Berlin Candidates Discuss Berlin Lumber Purchase
by Phillip M. Zema
Robert Jaeger, Republican/ Democrat For Town Supervisor
Robert Jaeger is the incumbent Town Supervisor, and he is strongly in favor of purchasing the old Berlin Lumber site. His vision for the Town is to see it grow and flourish. By attracting more businesses to the community, his hope is that the Town can provide more local jobs. By having more businesses, the Town’s tax base would grow, which would ease the tax burden on local residents. Jaeger would also like there to be more youth programs for teens, especially during the summer time. The Berlin Lumber site would provide the Town with facilities necessary for holding both youth and senior events simultaneously. Berlin is a great place to grow up and raise a family, and he wants the Town to progress so that younger people want to stay. Jaeger has been a Berlin resident for 7 years and is the father of two children. He enjoys hunting, fishing and is a member of the Berlin Rod and Gun Club. He also enjoys working with his horses and developing his farm.
Donald Sweet, Republican For Town Justice
Donald Sweet is in favor of purchasing the Berlin Lumber site. He thinks the site is a golden opportunity for the Town, and since it can be purchased at a good price, it makes sense to buy it. His vision for the Town is to see it grow and become more developed. The Town lacks financial stability and is losing businesses and jobs, but by becoming more modernized and bringing in more businesses, the Town can be in a better position to thrive.
Leonard Clapp Jr., Democrat For Highway Superintendent
Leonard Clapp has postponed judgment about whether the Town should purchase the Berlin Lumber site until more information is provided. In the near future, he would like Berlin to improve itself. The Town can do this, he feels, by looking forward and getting more in line with modern times. By improving the roads and getting them up to State standards, the Town will take a step in the right direction. Clapp believes in keeping the taxes low, and he strives for accountability among the Town employees (i.e. ensuring the Town’s employees work the hours they get paid for). Through obtaining federal and state grants, he believes the Town can save on costs and improve its roads, especially those in the water district. Clapp volunteers for the Berlin Fire Department and has been married for 30 years.
James Winn, Republican For Highway Superintendent
Incumbent Highway Supervisor Jim Winn believes the Berlin Lumber site is a great opportunity. The Town needs to look ahead to the future, and since the site will have more offices and space for the Town’s Highway Department equipment and resources, the old lumber yard will allow the Town to conduct its operations more efficiently. Winn feels that the Town must keep looking ahead and cannot stay stuck in the past. The roads have been better, but to keep progressing, the Town must keep improving them; by getting away from dirt roads and moving towards blacktop, the Town will ultimately save on maintenance costs. Furthermore, the Town must, without spending too much, find ways to upgrade and preserve its highway equipment. Winn has lived in Berlin for all 49 years of his life. He is the father of three and works a three-generation farm.
Anne Maxon, Democrat For Town Clerk
Incumbent Town Clerk Anne Maxon is in favor of moving the Town Hall to the old Berlin Lumber Site. The Town has the necessary funds, and it can make the purchase without necessarily raising taxes. The chance to purchase it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it would greatly help Berlin. She would like to see the Town grow, but also stay rural. Moreover, she would like to see more businesses come to Berlin, as that would help reduce the tax burden on Berlin’s landowners. Maxon has lived in Berlin for 60 years and has been Town Clerk for 27 years.
Joseph Sweener, Democrat For Town Council
Sweener thinks it is a good idea to purchase the Berlin Lumber site because, in the long run, it will save the Town money. Berlin has lost many important businesses, which has led to far less job opportunities. By encouraging the development of new businesses, the Town can thrive and keep younger people from leaving the area. He thinks that new attempts at modernization, such as the raising of the cell tower, are steps in the right direction. Sweener has lived in Berlin for all 41 years of his life. He is the Vice President of the Fire Department, which he has served for 20 years, and is a member of Rensselaer County’s Fire Advisory Board.
Jim Saunders, Republican For Town Council
Incumbent Jim Saunders fears that Berlin is not in an ideal position to purchase the Berlin Lumber Site. In so far as the site would demand heavy upkeep costs, likely increase taxes, and, since the Town is already taxed out, it is probably not in Berlin’s best interest to make the purchase. Since people are already burdened with heavy taxes, it is imperative that the Town attract more businesses and prevent tax hikes. Jim Saunders is a lifelong Berlin resident and, as a Councilman, has spent the last four years working hard to keep taxes down. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, hunting, fishing and gardening.
Christopher Baretsky, Democrat For Town Council
Christopher Baretsky has yet to take a stance on the Berlin Lumber yard until the pros and cons of the purchase have been carefully considered. His goal for Berlin is to see it grow commercially but still keep the integrity of a small, rural town by creating an atmosphere where small businesses and country stores can thrive. He has lived in Berlin for 28 years, works as a plumbing foreman at the commercial/industrial level and enjoys fly and trout fishing.
Richard VonSchilgen, Republican For Town Council
Richard VonSchilgen is still undecided about whether the Town should purchase the old lumber yard until all facts and possible expenditures have been fully evaluated. VonSchilgen envisions Berlin becoming more reflective of the Town it was 100 years ago. Due to the economy, the Town is a bit stagnant, but he hopes this problem can be turned around. He would like to see the Town’s community grow and witness more businesses flourishing. An increase in industry, small businesses, and agriculture would be ideal. Furthermore, the Town’s water system is a primary concern. The worry is that there are not sufficient funds needed to repair and improve the system, and he is working to see that this problem is corrected. He has been a Berlin resident since 1971.
Pamela DeShane, Democrat/Republican Incumbent For Tax Collector
Regarding the Berlin Lumber purchase, DeShane will remain neutral until the Town knows more about how the purchase will affect taxpayers. She would like to see the Town expand its youth and senior programs and establish a community where young people are more likely to stay. She feels that the cell towers are good for the Town. Pamela has lived in Berlin for 40 years and has been a Rensselaer 4-H leader for 9 years.
Nancy Sweener, Democrat For Assessor
Incumbent Sweener thinks it would be a good idea to purchase the Berlin Lumber site. It would provide the Town with many business and program opportunities. Ideally, she would like to see more businesses enter the community and see Main St. become more like it once was. She is a life-long Berlin resident, involved with Taconic Valley Soccer Club and has worked for the School District.
Stanley Pettibone II, Republican For Assessor
Stanley would like to see Berlin’s residents have the freedom to make an informed choice about the Berlin Lumber Yard. He would like to see more businesses come to the community but for Berlin to keep its rural, small-town atmosphere. Property taxes (and tax increases) are inevitable, but Pettibone feels that residents must be aware of why their property taxes are a certain amount. Pettibone intends to give taxpayers the tax discounts allotted to them. He has lived in the area since he was 10 and has been President of the Fire Department for 14 years. He is also a Captain in the Fire Department, an EMT, and the Rescue Squad President.
Patty Baretsky, Democrat Incumbent For Assessor
Until more information is provided, Patty Baretsky will remain neutral about the Berlin Lumber purchase. She wants the community to come together and to not let political parties divide it. When she was a kid, there was tremendous neighborly support, and she would like Berlin to be more like it was. She is an incumbent Assessor who is dedicated to helping the Town, and she is committed to helping taxpayers get the exemptions they deserve. Baretsky has lived in Berlin her entire life and enjoys substituting at the high school.