By Matt Youngfrau
SULLIVAN COUNTY October 21, 2003 District 2 consists of the towns of Highland, Lumberland, and the southern part of Mamakating.
The current representative is Democrat/Conservative Kathleen LaBuda. Running against her is Republican Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci.
Kathleen LaBuda is finishing out her first term as a legislator. Prior to that, she has a long history working with many civic and community service organizations.
I felt I have made a difference, LaBuda said. I want to keep us on the right track. My constituents like me, and I wanted to run again.
One of LaBudas chief concerns is the senior citizens and the youth. She has been advocating to expand programs for them.
I have felt that we need a county youth center in Monticello, commented LaBuda. There would be computers in there for them to do their homework. There would be an ice rink there is no public one in the county. They could also play basketball and other sports. They could come from all districts.
LaBuda, as chair of the Financial Management Committee, worked on keeping the budget steady and tried to avoid tax increases and layoffs, she said. The last year, she moved from Chair of Financial Management to Public Safety.
LaBuda also believes in open government. She wants to see the public have more notice on meetings. They would be publicized so the public could voice their opinions on the issues. Also, they could hold night meetings in various parts of the county.
My district is unique, LaBuda stated. Other towns want development. My towns Highland, Lumberland, Mamakating and Forestburgh want smart growth. It is important to them to preserve the natural beauty.
Two major issues facing county lawmakers right now are the landfill and gaming. LaBuda realizes that the landfill is a complex issue.
It is a health hazard. Personally, I would close it, stated LaBuda. We need to hire an independent consultant and look at it. We have to decide what direction to go in. If I could come up with $5 million tomorrow, I would close it.
As for gaming, if it comes, we need to be prepared, LaBuda said. We are not as prepared as we should be. After three years, we still do not have the correct numbers for the schools. We have to take a better look at the impacts.
As Public Safety Chair, LaBuda has worked hard to get the Fire Training Facility built.
It is a big need in the county, LaBuda remarked. Other counties pay their firefighters. We cant afford to pay them. However, we can make sure the volunteers are well-educated and protected. After all, they risk their lives to protect our residents.
She is married and the mother of four children. Her husband is County Court Judge Frank LaBuda.
John LiGreci has long been involved with government service. He served on the county planning board and the Town of Lumberland Planning Board. He was also a councilman before he was elected Supervisor three years ago.
LiGreci has been a strong advocate to get the laws on tax-exempt lands changed.
I felt that my area, as well as the others, were not represented well by my legislator, LiGreci said. When I started my [tax-exempt] initiative three years ago, my legislator would not help me. I could not accept that.
It is hard to truly represent the needs of the town if you do not attend the board meetings, LiGreci continued. The legislator is there to be the liaison between the county and the town. It would stand to reason that if you do not attend board meetings and find out the concerns, how do you represent the needs?
One of LiGrecis main issues is to help provide tax relief to the citizens of the county.
I feel if I am a legislator, it will give me a better one-two punch to stop the tax exempts and give the people much-needed relief people like senior citizens who are on fixed incomes.
Two major issues facing the county are the landfill and gaming. Neither is easy.
I am against the importation of trash, commented LiGreci. Coming from Staten Island, no one knows better what a devastating effect it can have on the environment. It can be hazardous to peoples health.
However, I would also be responsible to the people not to have real property taxes soar up because of an immediate shutdown. If we stop importation, maybe we can slightly raise the fee in county trash to offset those costs and stop importation. We can then start a gradual shutdown. We would still have to monitor it for 20 years after it is closed, and costs will remain.
As for casinos, we have to make it the best situation possible, LiGreci said. Each casino can bring in up to 5,000 more jobs in the area. The negative part would be for it to go in an area it does not fit. It has to increase property values and enhance jobs. It should make the area stronger.
LiGreci is also cautious when it comes to economic development and the master plan.
It should reflect how development should be, stated LiGreci. The master plan will only protect the towns and the businesses 50 percent. Each town has different needs. We have to have safe, detailed planning regulation.
LiGreci looked toward the future.
The county is experiencing a 10-38 percent growth rate, remarked LiGreci. It has to be done correctly. We have to maintain our beauty. We can have the best of both worlds.
LiGreci lives in Glen Spey. He is married with two children.