Democrat Photo | D. Hust | Contributed Photo
REPUBLICAN DAVID APPEL, left, is taking on Incumbent Tony Cellini, a Democrat, for the Town of Thompson Supervisory Position.
Appel Challenges Cellini Second Time
Appel Running For Sake of Opposition
By Dan Hust
ROCK HILL October 19, 2007 David Appel knows the odds are against him.
The Republican candidate for Town of Thompson Supervisor is facing an incumbent Democratic opponent who’s served in local political office almost continuously since 1974.
Appel lost to Tony Cellini once already in 2005, running on the Independence ticket rather than the GOP’s.
He’s lost two Thompson Councilman races as well once as a Republican, another with the Independence Party.
And this time, the 69-year-old Rock Hill resident doesn’t even have the endorsement of the Thompson Republican Party because, as he states, “they didn’t want to put up a candidate against Cellini.”
But letting someone run without any opposition just doesn’t fly with Appel.
“I don’t wish him any bad luck,” Appel says of Cellini, “but I feel I can do a better job.”
He acknowledges that Cellini has done some good for Thompson, “but I think once in a while… he gets out of line with his power.”
Appel complains that he and others have been unduly harassed by town officials selectively enforcing building codes and other town laws, and he sees Cellini too often being perceived as Thompson’s lord and master.
But with the supervisor’s recent surgery for a serious intestinal blockage, Appel is all too aware that Cellini may get “a major sympathy vote.”
Then again, “a lot of people know me,” he says, “and I do have a good base of people.”
Most of those people got to know Appel through either his 37-year-old tax consulting business on Rock Hill Drive (he’s been an accountant for nearly 50 years) or his 20-year-old wholesale and retail farm stand along Katrina Falls Road.
Brooklyn-born and raised, Appel’s parents had a home in Masten Lake, and he moved up permanently in 1961, marrying wife Donalette eight years later and raising two sons, Douglas and Donald, at their home of 33 years in Rock Hill.
Prior to beginning a family, Appel spent six months as an engineer in the Army Reserves at Fort Dix, NJ, remaining on call for the next six years.
Both his sons became well-known Catskill Cougars players, and Douglas joined mom and dad in running the family businesses. (Donald remains in the area, too, working for Vista Development in Monticello.)
Appel himself enjoys baseball, having been an active Little League and Babe Ruth League coach and manager.
He also volunteered for 10 years with the Rock Hill Fire Department and is the author of a self-published joke book called “Easing the Pain.” It’s a compilation of all the funny things he’s heard in his years as an accountant and merchant, and he wants to put that experience to use as a politician, too.
“Monticello has got 18 empty stores on Broadway,” he points out. “We have to bring businesses back into town.
“…We need to get people to come off the highway and buy our wares,” he continues, advocating for town-owned billboards along Route 17 to draw visitors in.
He’s also in favor of at least one casino and the rebuilding of the Concord to help bolster a sagging tax base and offer jobs.
“If you’re not a schoolteacher, prison guard or work in the hospitals, there’s really nothing else here,” he laments. “If people have steady jobs, they’re going to buy houses.”
For Appel, becoming supervisor is a chance to unite his love of his home township with his skills at accounting.
“I’m good with numbers,” he says. “I should be able to work with the town board to keep taxes down.”
Veteran Politician Has Much Left to Do
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Tony Cellini needs no introduction.
In fact, for at least a few Town of Thompson residents, seeing the name “Anthony” before his well-known last name actually inhibits the usual instant recognition.
For a variety of reasons, Cellini is the one supervisor everybody knows. (Just try asking a typical Sullivan County resident who the supervisor is in their town, and you’ll quickly get the picture.)
And he plans on keeping it that way.
“I think there are a few loose ends I’d like to tie up,” the 66-year-old Sackett Lake resident said.
In particular, he’s talking about overseeing development new homes, new hotels, new businesses, maybe even a casino or two.
“We have to be real careful,” he said, advocating for controlled growth in Sullivan County’s most populous township.
So Cellini’s running once again for the position he’s held since 1993, planning to extend a political career that started as a Thompson Councilman in 1974.
He’s running against Republican challenger David Appel on the Democratic and Conservative lines, having been endorsed by the Hudson Valley Building and Trades Council plus the following Democrats: U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey, and NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
He’s expecting more endorsements, based on a record that includes bringing retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart to Monticello, paving the way for the Drive and Race Club to turn the old Monticello Airport into a high-end racing country club, selling Holiday Mountain Ski Area to people who not only have maintained it but expanded upon it, and earmarking more than $200,000 of money generated by Monticello Gaming and Raceway for the town’s Highway Department.
Two of his proudest achievements are keeping taxes down and employing a top-notch crew.
“We’re being really frugal without cutting services,” he said of a tax rate that’s under $4 per $1,000 of assessed value the lowest, he estimated, in the Hudson Valley.
“And our turnover is like nonexistent,” he added. “We have a real good team effort.”
He’s counting on that team to help him tie up those “loose ends,” should he be re-elected.
“I’d like to build a youth center,” he said of a myriad of plans that include attracting housing for working families, expanding the business base, seeing Broadway redone, working out an assessment agreement with Swinging Bridge Reservoir owner Alliance Energy Renewables, completing an energy audit of town facilities, and paying planning board and zoning board of appeals members $50 for every meeting they attend (each board has five members and two alternates).
But lest people think he’s just interested in spending money, Cellini is adamant:
“More services should be consolidated,” he said, advocating in particular for merging the Village of Monticello into the Town of Thompson. “We have too much government for too few people.”
He’s seen what the area once was and could be again.
“I came here in 1961 as the manager of a chain store… on Broadway,” Cellini recalled. “I saw what this community used to be like. We were noted as the hospitality capital of the Northeast.”
Now, he remarked with irony, more people know about Woodstock than Monticello. And while he’s happy Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is bringing people through the Town of Thompson and Village of Monticello, Cellini wants to do more than watch the parade pass him by.
After all, this is the township and village that inundated him with cards, letters and phone calls of good wishes when the supervisor spent four months in the hospital this summer thanks to a life-threatening intestinal blockage.
It’s also the place that nurtured his sons Christopher and Todd now a teacher at Fallsburg Central School and an administrator at Sullivan County Community College, respectively and provided an outlet for wife Linda’s creative and philanthropic energies (she was the executive director of the Sullivan County United Way fro 17 years).
In short, it’s home.
“And we have to bring this place back,” he insisted.