Letters: Ward 4 Endorsements

Dan Aymar-Blair was my campaign finance manager when I ran for the Dutchess County Legislature in 2017. He brought professionalism and competence to the position. I never had to check in on Dan, he just got the job done.

Dan is now campaigning for a seat on the Beacon City Council with dogged determination and a solid plan, which he has been diligent and methodical in putting into place. Dan has a similarly well-thought-out plan for representing Ward 4 on the council (Ward 4 Candidates: What I Will Do, June 14). Based on my experience working with him, I am proud to endorse his candidacy in the upcoming Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 25.

Development is the single biggest issue facing Beacon. To deal with it — to make it work for all of Beacon rather than the enrichment of a few developers — we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Beacon has zoning laws. We need the City Council to ensure that they are enforced and set within the context of a broader vision that sees zoning as a means of developing community, not just as a bunch of buildings.

I’m confident Dan will work toward such a vision. I hope voters in Ward 4 will join me in voting for him, and for Beacon’s future.

Frits Zernike, Beacon
Zernike represents District 16 on the Dutchess County Legislature.

I am thrilled to share my support for Kelly Ellenwood for the Ward 4 seat on the Beacon City Council. Although I am not able to vote in Ward 4, I have had the pleasure of knowing Kelly for many years as a community activist, an artist, a mom, and a friend.

I met Kelly when I was a volunteer at the very first Wee Play Project Ree-Play Sale. I saw firsthand Kelly’s incredibly hard work, her commitment to community and willingness to work tirelessly to ensure the Ree-Play Sale was a success. As a result of these sales, our community has seen a beautiful tots’ park come to life. The Wee Playground has been enjoyed by many for years and years, including my own children, who are now 15 and 18.

Kelly’s sense of community has, quite literally, a broad reach in Beacon, with her conception and execution of the Beacon Free Loop and as president of BeaconArts. Kelly has always volunteered to support programs in our schools and our community. I have always known Kelly to have great integrity, as an innovative thinker, a caring listener, and a passionate advocate for Beacon’s Main Street and our families. I wholeheartedly support Kelly Ellenwood and can’t wait to see what she will do next in our great city.

Michele Ullian, Beacon

As a visual artist, I was drawn to Beacon because of the beauty of the Hudson River, the Highlands and the vibrant arts community. But having lived in various urban, suburban and metropolitan areas what also brought me to Beacon was the diversity of our community. In just a few years I have heard too many stories of small business owners, community arts organizations and families being squeezed out by development, rising rents and lack of affordable housing. This is a pattern being repeated all over our country.

It is time to put the brakes on, and talk about a vision for our city that will recognize and preserve what the arts and artists have contributed to our community, while doing what we can to maintain our racial and economic diversity. We need to expand opportunities for members of our community to stay here, work here and preserve the beauty of our green spaces.

Dan Aymar-Blair is a man with vision, someone who is determined to bring all parties to the table to flesh out our hopes and aspirations for our city.

If you live in Ward 4, I urge you to support Dan for City Council. This is an opportunity to take stock and have people planning instead of succumbing to every development opportunity.

Tina Bernstein, Beacon

For the past 17 years Kelly Ellenwood has put in more unpaid hours each week working exhaustively for this community than the majority of us devote to our full-time jobs. We have all personally benefited from these efforts in countless ways.

While I and the other new moms who moved to Beacon in the early 2000s grumbled about having to drive down to Cold Spring and back every day to find a safe, well-maintained playground for our toddlers, she actually did something about it and worked to create the Wee Play Park, continuing to fundraise and organize and donate her own time and money for years after her own children had outgrown playing there.

She brought that same indefatigable energy to running BeaconArts, spending eight years championing local artists, promoting and supporting countless events, and most recently creating the popular Beacon Free Loop.

Whether it’s volunteering and hosting events for Beacon Prison Rides, fundraising for the PTA, organizing voting drives or planting trees and cleaning up trash on the mountain, Kelly has shown up for Beacon day after day, year after year, and worked harder for our community than anyone else I know.

Kelly has chosen to dig in and inform herself on the complexity of local issues. Because she has attended or watched every City Council meeting and every Planning Board meeting, she knows the details and the facts that underlie the decisions the city faces. Her focus is 100 percent on Beacon: not rising up the political ladder; not getting media attention to support a personal agenda; not getting involved in whispering campaigns that have taken a toll on the city as a whole.

I’ve been in awe of Kelly for rising above the fray and focusing on how to help Beacon thrive, but then I have always been amazed by her persistence, her work ethic and her unparalleled ability to not just come up with great ideas, but toactually get them done. We need more transparency and a better level of discourse in Beacon, which is why I hope the voters in Ward 4 choose Kelly Ellenwood in the Democratic primary on June 25.

Katie O’Hagan, Beacon

The most important issue facing Beacon today is controlling development. There are two good people running as Democrats in Ward 4. I support Dan Aymar-Blair because of his exceptional knowledge and absolute commitment to tightly controlling development in Beacon.

Dan observed the pace of and problems with new developments in Beacon more than two years ago, and acted not by complaining, but by organizing a citizen study group, educating themselves on development and zoning issues, and then constructively and convincingly advocating for zoning changes to better control development.

I had the opportunity to meet Dan and other residents in the group, to review their concerns, to help educate each other, and to share findings with the broader community. You could not have found a better crucible to educate a new councilman on the critical issues to be faced, and to allow him to hit the ground running on day one, and no one did that better than Dan.

Dan Aymar-Blair will be an outstanding addition to the city council, and will fight to limit to new development and ensure that it serves the needs of our community. Local elections make a difference; Dan Aymar-Blair will make a huge difference.

Lee Kyriacou, Beacon
Kyriacou is a member of the Beacon City Council.

I am writing to express my strong endorsement for Kelly Ellenwood as the right candidate for Ward 4.

Kelly’s work for the city of Beacon is well known, for example.

Because Kelly lives in Beacon every day of the week, not just on the weekends, she knows our city exceptionally well: that’s one of many reasons why her representation on Ward 4 would be marked by real work, not rhetoric. This includes the detailed, grueling work on neighborhood improvements and how to get them done.

During this next Council’s term, funding issues and taxes will be big issues. As residents of New York State, we have already seen the proof of that statement.

Sadly, New York State’s population continues to decline faster than any other state. And New York has an overall ranking, 49 out of 50, as the worst tax state for business. Data show that Beacon’s population hasn’t grown; it is stable. What if the real question for us is not whether Beacon will grow too fast, but instead, whether Beacon will drive away potential new employers and residents with an even heavier combined burden of city plus property plus county plus state taxes?

Kelly has proven that she is a great listener, willing to learn. She is not an ideologue who twists the facts to fit her arguments. She will do the hard work to truly understand not only the issues that confront us, but how, equitably, we can pay for the solutions.

That’s why she has my full endorsement as the right candidate for Ward 4 City Council. Please vote on June 25 at the First Presbyterian Church, 50 Liberty St.

Jim Lichtenberg, Beacon

I am writing in support of Kelly Ellenwood, a longtime Beacon resident who is running for the Ward 4 seat on the Beacon City Council.

I have known Kelly for more than 30 years and there is no one who passionately supports Beacon and Beaconites more than she does. She fought long and hard for the children’s playground, the Howland Public Library, the Howland Cultural Center, the Beacon schools, and innumerable programs throughout the city as she and her husband, Tim, raised their two daughters here.

What is more impressive about Kelly is that she doesn’t just want to help people who think the same as she does, or have the same political affiliations, or worship the same way. She is understanding and tries to bring us together rather than polarize us.

I know there would not be anyone on the council who would work harder for every person and every business as Beacon enters a new stage in its development. It doesn’t hurt that she is so talented, either!

Stephanie Hepburn, Beacon

Protecting our environment has been, and will continue to be, a key focus for me as a councilperson. I am thrilled with the achievements we have made in appointing a Climate Smart Community Coordinator, assessing our natural resources, and launching Community Choice Aggregation. While we have made great progress toward protecting and respecting our resources, we can and should do more. I believe having Dan Aymar-Blair on the City Council will help advance our sustainability goals.

Dan is advocating for several initiatives to protect our environment that I can’t wait to work with him on. He has plans around ways to reduce and limit single use plastics in our community, support local, clean energy and expand and protect public spaces.

I feel Beacon can and should be a leader in environmental sustainability, and Dan’s ideas and vision will help advance our progress in this area. Please join me in voting for Dan Aymar-Blair on June 25.

Amber Grant, Beacon
Grant represents Ward 4 on the Beacon City Council but is running for an at-large seat.

There are so many reason that the Beacon Democrats unanimously endorsed Dan Aymar-Blair as the Democratic candidate for Beacon’s 4th Ward, but here are a couple: Dan approaches big issues like development pressures in Beacon the way we hope all our officials do — by devouring traffic, water use, sewage and infrastructure studies, but he works on solutions like a Democrat, from a people-first perspective. Dan has executive level experience at the New York City Department of Education, working with grants and budgets well beyond that of our small city and wears a suit to work every day, yet he used his vacation time to help organize a national movement, Grannies Respond. Dan drove a busload of grandmothers from Beacon to the Texas border to raise awareness at whistle-stops and to directly witness and report back on the separation and confinement of children at the border.

I first got to know Dan through email actually, because he was seeking feedback on a pilot of labor history lesson plans for middle schoolers. We connected again when Dan was out with the nonprofit he founded, Article 20 Network, to help educate Beacon’s school kids on their rights to engage in peaceful protest during the National Walkout against Gun Violence. Later, when I got to know him as a Democrat, spending long hot afternoons door knocking for Karen Smythe for the state Senate, I encouraged him to run for council (not that I was the only one!). I am excited to support Dan for many reasons: he shows up, he does the work, he supports fellow Democrats time and again, but most important are the values we share as Democrats, putting people before profits every time.

Lisa Jessup, Beacon
Jessup is the chair of Beacon Democrats.

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