Four candidates in race for Claverack Town Board
Melanie Lekocevic is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media on the four-way race for two seats on the Claverack town council between Republicans Douglas Colwell and Stephen “Hookie” Hook on the Republican and Conservative lines, and Brenda Shufelt and Brian Yorck, on the Democratic and Working Families lines. Colwelll, 48, is a native of Columbia County, and a retired New York State Trooper. He sees affordable housing, "especially for our young families trying to establish themselves and our seniors who deserve to remain in their community that they help build." Colwell says if elected, he would seek out builders and encourage them to invest in Claverack. The development he envisions could include townhouses, small homes in a cul de sac setting and/or apartments offering multiple sizes. He believes his "problem-solving, organizational and planning skills..." have prepared him to work for the people of Claverack. "This is my first run for public office and if elected I would not only work to encourage affordable home development ..., I would grow Claverack’s youth and senior programs. ...I would work hard to continue to keep taxes down in Claverack so our families can continue to stay in our community." Town board incumbent Hook, 68, has lived in the county since 1986. He says, "the cost of living has made it very difficult if not impossible for local kids to buy homes and raise families here. It’s not just Claverack, it’s the entire county and beyond. It’s taking its toll on our community." Businesses find it difficult to fill vacancies as the workforce becomes more and more depleted, Hook noted. As a member of the town board his priority has been to keep spending in check and keep taxes as low as possible. The town budgets during his tenure have cut taxes for five years in a row. "I believe my years of experience serving as town councilman and deputy town supervisor, coupled with my years of management experience working for Columbia County, make me uniquely qualified for this position," Hook said. Shufelt, 60, was born and raised in the county and has lived in Claverack for 12 years. She is employed as the history room coordinator at Hudson Area Library. Shufelt sees the general lack of opportunities for residents — to work, to own a business or build a home, as the major challenge for Claverack today. "Our town board needs to address this issue by getting resident input, planning smartly, and seeking federal and state funding as well as public/private partnerships. This will help build the infrastructure to develop our economy and provide opportunities for affordable housing," she said. "I am running ... because I know there is so much more our government can do to meet the needs of our residents. I know the importance of working together." If elected, Shufelt hopes to work with other local governments and organizations to make broadband accessible for all, to develop affordable housing for seniors and young people, and encourage economic opportunities that will translate into jobs. Yorck, 66, has lived in the county for his entire life and is a retired administrator. He previously served as an Ancram town justice for eight years. Yorck wants to see the town's 2008 comprehensive plan, which, he believes, represents the issues and concerns of Claverack residents, receive further attention. "It can be a working guide toward addressing jobs, the environment, housing, broadband, traffic and housing needs," he said. If elected, he would revisit that document, listen to the needs expressed by the people and work to develop a board that works for everyone. Yorck said his experience in human resources, his service as a town justice and the years he served the New York State’s Emergency Management Office would make him a good town board member. If elected, he intends to promote clear and open communication between the town board and the town’s citizens. Read the full story at MidHudsonNews [dot] com.