Full slate of candidates on the Athens ballot
Raymond Pignone is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media on the Athens candidates in the November general election. Two men are vying for the town supervisor position: Democrat Michael N. Pirrone and Republican Michael J. Ragaini. Pirrone, 73, is a retired business and financial professional with experience in the private, public, governmental and nonprofit sectors. He has never served in elective office before. Pirrone says the most significant issue facing the town is "the amenable negotiation of a full tax value for the Athens Generating facility." If elected, he would seek to "reasonably negotiate with Athens Gen to establish their tax value." He said to establish the full tax value of the facility is the proper course of action to solidify the town's revenue base. Pirrone believes he would be a good supervisor because he fully understands the importance of a hard-working staff, making improvements to town infrastructure, maintaining lines of communication and improving efficiency. He looks forward to getting Athens Gen on the tax rolls at full value, and maintaining the town of Athens offices within the village, if elected. Ragaini was the town's code enforcement officer for18 years, and he is currently a member of the Athens Town Board. He has been a member of the West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company for 50 years and during that time he served as fire commissioner for 40 years. Ragaini worked in conjunction with the Athens Village Board to acquire fire hydrants for the fire district, and designed and built the bandstand in the village park. He said, if elected, his goal would be "to ensure we have an affordable and safe place to live, work and enjoy." Four people are looking to fill two open seats on the town board: Republicans Mary Brandow and Tony Paluch; and, Democrats Phyllis Dinkelacker and Cari Gardner. Incumbent Brandow is seeking her third term. Among her accomplishments: the hiring of a new town attorney, and a new CPA firm that is working with a new bookkeeper to bring a revitalized sense of financial integrity to the town's books and records, according to Brandow. The board also hired a new town assessor and an assessor’s clerk; she is also proud of the current effort to examine the benefits of systemic evaluation as opposed to a full revaluation. If re-elected, Brandow would "remain open to any measures that improves communication and increases the economy and efficiency in all departments." Dinkelacker, 62, has lived in Greene County for 28 years. She is employed by Central Office, Payroll for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and she was an elected member of the Athens Town Board from 2010 to 2013. Dinkelacker said she would like to see the town do more with less. "I’d like to look into shared services. Not only between the town and village, but other towns, counties and state." Gardner, 76, has lived in the county for four years. She is a retired speech teacher, advertising executive, business manager and yoga teacher. "My sense is that many in the town of Athens feel disenfranchised. There needs to be a real effort at making this town much more responsive and transparent," she said. If elected, Gardner would help to establish meaningful legislation to improve land use while protecting trees, wetlands and wildlife. There’s a lot of room for growth in Athens. Athens is blessed with a bounty of farmland that has been nurtured by families for generations. As a community we need to balance that resource while seeking sustainable measures to deal with future climate issues, Gardner said. Paluch owns a small farm in Athens, and is retired from the railroad after 34 years as a welder He has been a resident of Greene County for most of his life. Paluch is an active member of several boards in Athens and Greene County. He formerly served for eight years on the Athens Planning Board. Paluch continues to represent the town of Athens as a member of the Greene County Planning Board. He is also an active member of the West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company and is a long-term fire commissioner of the West Athens-Limestreet Fire District. Read both stories at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.