There are two candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot for two open seats on the Cold Spring Village Board.
Tweeps Phillips Woods was elected in November 2021 to complete the final year of the 2-year term of Heidi Bender, who was elected in 2020 but resigned. Woods had earlier been appointed by then-Mayor Dave Merandy to complete the first year of Bender’s term.
Laura Bozzi was appointed in May to replace Joe Curto, who resigned, citing health reasons. Curto had been appointed to fill Kathleen Foley’s trustee seat after she was elected mayor.
The two open seats are for full, 2-year terms. The other three seats, held by Foley and Trustees Cathryn Fadde and Eliza Starbuck, will be on the ballot in 2023.
Last week, two former trustees, Fran Murphy and Marie Early, announced write-in campaigns for the open seats. Murphy did not run for re-election last year after serving for three terms; Early sought a fourth term but dropped out of the race.
To assist voters, The Current asked each of the candidates to respond to three questions in 500 words or less.
On the Ballot
Why are you seeking to be elected?
Bozzi: I want to continue advocating for our community, and I enjoy working together with our neighbors toward something bigger. When I moved here with my husband in 2019, I got involved right away, joining the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Philipstown Climate Smart Task Force and the Philipstown Trails Committee.
As a trustee, I bring my professional experience in public health and environmental policy. My career has spanned the building of local food systems in Providence, Rhode Island, to protecting water quality and community health in West Virginia. I’ve worked in state and federal government, and at a number of nonprofits. I’ve built programs, led teams and secured over $1 million in grant funding. At the Yale School of Public Health, where I am a director and faculty member, I conduct research and build partnerships to address climate change’s impacts on communities. I’m passionate about protecting people’s health, taking action on climate change and working toward a sustainable future.
You’ll continue to see these experiences come through in my work as a trustee: as an advocate for community health, seeking and securing grants to address our needs, and, most importantly, listening to everyone and building connections.
Woods: The answer is simple. For the past 11 months, we have been working full speed to address many of the serious and long-neglected issues in the village, such as deteriorating infrastructure. At the same time, we’re responding to current issues like this summer’s severe drought and water supply preservation. We inherited a complete mess.
Villagers would be surprised and frankly disturbed to learn of needs that were ignored entirely in an effort to create the illusion of fiscal responsibility. Everything from black-mold remediation to failing technology — a missing door handle on a critical public facility. To say nothing of unfinished contracts and essential projects dropped because of politics.
The worst part is that one of our most important assets — our talented, committed staff — had been laboring in unsafe environments, without the tools and support needed to do the work asked of them. Morale was low. I have worked and will continue to work collaboratively to prioritize and manage projects, to open lines of communication and to provide support to the great people who actually make this village run.
What have been your significant contributions as a trustee?
Bozzi: With our tight budget, I know that we need to bring in outside funds to cover improvements and programs. While Cold Spring had made clean energy upgrades, we left money on the table by not participating in a state grant program through NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority]. I worked with the board and village treasurer to enroll the village and secure our first grant, with two more on the way. I also partnered with Philipstown and the state to secure our first electric-vehicle charger on village property, at zero cost to residents.
This summer’s drought was a concerning signal that we need to be even better prepared for the future. I worked with Mayor Foley and our water superintendent on key drought emergency tools, including intermunicipal agreements and a multi-stage drought management plan. A major accomplishment for the board was to sign an agreement with New York City to connect to the Catskill Aqueduct as our backup water supply.
Woods: My primary work has been to support the creation of better internal processes and day-to-day communications so that villagers are well-informed and have a vested interest in the decisions made by the trustees. We had to rebuild trust in the board by showing respect for our village team and giving them space to do the jobs where they have expertise.
We have a great team now. No wild outbursts, throwing pens or willful distrust. Just a commitment to doing the work. Our meetings are efficient, productive and now open to all who want to participate, whether from your kitchen table or in person. We make every effort to get you the information you need so that you can actively participate.
This is all change that I have stewarded with a team of talented trustees and staff, and I’m proud of it. People think I am quiet. It’s a change from what villagers have seen in previous officeholders, but don’t be fooled. I’m a deep listener and a true collaborator. I leave space to really hear my colleagues and the public. That’s the job: to listen, consider and get to the best solutions, ego aside.
What are the top three issues facing the village?
Bozzi: The current board inherited major infrastructure issues that had been long ignored. We are prioritizing and addressing them. High on the list is repairing the reservoir dam, as is continued sidewalk and road fixing to improve safety and walkability. Second, managing tourism impacts and protecting quality of life is a major priority. I’ll continue to give the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail proposal a hard look and advocate the interests of the village. Third, we need to be creative and strategic to find revenue sources to cover costs for infrastructure and services. Metered parking is slated to begin in the spring on Main Street, and this summer the board secured state legislative approval for a local tax on short-term rentals.
Woods: We have a limited budget; prioritizing is key to addressing issues in a timely and efficient manner. Top of mind is making sure we have the people power to manage our roadways, streets, sewer and water. We need to find creative revenue generation, implementing the parking plan; key considerations were not addressed and must be. I can give you a laundry list but ultimately, protecting this beautiful place we call home and providing a safe living and working environment is the most important issue.
Why did you decide to run so close to the election?
Early: When I saw the sample ballot in September, I felt something needed to be done. At that point, a write-in campaign was the only alternative.
Murphy: Six months ago, when it was time to gather signatures [for nominating petitions to appear on the ballot], I still had hope that some things would get done. Now we’ve been through the whole summer and nothing has changed. Most people I spoke with didn’t even know there was a village election this year. Now they do; now they have a choice.
If elected, what would your priorities be?
Early: Implementation of the Village Code, specifically Chapters 126 (Vehicles and Traffic), 127 (Residential Parking Program) and 100 (Short-Term Rentals); completion and adoption of Chapter 134 (Zoning); and completion of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).
Murphy: Implementation and enforcement of laws that were approved during the last administration, especially Chapter 100 (Short-Term Rentals), Chapter 126 (Vehicles and Traffic) and Chapter 127 (Residential Parking Program). Also, completion of the code update. Only Chapter 134 and two related chapters need to be completed. This will open the way for approval of the LWRP and a gateway to additional funding.
What are the top three issues facing the village?
Early: Overvisitation, including the Fjord Trail; ensuring the village water supply; and finding alternate revenue sources.
Murphy: When listening to residents, it is evident that parking and crowds are major problems. The third issue is water. This issue is discussed during every election. We received detailed information from Chazen [a consulting firm] regarding alternatives to our dams. We need to seriously consider this.