Halfmoon candidates run one-sided campaign

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
HALFMOON — There is little competition in this year’s town elections in Halfmoon. Make that no competition, as all candidates are running unopposed.

Kevin Tollisen, who has been town supervisor for the past two years, is going for another term. Previously he served as town judge for 10 years and before that he was a town councilman for four years.

He said many of his initiatives have led to positive changes, such as installation of solar panels, going from a negative to stable financial outlook and conservative budgeting.

“The town is moving forward; since taking over we have done a lot of important things for the town of Halfmoon,” Tollisen said. “We’ve done a good job pushing the town forward and making it a better place to live.

“We are going to continue to . . . look for ways to improve services to our residents,” Tollisen said, though noting there are challenges along the way. “One of the biggest issues facing the town is health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.”

One major issue that will face the town the next couple of years deals with a resource that is one of the basic essentials of life: water. “We are also looking at issues in respect to long-term water; right now we are purchasing water from the city of Troy. We are not getting our water from the Hudson River because I’m extremely concerned about the PCBs and the health-associated risks,” he said. “I’m not going to put residents in a position of putting them on Hudson River water when we don’t have adequate scientific proof that it’s not a health hazard to our residents.”

Lynda Bryan has been the town clerk for the past five years and wants to continue at her post. “I really enjoy it; not only do I like doing the records but I used to be the records manager for the county before becoming town clerk,” she said. “The other thing that I like is the history of the town and I get to do a lot of that work too, not just preserving the records but helping to preserve some of the history. That’s been a lot of fun and I don’t want to give that up.”

It is the eighth time John Pingelski is running for highway superintendent. “I truly love my job; I’m a fourth-generation resident — very deep roots,” he said. “I care about the town.”

He, like Tollisen, is also focused on future finances. “We are trying to get a highway tax in here because we’ve had declining revenues,” Pingelski said. “I’m looking to come up with options to increase our paving to keep our roads in good shape. There is no one more than myself who wants every road in town to be the best it can be.”

Daphne Jordan, who has resided in Halfmoon for the past two decades, has been a town councilwoman since January 2014 and is also pursuing another term.

“I’m running because I really have only just begun,” she said. “I want to continue with Supervisor Tollisen and my Town Board colleagues to make an even better Halfmoon. We have done a lot in the almost two years we have been together: We reduced spending in our town government by over a million dollars,; we’ve refinanced town bonds and saved $1.6 million and increased town bond ratings; we’ve installed solar panels on the town property, which will be $170,000 of energy cost savings in the first year and $4.2 million over 20 years; and then we’ve also secured $850,000 in grant funding for our roads, open space, recreation and senior services.”

John Wasielewski is just completing his fourth year as a member of the Town Board; he has an extensive management and business background. “I’m very fiscally frugal,” he said. “I thought I could be an asset to the Town Board. I feel like I’m just starting to hit my stride. There’s a little bit of a learning curve when you first take office, and I’m feeling comfortable with the process now. I think we are doing good things.”

His mind is also on finances. “To maintain that fiscal accountability would be the number one goal and smart development for the town is a high priority,” he said. “Keep the character of the town, but realize that development is going to happen.”

It’s clear that they all have one thing in common: a great deal of pride and love for the municipality in which they live and help to run.