Gallagher Says He’s Done With Mayor Job

Time to refocus on running his own business

By Kevin E. Foley

Cold Spring Mayor Seth Gallagher told The Paper on Wednesday, Dec. 12, that he is “very likely” not going to be a candidate for re-election come March 2013. “I am not planning on running,” he said when pressed on his intentions. Gallagher has served nearly two two-year terms as mayor and also served as trustee for three years.

The mayor said he thought it was time he paid more attention to his bagpipe-making business after seven years of being preoccupied with local civic issues.

Gallagher said he believed he had accomplished much of what he had set out to do and thought this would be a good time to move back to a more private life.

“The job takes a lot more time than it ever did,” he said, pointing out he received $15,000 annually for a job he said involved 30 hours of work a week. “Do the math,” he said. “And there’s no health insurance. It’s not very attractive from a financial standpoint.”

He quickly emphasized having the job is an honor. And he also warned any potential successor to be prepared to take a principled stand when needed, even if it alienates supporters. “You have to be prepared to take some heat,” he said.

Gallagher referred to the presence of two media operations in town, Paper and the PNCR as another factor in bringing a greater spotlight to issues and intensifying disputes.

“I have confidence in the general wisdom of the people. It’s important to remember that when you’re elected, you are representing all the people in the village, not just the ones who show up at meetings. You have to vote on behalf of all residents even if you take grief from some.”

Gallagher said recent clashes with Board of Trustees members and others, including some previously ardent supporters, over the proposed Butterfield project had no bearing on his apparent decision not to run again.

The mayor took pains to delineate what he believed were his major accomplishments. Among them were:

  • Budget reform bringing the village from a $90,000 deficit to a $180,000 surplus;
  • Finalization of the village Comprehensive Plan;
  • Relining the water main pipes, a project first raised in 1991;
  • Opening the waterfront dock area with boats mooring there for the first time in 20 years, bringing visitors and revenue to the village;
  • Negotiating easement access for the village to make repairs and monitor conditions at the upper dam;
  • Finally getting approval of a long-delayed, federally funded Main Street improvement project.

While Gallagher has not shut the door definitively on running, his announced intention will inevitably set off speculation on other candidates for both mayor and membership on the trustee board.

His potential lame-duck status could also change the dynamics in the tussle over Butterfield in ways not yet clear.

Among the names mentioned by local activists (on a not-for-attribution basis) as potential candidates to fill Gallagher’s seat were Deputy Mayor and Trustee Bruce Campbell (mentioned by Gallagher), Trustee Chuck Hustis, Trustee Matt Francisco, Comprehensive Board Chairman Michael Armstrong, and long-time Gallagher critic Michael Bowman, current president of the Cold Spring Fire Company.

For his part, Armstrong demurred on any personal intentions about running for office. Instead, he said he hoped Gallagher could be persuaded to change his mind and run yet again.

“I think it would be a great loss for the village if he chooses not to run again,” said Armstrong. “I disagree with him on some issues, but I believe he has done a tremendous job. People don’t appreciate the way the job has changed over the years and how we need someone who is up to the task.”

Armstrong said further that the role of mayor involved mastering not only budget, planning and infrastructure issues but also appreciating the need for protecting the village from legal conflicts arising out of various projects. He said he thought Gallagher and Village Attorney Stephen Gaba have “kept the village out of trouble and have protected the village interests.” Armstrong said people should recall lawsuits in the past that “cost the village a great deal of money,” when they are taking positions today that might result in a lawsuit.

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