John “Jay” Dickinson, Town Highway Superintendent
Why are you running for this office?
The Town of Pawling Highway Department needs a leader who will put road safety for our town residents, as well as employee safety, first. I believe our highway department needs a leader who is willing to be out on our roads and who is able to work side by side with the road crew. I have the experience, skills, and mindset that make me an outstanding candidate for highway superintendent.
What are your qualifications for the position?
I joined our highway department in 1988; during my 29-year tenure I have held various positions, with increasing responsibilities due to my work ethic and expanding knowledge base. I started out as a laborer/truck driver. Next, I became a heavy equipment operator. I have the skills needed to operate all the heavy equipment. In 1999, I became the foreman of the road crew. I am a foreman who leads by example and works along with the crew. In addition to being foreman, I was appointed deputy highway superintendent in 2006 and served in this capacity until the position was abolished by the current administration.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
There are several areas that I would like to see positive changes for our residents. One area where I would like to see change is in road maintenance and repair. I would like to get back to the basics: cutting down dead trees that are a safety hazard and trim trees that are impeding the roadways. Also, I believe removing excess dirt from the sides of the roads allows road water to drain instead of causing puddling and ice in the winter months. The regular installation/replacement of drainage pipes and catch basins would go a long way in reducing water issues that undermine and erode our roads. Consistent maintenance and upkeep of gravel/dirt roads will alleviate the need for additional money spent on materials due to road surfaces that are neglected. These basics of road maintenance are a more effective use of our time and equipment and do not increase the cost.
For reconstruction of roads, I would like to use asphalt rather than some of the products that have been used in the past few years on our roads. Asphalt is stronger and provides better wear surface that has a longer life span. More importantly, proper road preparation needs to be part of the process when reconstructing our roadways. Preparation needs to include installation/replacement drainage and trimming trees so our roads remain safe and durable for years of use.
Our department needs to update our aging fleet. I would develop a vehicle-replacement plan that allows for scheduled replacement of our plow trucks that is fiscally sound for the taxpayers.
I plan on establishing a good working relationship with the village highway, county highway, and surrounding towns’ highway departments. These relationships will help alleviate duplication of services as well as create a cost savings for all.
I am well aware the issues and concerns many of our local residents have regarding the transfer station. I plan to establish a rapport with our town board to arrive at solutions that allow our transfer station to provide efficient and beneficial services for our residents.
What is your educational background?
After graduating from our local high school, I served in the United States Army. My experience in the army included auditing inventory, keeping supplies stocked in our motor pool, and maintaining records for this department. Since my employment at the highway department, I have completed courses associated with roads and effective leadership training. Some of the courses for roadways include: Basics for Good Roads, Roadway and Roadside Drainage, Asphalt Paving Principles, Surveying Methods for Local Highway Departments, Work Zone Traffic Control, and Road Safety Fundamentals. Some of the courses in the area of leadership training are: Small Highway Management and Effective Communication Skills. Lastly, I hold an Erosion and Sediment Control Certificate.
What else would you like voters to know about you – your family, pastimes, special interests or activities?
I am a lifelong resident of Pawling. Over the years, I have been an active volunteer in our town. Currently, I am a 10-year member of the Pawling Volunteer Fire Department, becoming a second-generation member, as my father was a fireman and my mother a member of the Pawling’s Ladies Auxiliary. I am a member of the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association. I am currently the Vice-Commander for the American Legion. Also, I have been a Little League Coach. My wife, Mimi, and I have raised our four children in Pawling.
I take great pride in our community, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve as Pawling’s next Highway Superintendent.