Letters: Nelsonville Election

I want to express my support for Chris Caccamise for mayor and Dove Pedlosky and Lisa Mechaley for trustees in the March 19 election in the Village of Nelsonville.

I feel it is time for change in the direction and governance of our small village. Chris has already done outstanding work on the environmental needs for the village, and has shown his concern for our future. Dove and Lisa are campaigning on an open platform to listen to residents’ needs, to protect our quality of life, and take a collaborative posture toward our neighbors in the rest of Philipstown.

I worked closely with them on the effort to keep the ugly cell towers out of our community and was impressed by their knowledge, passion and hard work. I urge you to meet with all three of them and to listen to their ideas for a better Nelsonville for all of us.

Katharine Plummer, Nelsonville

Not being a resident of Nelsonville, I don’t know much about the issues that the village is facing. What I do know is that Mayor Bill O’Neill is a high-quality individual who brings character, honor and trust to any activity he engages in.

I have known Bill and his wife Frances since 2001. We have worked together on community affairs going back to the early days of the comprehensive planning process for Philipstown. In working with Bill, I came to know that he is analytical and thorough in his approach to understanding the issues; that he is thoughtful and balanced in considering all aspects of the situation; that he has no “pro” or “anti” bias that influences his position and that he has an inclusive nature in working with others and is supportive of any effort that seeks to raise the quality of life we enjoy in this area.

In fact, within the last several weeks, he was quick to bring a resolution pledging support for Philipstown’s application for a Hudson River Greenway Grant to update its comprehensive plan before the Village Board for consideration. I’m proud to know Bill and commend him for his willingness to serve the public with distinction and dedication.

Nat Prentice, Garrison

As a civil engineer, I participate in and watch a lot of public processes. The best are run by leaders who listen to their constituents and treat them as folks who can offer valuable insight as well as be willing to find the “middle way.”

In my limited experience with Nelsonville’s public process, this has not been the case. And that means that the public has felt left out and in the dark on important decisions. In a village the size of Nelsonville, that’s not acceptable.

We all deserve and have the right to know what’s being done on our behalf by our mayor and trustees, and we all deserve to be heard. It’s time for a fresh start. I’ll be voting for Caccamise for mayor and Pedlosky and Mechaley for trustees.

Let’s stand together to insure our unique 1-square-mile community is protected and remains special to our friends, neighbors, families and visitors.

Daniel Morales, Nelsonville

I am writing to endorse Dove Pedlosky for Nelsonville trustee. Dove is a strong advocate for Nelsonville. I got to know Dove well while we worked endless hours together fighting the construction of a cell tower over our historic cemetery. We spent months working through nights and weekends to defend the unique beauty of our town. Dove was always the first to volunteer her time, and her dedication to our fight was unwavering. I have no doubt that this village would be looking at a 210-foot tower in our historic cemetery if it weren’t for Dove’s contribution.

In her passion for protecting the beauty of Nelsonville, she discovered legal protections for our area that, with her on the board, will help to preserve our village for generations to come. Dove is a relentless researcher and she is unafraid to expose the truth of what is really happening behind the tower company’s dubious claims and false promises. Nelsonville would be lucky to have Dove as a trustee, her love for our village and her commitment to its preservation is unstoppable.

Eliza Nagel, Nelsonville

I would like to add my voice in support of Chris Caccamise for mayor and Dove Pedlosky and Lisa Mechaley for trustees of Nelsonville. I have talked with all of them, and have been impressed with their solid grasp of the issues facing Nelsonville and their positive approach to addressing them. I know them to be smart, hard-working individuals who treasure Nelsonville’s unique character and will do all they can to protect it.

I also know that they listen and take other people’s viewpoints into consideration, and I trust them to seek input on matters that affect the whole Village. They respect their neighbors, and I respect them immensely for stepping up to do the hard work of managing a tiny village with many challenges.

David Limburg, Nelsonville

Nelsonville is a remarkable village, with more history and beauty in one square mile than most places in America. My husband and I feel so fortunate to have settled in this special spot. I’m running for Trustee to preserve this character and to see that Nelsonville continues as a vibrant community for generations to come.

Chris, Lisa, and I are running to restore decency to the political process here in Nelsonville. The three of us are ready to work hard and cooperatively for — and with — every Nelsonville resident. We are disappointed that Mayor Bill O’Neill chose to run his re-election campaign in such a divisive and mean-spirited way. Nelsonville needs thoughtful, smart, reasonable folks to come together at a table, listen to each other and to the public, and get the work of our community done efficiently and respectfully.

My introduction to local politics came after learning that a cell tower company had selected our tiny village as the site of a massive tower. To defend Nelsonville, we established the Philipstown Cell Solutions six-person task force. We worked nights and weekends building a comprehensive record to counter Homeland Towers’ application. We pored over case law and FCC dockets, collaborated with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other experts, hired an independent engineer with our own funds, retained legal counsel, spoke at every meeting and responded to every report submitted by Homeland. We loved every minute we spent fighting for Nelsonville. I will bring this same passion to the position of Village Trustee.

Cell towers are only one issue facing Nelsonville. We have major challenges around infrastructure (including water and sewer), economic development, parking and traffic. As an avid researcher, I’m particularly excited to help draft a new comprehensive plan, which has not been updated in 30 years. I’m eager to take on these challenges, and I have the skills to do so effectively. I work in higher education, where I’m involved in everything from fundraising and grant writing to managing programs with multiple teams and many moving parts. I make sure that complex projects get done on time and on budget. I ask good questions, I listen to my colleagues, and I take on my share of hard work. A Village Trustee needs to do all of these things.

On March 19, I ask you to choose a different path for Nelsonville politics — to reject anger and distrust in favor of hard work and common purpose. While we can’t guarantee perfect outcomes to every problem, Chris, Lisa, and I do promise to listen to you, to take your concerns seriously, and to work alongside you in finding creative solutions. It would be our great honor to serve our Nelsonville neighbors.

Dove Pedlosky, Nelsonville

Twenty-five years ago I was a very young lady working at a pre-eminent organization in the notoriously misogynistic financial services industry in London. I was driven and idealistic and considered myself equal to the men. But my early career experience was abominable. In a quagmire of sexism, I had to bat away sexual affronts of both colleagues and clients. Women who objected to this awful behavior were treated as trouble makers and ridiculed.

I managed to find projects where I could work with my colleagues in New York and realized this was an opportunity for me to gain appreciation and traction in my career. Bill O’Neill spotted my efforts and offered me an opportunity to work in New York on a temporary assignment. It was a chance to prove myself and I leapt at it. Bill was pioneering a team of women and men in an environment where we were all treated as equals. He listened to us and empowered us with the faith of an engaging and encouraging manager. A self-deprecating boss, Bill was as happy to learn from us as we from him. If he was wrong on an issue, he admitted it. He always led us in an impassioned and inspirational way.

After working a month in New York, I was delighted when Bill told me he wanted me to stay on the New York team and relocate to New York on a permanent assignment. He went to bat for me when my former London colleagues objected and directed the complex arrangements required for a permanent work visa.

I came back to New York and went on to enjoy the most mutually respectful and productive teamwork I have ever experienced. I was invested in, trusted and afforded spectacular opportunities. Bill’s gravitas and ingenuity allowed him to competently navigate and negotiate the ratification of all our progressive plans through the complexities of an evolving and highly regulated corporation He held me accountable for my performance and also me promoted for it. At last I was an equal and it was great. I have countless anecdotes of the generous championing of staff — male, female, minority or majority — by this leader.

I have known my old boss for 25 years and I’ll vouch for him any and every day. I wish I could vote for Bill for mayor of Nelsonville.

Louise Julier, Putnam Valley

Going into this year’s Nelsonville election, I planned to vote but had no expectation of getting actively involved.

That changed in recent weeks as I’ve seen how the mayor carried himself in this campaign, calling his opposing candidates “insurgents” and accusing them of intellectual theft. He painted them as only interested in Secor Street, rather than the entire village.

During more than one of the many public meetings around the cell tower, Mayor O’Neill bemoaned a lack of participation. But when public turnout skyrocketed — the public session at Haldane comes to mind — he berated the crowd for not “joining the cell tower battle” sooner and for not showing up with an outlook that aligned exactly with his own.

The mayor told one of the current candidates last year that she’d be a good candidate for trustee, but once she threw her hat in the ring, he aggressively criticized her qualifications. Her qualifications didn’t change, her willingness to challenge the mayor did.

I want a mayor who will treat fellow candidates and constituents with respect, who will encourage dialogue, and enable participation.

For that reason, I’ll be voting for Christopher Caccamise for mayor. I believe he can get the same results while also welcoming in new levels of public engagement.

However, I do want to acknowledge and thank Mayor O’Neill and Trustee Alan Potts (and former Trustee Robertson) for their consideration of the Secor location during the cell tower deliberations. I think surfacing that location showed good faith considerations by the village toward the applicant and strengthens the Village’s position. At the time, the mayor said he’d take Secor off the table if there was not public support. He has kept his word. (He also recruited and nominated me for the ZBA, for which I’m grateful.)

It’s important to also thank Frances O’Neill, who has a genuine connection to the Cold Spring Cemetery and fought the unsightly cell tower from day one. She is an unflappable partner working alongside her husband in their effort to do what they believe is in the best interest of the Village. No matter how this campaign ends, we should be grateful to both Bill and Frances for great effort they’ve put in over the years on behalf of Nelsonville.

Among the trustee candidates, I have found Dove Pedlosky to be thorough and dedicated, able to keep a cool head and sharp analysis even during some of the most challenging moments in the cell tower deliberations. She encouraged participation and dialogue while standing firm on the facts as she understood them. I’ll be voting for Dove to fill Chris’s vacancy as a Trustee.

I’ve found Alan Potts to be an aboveboard, honest broker and while I don’t believe I know Lisa, I have heard many positive things.

Regardless of who you’re supporting on Tuesday, please be sure to vote. If you can’t make it to Village Hall between noon and 9 p.m. on March 19, you can get an absentee ballot from Mindy Jesek at Village Hall during business hours. You can email her at [email protected] for details.

Chris Keeley, Nelsonville

2 thoughts on “Letters: Nelsonville Election

  1. On behalf of the Village of Nelsonville, I would like to thank Chris Keeley for his outstanding work as a member of our Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). He and the other board members spent a year reaching a conclusion that was a fair, reasonable decision based on our zoning. We may be headed to trial and I believe the Village will win based on our zoning and the clarity of the ZBA’s decision. I am also grateful for his comments about my wife, Frances, and his acknowledgement of her enormous efforts to oppose the Cemetery tower. For these efforts Frances and I are cited in the Homeland suit.

    A few observations: my use of words “insurgent” and “insurgency.” These terms are commonly used in a political context. In the March 8 issue of New York Magazine, author Sarah Jones described Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilham Omar as a “generational insurgency,” seeking to overthrow the status quo in the Democratic Party.

    I stand by my statement that this coalition plagiarized my agenda, claiming it as its own, as well as my statement that they are whispering vile and false things about me. Several friends told me and Frances about this filth. I am sorry my wife had to experience that ugliness which caused such pain.

    When we had two trustee positions open up last year I encouraged Ms. Pedlovsky to run. She has my email to prove it. She turned me down. I never questioned her qualifications. The cause of my change of opinion is obvious. I’m voting for Trustee Potts, a man of integrity, an incomparably better choice. I cannot and will not vote for the other two candidates and I urge my fellow voters to do likewise.

    I do often characterize these candidates as the Secor Street coalition. Both trustee candidates, Ms. Pedlovsky and Ms. Mechaley, live across from the Secor parcel. Reasonable people may disagree but it looks like NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) to me. Trustee Bowman made a similar statement to me: I opposed the Rockledge tower, he said, because I didn’t want it in my backyard. The problem is that, according to the balloon test and photographic evidence, I would not see the tower from my home. And the ZBA made the Rockledge decision, not me or the board.

    Trustee Potts, former Trustee Robertson and I had complete authority to sign a lease with Homeland Towers, avoid litigation and also gain around $50,000 in annual revenue for the Village, a significant amount given our $330,000 annual budget. We didn’t. Instead we chose the democratic way — hold public hearings. We got beaten up pretty good, even heard accusations of collusion with Homeland, which was below the belt. But we listened and withdrew the village-owned Secor property.

    I still bemoan a lack of participation in Village meetings, especially when the lack of participation also includes the two coalition candidates who never attend our monthly board and workshop meetings.

    The respect question still puzzles me. No complaints about me until this campaign started. Does the fact I take offense at the pilfering of my agenda and I defend my reputation earn me that accusation? Trustee Bowman, who is campaigning for the coalition, recently vehemently attacked the village attorney of 35 years. When I called him on it, he stormed out of the meeting, calling me a joke and said no wonder people hate me. That’s a specific example of lack of respect. Mr. Caccamise was there but I notice he’s not troubled by that behavior. He also says that I’m not a leader — check my resume. I led the Planning Board during its most challenging years stopping a huge condo development. I was personally sued in federal and state court. In the private sector I led a diverse team across five continents. My skills at evaluating people and performance are well-honed. My evaluation of Chris, whom I appointed: poor. He sat at meeting after meeting silent while the other trustees actively participated in discussions.

    I have the stature to forge relationships. On Wednesday afternoon I met with Gov. Cuomo. As a result, I will be working with two of his aides to secure funding as we undertake the sewer project. Another example of building relationships to support our village.

  2. For 24 years, I’ve been a Philipstown resident — seven in Cold Spring and the past 17 in Nelsonville. Thankfully, Nelsonville has garnered public attention only a handful of times in these two decades. Besides several fires and numerous weather-related events, I recall the opening of the Nelsonville trails, the disbanding of our volunteer fire department, the celebrating of our sesquicentennial, the preserving of James Pond, the stopping of a major condo development, and the DOT’s installing of sidewalks and partial remedying of Secor Street’s severe and persistent flooding.

    Now the ZBA’s gutsy rejecting of the controversial cell phone tower application can be added to this list. What the village needs, perhaps now more than ever, is well-informed, consistent leadership. Our two incumbents offer experience, commitment, continuity, and comprehension of the various issues great and small that impact our multifaceted community. I wholeheartedly support the re-election of Nelsonville’s Mayor Bill O’Neill and Trustee Alan Potts on March 19.