Meet the Nelsonville Candidates

Voters also will decide on expanding board

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Bill O’Neill and Alan Potts are running unopposed for two open spots on the three-person Nelsonville Village Board. Each term is two years.

O’Neill is running for mayor to succeed Tom Corless, who was appointed in 2008 and elected four times, and Potts is running to succeed Danielle Pack McCarthy, who served one term. The third trustee, Thomas Robertson, is up for re-election in 2018.

Voters also will decide on Tuesday, March 21, whether to expand the board from three to five members.

Bill O’Neill (Mayor)

Bill O’Neill

O’Neill, who has been chair of the Planning Board for 20 years, is a retired managing director and chief global marketing officer of Standard & Poor’s Corporate Finance. He and his wife Frances moved to Nelsonville in 1979 and have two sons.

In his biographical statement, O’Neill said he and his Planning Board colleagues blocked a condominium complex proposed by a Westchester developer for “the heart of the village.” The village withstood challenges in state and federal court and later allowed approved development of 12 private homes on the site, he wrote.

O’Neill explained that while he “opposed this specific condominium project” he thinks Nelsonville “should not take a doctrinaire position against all development,” which can be “possible, provided it is sensitive to our community’s character and to the environment.”

He holds an undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and an executive MBA degree from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

O’Neill said he wants to see Nelsonville “prosper and evolve in a manner that preserves its identity and character as it welcomes new neighbors” and believes that the village “must be governed efficiently, with active citizen participation, in a way that builds consensus and avoids the needless rancor and gridlock that has plagued other communities.”

Alan Potts (Trustee)

Alan Potts

Alan Potts, a teacher and former Peace Corps volunteer, says he is seeking election as a Nelsonville trustee “to serve my home village.”

Bilingual in Spanish, he teaches science at the Fieldstone Middle School in the North Rockland (County) Central School District.

Potts undertook separate Peace Corps assignments, building schools in rural areas, as a volunteer in Botswana and Kenya. In addition, he travelled extensively and in childhood and young adulthood “moved around quite a bit” before coming to Nelsonville in 2004.

His time in the village is “the longest I have lived” in one place “and I very much consider Nelsonville to be my home,” he wrote in a biographical statement. He and his wife, Kirsti Lattu, live on Main Street.

Potts holds an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and a master’s degree from Columbia University.

He described public service as “as a privilege extended by the residents” to elected officials. “I do not believe that politics should play a role in a village setting as it is less about government and more about stewardship of the affairs of the village.”

Potts also said he has “been a public servant for most of my adult life and look forward to the opportunity to serve my home village as best I can.”

7 thoughts on “Meet the Nelsonville Candidates

  1. I have one big question on the proposal to expand the Nelsonville board: If there are only two candidates coming forward for two seats this year, on top of many, many years of uncontested elections for Nelsonville in general, where would the people to fill the two additional seats come from?

    I fear that an expansion to five members could result in a “shiny new toy” for the local political parties to covet and that is not something that would end well for what has been a drama-free oasis of effective and boring (which is a good thing when our tax dollars are on the table) village government.

  2. You bring up a good point, Mr. Campanile. In fact, I think the incoming Trustee and the remaining Trustee are members of the same men-only social club. Considering how our outgoing trustee was shouted down every time she voiced a dissenting opinion, I wouldn’t expect many from outside this little group to be interested in running. I definitely wouldn’t want to be part of it. Will we have four members of that club representing us in a year’s time? Is that a fair representation of our village?

    Also, I watch every meeting and never once heard of only two trustees being an issue. With the new mayor, a new trustee and an incumbent trustee all stating in interviews that they don’t see tackling the sewer system (something very important to my family) as something on their agenda, why do we need to double the size of our small village government? Shouldn’t we be going the other direction?

    Thank you for bringing this up.

  3. For years, both as a resident (42 years) and village board member (12), I didn’t feel there was anything in it for Nelsonville residents, many of whom had lived there for years, knew its history and hung onto its own uniqueness. Now, I don’t really see the value of holding onto this little enclave, especially since there are mostly relatively new residents. They would be more favorably served be merging with Philipstown. Mr. Campanile raises a good point that there has been so little interest in village government, it has been difficult to get people to run. In the merger, accomodation could be made in issues such as zoning and planning to recognize the unique layout of the village. I see it as an idea whose time has come.

    • So the uniqueness worked when you lived there, but “new” residents do not deserve that benefit. This sounds like typical leftist hypocrisy. I have spoken to many friends in Nelsonville who claim they want no part of the power grab of the Philipstown board and all its bureaucratic committees or anything to do with the vile divisiveness of Cold Spring that delayed a great and worthwhile project like Butterfield for more than a decade.

  4. Kristen Bentley raises interesting points in her March 8 letter. As a candidate for Nelsonville mayor, I have no desire to become a member of a “men’s club.” In fact, if I have mayoral role model, it is Clara Lou Gould, a former Cold Spring resident, who as Beacon Mayor from 1990 to 2007 transformed that community into the shining Beacon it is today.

    It seems to me that characterizing the outgoing trustee as in retreat is frankly demeaning. I always respected her opinions and contributions. I strongly believe gender has no role as a determinant in the selection of a candidate. But, I will admit that my support for expanding the board contemplated the opportunity to gain greater diversity on the board. I urge that the women of Nelsonville support an expanded board and, as important, run for office.

    Finally, Bentsen addresses the 800-pound gorilla — the sewer system. In my discussions with village voters and the trustees, I have said it is an issue we need to address. But there is no consensus on this issue and we need to get the facts and options before this community to make a well-informed decision for our future.

  5. In the interest of public awareness and total transparency, I have decided to comment on the preceding messages in as much as I believe there has been a miscommunication regarding my position on consolidation and the sewer situation.

    As a resident, voter and taxpayer of the Village of Nelsonville, my position on consolidation and sewers is that I believe the residents should be presented with clear facts, pros and cons, and fiscal analyses surrounding such issues. After such presentation, the issues should be presented to the voters for their approval or disapproval. As a candidate for Trustee of Nelsonville, I have clearly stated that I view the position less as government and more as a stewardship of village affairs that is subject to the will of the residents.

    In regard to increasing the size of the village board, I would like to remind all that the issue is on the March 21 ballot. One would speculate that if approved, some of the
    “aye-sayers” might be willing to offer their time toward the endeavor.

    As a side note, I view candid and civil discussion of the issues (like these) as a hallmark of our democracy. Thanks to all for expressing their views.

    • Well-stated and this is how it should be handled — without the “Trumpian” name-calling and vitriol. An opinion is an opinion and flushing into political “sewers” does not advance the discourse. But, then, some think they take ownership, and all opinions but their own are “typical leftist” something. Leave these matters to the residents as we tried several times in the past.