience was given an opportunity to hear from several other local officials who are running unopposed for re-election. Village Mayor Robert Liffland, Village Trustees Earl Slocum and Lauri Taylor, Town Tax Collector Barbara Tyson, and Town Clerk Cathy Giordano all thanked voters for their continued support.
At the close of the event, Meet the Candidates Night was deemed a success by the WPWL team as an important public forum supported by strong interest from the community in the future of Pawling. “This was a very educational program,” said Carol-lee Kantor, a Trustee at Pawling Public Radio and host of Community Focus. “I really think this was so important to get everyone together to meet their government here in town.” Organizers were also pleased by the professional tone and conduct of everyone who participated in the forum. “This was very positive,” said Vice Chair of WPWL Mike Shustak. “We had a great turnout, and everyone was very respectful of the candidates. They answered some very important questions.”
A video recording of Meet the Candidates Night may be viewed at www.pawlingpublicradio.org.