Jeanne Sager | Democrat
Incumbent Tom Bose is facing an election day challenge from Nancy Lee, in the Town of Callicoon Supervisor's race, this November 5th.
Bose points to tenure of good government
Story by Jeanne Sager
YOUNGSVILLE October 25, 2013 Tom Bose believes local government is the most important form of government there is. Maybe he’s a little biased. After all, the lifelong Youngsville resident has spent nearly 14 years on the Town of Callicoon board, the past four as supervisor.
When he talks to his constituents, the Republican incumbent in the race for town supervisor says what he finds people care most about are their families, followed by their jobs or businesses. The average town resident doesn’t have time to focus on what their local government is doing.
That’s where he comes in.
“People feel the ones who are elected are going to do a good job,” Bose said. “They depend on us. It’s up to the elected officials to do what they were elected to do; to make wise choices for the good of the town.”
And since first joining the town board in 2000 as a councilman, Bose said that’s what he’s always strived to do make choices that were for the best of the town.
That includes the board’s passage of a comprehensive plan this past spring, he said, making a point to counter any claims that the plan is pro-fracking in nature.
“We never that I know of have come out and endorsed fracking,” Bose said. “We haven’t endorsed it and we haven’t banned it. The only thing we approved is a comprehensive plan which is comprehensive, and a small part had to do with industry.”
Bose is also quick to counter any claims that he has signed a natural gas lease or plans to.
“I’m not interested in a lease,” he said simply when asked.
What he is interested in is keeping a tight rein on town spending.
During his tenure as supervisor, he’s seen the worker’s compensation costs to the town more than double in a year, seen a 30 percent hike in the town’s required pay-in to the state retirement system, and seen the cost of fuel rise ever higher. On the other hand, he’s faced the two percent property tax cap that’s kept the town from being able to raise its revenues via taxes to cover the rising costs.
And yet, the town has managed to restore fund balances and take care of its infrastructure without borrowing money.
“We haven’t borrowed; we budget,” Bose said. “A lot of towns can’t say that.”
For Bose it comes down to business sense. He ran his own trucking business before taking over the family farm from father Sonny in 1986, and he uses the same principles that kept him in business to keep the town’s finances afloat, albeit with the added frustration of government red tape, especially that from Albany.
“It’s frustrating,” he said of the unfunded mandates and the time it takes for the town to recoup funds from the state on projects that are refundable. “If your own business was run that way, you couldn’t stay in business.”
But Bose has worked to improve the town’s relationship with state entities, from fostering the relationships with State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther’s offices to working with the DEC and DOT to address flooding concerns in the township.
“We’ve been lucky here with the weather, but we’re not forgetting [flooding],” Bose said, describing projects in Youngsville as well as some between North Branch and Callicoon Center that have been on the agenda this year.
Bose also points to the AT&T cell tower recently built near Youngsville and pressures on Time Warner to improve coverage for residents as quality of life improvements being made in the town.
Because when it comes down to it, the quality of life is what matters to the people of the town, Bose said, and to its elected officials too. Because in local government, those elected officials live there too, their families live there too, and the local government’s choices affect them all.
Lee wants to give the people a voice
Story by Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON CENTER October 25, 2013 Nancy Lee didn’t know she’d run for Town of Callicoon supervisor, not at first.
The Callicoon Center resident just knew she had to run for office because residents weren’t being listened to.
The pivotal moment came in May of 2013, Lee explained, when the Callicoon board passed its comprehensive plan. Just two months prior, the board had announced intentions to create a committee of residents who would review a controversial portion of the plan related to natural gas drilling and other industrial development.
Lee had considered joining the committee, even had a one-on-one meeting with her opponent, incumbent Supervisor Tom Bose, about the intent of the committee. She put her name forth for inclusion.
And then came the announcement from the Town Board that they were scrapping the review committee idea entirely. The board voted to approve the comprehensive plan that very night.
“I’m thinking, ‘What just happened?’” Lee said of that May board meeting.
“It was just very strange,” Lee continued. “I felt betrayed. That’s when I decided I have to run. This is not fair; this is not right.”
Lee is quick to explain that her frustration is not due to the inclusion of fracking-related language in the plan but of the board’s decision not to take community input.
“You need to give people an outlet,” she said of town government. “I have to run just so we the people have a voice.”
Fracking, though a major issue of the times, is not one Lee says is a focus of her campaign.
“At this point, I really don’t feel that fracking is an issue to decide at the town board level,” she explains. “That’s not why I got into the race. I felt like we weren’t being listened to, and the main issue people are concerned about is the economy.”
That’s where Lee feels she can help.
Her platform is about expanding business opportunities in the township, about focusing on issues like improving broadband access for residents and maximizing the town’s website to attract people and business to the township.
A retired teacher she taught special education in the elementary and high schools at the former Jeff-Youngsville Central School and then spent many years as an art teacher in the Fallsburg Central School District Lee grew up in her parents’ Chinese restaurant in New York City, where she played an integral role in keeping the small business running.
After Lee and her husband moved to Callicoon Center 36 years ago, they began growing trees and maintained their own small business a Christmas tree farm for 25 years.
In addition to her small business experience, Lee served as chair of her department at Fallsburg for many years, overseeing not just the curriculum and hiring but budget issues as well.
And both in her job as a teacher and in a previous tenure as a councilwoman on the town board from 1990 to 1993, Lee made a practice of writing grant proposals that brought thousands of dollars to Sullivan County. One Housing and Urban Development grant proposal Lee wrote while on the town board brought $250,000 to the Town of Callicoon, monies used to bring properties in the township up to code. A second grant she helped obtain while on the board set in motion the records management system that is still used today in the town.
“I know how to write and I know how to target the keywords that get you the money,” Lee said of her grants expertise. “I’m really very dogged about doing my research.”
Technically the writer of the aforementioned grants, Lee is more than willing to share the glory with the rest of the board that served back in the early ’90s.
“It wasn’t just me,” she says. “I started with the ideas, but I convinced the board to go along with me.”
Although she is running as a Democrat, Lee said party does not matter when you’re on a town board. Working together does.
“I was the only female and most of them were Republican, but we were not adversaries. It was never party politics when I was on the board; it was what is right for the town?” she said. “Once you get on the board, it doesn’t matter what your politics are. I think the potholes need to be filled and the roads need to be paved.”