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VOTE411 Voter Guide

DC Legislative District 05

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    Pamela Kingsley (Dem) Editor/writer

  • Ken Roman (Rep)

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Biographical Information

1. What can the County do to create employment opportunities for County Residents?

2. What can the County do to promote growth in the agriculture sector?

3. Now that the County has taken over the City of Poughkeepsie Bus system, what can be done to address the concerns of the residents for whom access has been reduced?

4. Dutchess County is struggling to find ways of coping with the growing opioid epidemic: how can we improve the effectiveness of current practice? Or, are there any alternative strategies that you feel would be worth considering?

5. How best can the County address the problem that inmate populations exceed the ability of the jail system to adequately house and support them?

6. Cities and towns in Dutchess County have seen a decline in the tax base, while infrastructure ages, and needs repair or replacing. How can the County address this?

7. What needs to be done to improve quality of and access to Mental Health resources for Dutchess County residents?

8. In 2015, 1 in 10 Dutchess County residents was receiving services from DCFS. What can the County do in order to improve upon what Family Services provides for those who rely on these services?

9. Should the County encourage development of alternative energy sources, and if so, what might be the most effective strategies?

Campaign Phone (845) 297-8302
Party Enrollment/Designations Democratic Party, Working Families Party, Green Party
Age 56
Experience Have worked in the book publishing industry for more than 30 years, as a publisher, editor, and writer. Co-founder of the Indivisible group ACT NY 18.
Education B.A. in Political Science from Colgate University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
This county has so much to offer business: an educated population; three colleges; access to a rail line and two local airports; situated near two major highways. The county needs to court companies that want to invest in the community and its workers, like Chobani in New Berlin, New York, not companies simply in it for tax breaks, which erodes the tax base and puts added financial pressure on residential taxpayers. The County should also support the development of locally grown businesses and start-ups, including the creation of cooperative workspaces. We also need high-speed broadband to be fully available across the county. And when the County offers a business tax breaks and other benefits, there must be real benchmarks put in place and achieved before the company gets those benefits. If they don’t, the benefits are rescinded.
Work with organizations like the Hudson Valley Agriculture Development Corporation to build regional food hubs for local producers, making sure their crops connect with buyers. This includes participation in programs like Farm to Institution New York State and Farm to SUNY, whose goals are to maximize the volume of locally produced food served in local institutions like schools, senior centers, and colleges.
The County should reinstate the bus routes to those areas whose service was most severely cut. The bus is providing these residents with the means to get to their jobs, to get to school, and to go food shopping. The bus isn’t a convenience for them, it’s an economic necessity.
From 2015 to 2016, there was a drop in opioid-related deaths in Dutchess County, directly related to the increased use across of the county of the overdose antidote naloxone. That is to be commended but it doesn’t change the severity of the epidemic. Dutchess needs a two-pronged approach, first, dealing with the drug addicted, second, early intervention with at-risk youth to keep them from becoming addicted; those between 18 and 24 are particularly at risk. The County needs to offer more counseling services to families dealing with addiction, and provide funding to local treatment and residential programs; many are turned away from treatment centers because there are no openings. Also, the opioid crisis has strong links to an economy that is failing its residents; nearly 40% of working families in Dutchess struggle to make ends meet.
With the new jail slated at 500 beds, the issue isn’t the population exceeding the jail’s ability to house them. The issue is that the majority of inmates currently held in the jail are unsentenced and suffering from drug addiction and/or mental illness. It costs $300 per day to keep an inmate in our county jail and the average stay is 56 days, more than twice the national average. What the County needs to focus on and support are bail reform and keeping those who have mental health issues and/or are addicted out of jail and getting them into appropriate programs that can help them. Doing so is fiscally and socially responsible.
This is related to question 1. The tax base is declining because we have seen a loss of businesses in the area from the tax rolls, either in the form of closing or cutting back operations, like IBM, or the County giving big tax breaks in return for the promise of jobs that often never get created. We need to support local companies that will thrive, grow, and contribute to the tax base. The County should also support the creation of a Land Bank to facilitate the takeover of “zombie properties,” properties that have been abandoned, so they can be repaired, redeveloped, and returned to the tax rolls.
The Stabilization Center provides an important service but patients are only allowed to stay there for 23 hours, 59 minutes. Where do they go then? There are few options in Dutchess. And in the case of underage patients, there are no mental health beds available in the county. The nearest facilities are in Westchester and Rockland. This puts a huge strain on families already emotionally taxed. Dutchess needs to find a way to restore the child psychiatric beds that disappeared when St. Francis Hospital became Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital.
The significant use of family services in the county is another outcome of the fact that nearly 40% of Dutchess County working families are living from paycheck to paycheck. So many of our families are struggling to make ends meet working minimum wage jobs. Working fulltime, that’s less than $20,000 a year to pay for housing, food, and insurance. The stressors associated with economic uncertainty can lead to mental health issues, drug addiction, abuse, and more. The answer is to improve the financial health of our residents through real and sustained economic development in Dutchess County.
I think Dutchess should take a page from Sullivan County and participate in the Climate Smart Communities Certification Program. It is their goal to reduce greenhouse emissions from government operations by 50% by 2020. As part of this effort, they have been switching to solar energy and have offered incentives to county municipalities that install electric vehicle charging stations. We should also take Ulster County as a model, which purchases its electricity through sustainable sources, is investing in solar installations with the goal of generating up the 20% of the County’s electricity, and was designated a Clean Energy Community by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority for its efforts in cutting energy use and costs in the county.
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