Philipstown Forum Brings the Town Out
Just about everybody who is anybody in Philipstown showed up at the Haldane School cafeteria on Monday night for a standing-room-only, no-holds-barred, pre-election event that had all the color and entertainment value of a Broadway show, minus the orchestra.
The evening opened with some lovely singing, however, and the occasional tap dance punctuated the spirited debate between candidates for Philipstown Supervisor and Town Council.
On hand were incumbent Supervisor Richard Shea, a Democrat, and incumbent council members Nancy Montgomery (D) and Barbara Scuccimarra (R). Also on the dais were challengers Lee Erickson (R) for Supervisor, and Democrat David Merandy and Republican Katie Giachinta DeMarco, for the Town Council.
After VFW leader Phil Schatzle led the Pledge of Allegiance and Haldane Senior Liz Richter sang The National Anthem, The PCN&R’s publisher, Elizabeth Ailes, welcomed the crowd of about 175 people, and introduced Editor-In-Chief and Associate Publisher, Douglas Cunningham, who moderated the evening’s activities.
Reporters Annie Chesnut, Lois Powers, and Catherine Garnsey provided questions for all of the candidates in a strictly timed format that allowed candidates to respond to a given question and then rebut their opponents’ responses. Haldane senior Matt Hughes provided timekeeping for the event.
After opening statements by all of the participants the evening began in earnest. Questions touched on current and long-term issues including dirt roads and the Highway Department, zoning and the Historic Preservation Overlay, emergency responders and the so-called “Graner Report,” athletic fields, and issues with the conduct of the campaigns to date.
In his opening remarks, Shea focused on his record of accomplishments, including budget cutting efforts, a new zoning law, and the preservation of clean water and open space. Erickson referenced Shea’s alleged top-down management style, including the nickname “King Richard” that has sprung up in some circles, and said he would offer a grass-roots, bottom-up approach to governing.
Throughout the evening there was some lively interplay between the audience and the front of the room—loud applause in support of various candidates, including some whooping and hollering—as well as some raucous heckling at one point.
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