Drew Montgomery, Town Council
Why are you running for this office?
My wife and I moved to Pawling in February of 2013, hoping to purchase a home. Like a lot of other towns, the taxes were high, but we discovered PawlingTaxCut.org and were encouraged that residents were working to lower property taxes, although not at the expense of what those taxes provide. We started to attend town, village, and sewer commission meetings to see how our local government was working. Being lifelong Democrats and voters, we were discouraged to find the local elections were decided at the Republican caucus and there were rarely challengers in the general election. Without challenge, it is too easy to become complacent, and we saw many issues being discussed at the board only to come to the same discussion months later without progress. I’d like the Town of Pawling to go in a new direction, looking toward the future and explore ideas I’ve seen working on in other places I’ve lived.
What are your qualifications for the position?
I have a wide variety of experience in my work life. For the forestry department of Vermont, I rebuilt trails and maintained woodlands; at Paragon Sporting Goods, I managed the sales force and day-to-day operations of several departments; for the West Side Y, I worked in Community and Family programs. I was a site manager for renovations in New York City for a residential general contractor. Currently I have a small business producing hand-thrown pottery and teaching classes and workshops. I am familiar with many of the building trades as well as the needs of small businesses, and having been both a renter and a homeowner in Pawling, I know the challenges residents face in Pawling. What I bring to the position is a wide range of experience along with organizational skills and an ability to work with others.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
I would like to see Pawling become a destination for small business, a place of interest for tourists, and a great place to live. We have so many elements already in Pawling to become all these things; we just need a little inspiration and some good planning. My goal is to improve Pawling in ways that help its residents and businesses live and work, especially in having an open process where the public can easily access information about what is being done and how their tax dollars are being used. We can make Pawling a leading community in Dutchess County.
The parks are a long-term project, but there are so many things that can be done while planning and funding a full rebuild. A dog run, Volleyball courts, Badminton courts, horseshoes and so many elements can be added now. I have heard from numerous parents that the summer and teen programs are seriously lacking. I’d like to see those redesigned.
I see the transfer station as an area with huge potential, but instead it is stagnant. It needs a rebuild and restructuring for a better focus on the future. There is talk of closing the intake of yard waste and possibly privatizing. Meanwhile the sewer board is thinking about composting to reduce costs. If the transfer station took in compost and joined with the sewer plant, the yard waste would become a necessary component of the compost. Yard, food, and sewer waste become an asset; the carting fees go down and lower the cost of running the transfer station. Pawling could be making a product rather than paying to get rid of its waste.
What is your educational background?
I went mostly to public schools in Brooklyn growing up, but finished my high school years at Brooklyn Friends, a Quaker K-12 school. I went on to New Paltz State College and majored in Higher Mathematics and Field Biology.
I have been a pottery teacher for 20 years and continue to take workshops.
What else would you like voters to know about you – your family, pastimes, special interests or activities?
On top of commuting to NYC five days a week and attending town and village board meetings, my wife serves on the board of the Pawling Farmers Market. We both enjoy gardening; I do produce, while Betsy does flowers and the decorative aspect. We hike, like boating, and enjoy so much of what the Harlem Valley has to offer.