Off to the races in Shandaken

Nolan vs. Stanley for supervisor; four vie for two town board seats

by Violet Snow
August 18, 2011 11:10 AM | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following Shandaken’s party caucuses, lively electoral races are shaping up, with four candidates vying for two town council seats: Hanover Farms proprietor Alfred “Alfie” Higley, Jr., and incumbent Vincent Bernstein on the Republican ticket, and Michael Koegel of Mama’s Boy Market and former town supervisor Peter DiSclafani representing the Democrats. Kathleen Nolan, long an outspoken critic of local Republican policies, received the Democratic nod for supervisor, challenging incumbent Rob Stanley, who gained the Republican nomination.

Candidate Higley and his father, Al Higley, Sr., have been the center of a controversy over the farmstand they own on Route 28 in Mount Tremper. Despite violating zoning regulations, the popular business has persisted for nine years, prompting a series of administrations, including Stanley’s, to contemplate changes to zoning regulations to make Hanover Farms legal. Such efforts have remained in limbo.

When asked whether he would attempt to re-zone if elected, Higley said, “No. That’s not on the agenda.” He and his father, a former county legislator, say they are currently negotiating to move their store to a location in Boiceville in September. It’s not a done deal at this point, said the elder Higley, stating, “We’re working on it.”

Alfie declined to expound on his platform so early in his campaign, but he did mention, at the Democratic caucus on Tuesday, August 16, a need for more activities for local children, especially in winter, and for seniors. “I understand the beat of this town,” he asserted in his statement preceding the vote. Although a registered Democrat, Higley received the support of the Republicans but was defeated in his effort to gain a place on the Democratic ticket in caucuses that took place August 10 (Republican) and August 16 (Democrats).

The other surprise candidate, Michael Koegel (“rhymes with bagel”), was recruited by the Democrats the day before the caucus but turned out to be the highest vote-getter of the four candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement. Although Koegel, a native of Syracuse, has had a home in Shandaken for only ten years, he plunged into the local scene by opening his coffee shop in the center of Phoenicia in May 2010. He has revived the long-dormant Phoenicia Business Association, spearheaded an ad hoc marketing effort to promote the town, and performed in shows at the STS Playhouse.

Bernstein, the former game warden who has served four years as councilman and owns Simpler Times cabins, was endorsed by the Republicans, but was narrowly beaten by DiSclafani in his quest for the Democratic nod, with Higley coming in last. DiSclafani was on the town board for two years before his term as supervisor and is proprietor of the Catskill Rose restaurant in Mount Tremper.

Town councilman Tim Malloy has decided not to seek reelection.

Despite rumors to the contrary, town clerk Laurilyn Frasier said she has fully intended to run for reelection. She was successful in obtaining the Republican endorsement, defeating challenger Lois Lapinski. Frasier, who has held the town clerk position for 24 years, did not seek the Democratic nomination, which went to Chichester resident and businesswoman Joyce Grant, with Lapinski again trailing.

In both caucuses, highway superintendent Eric Hofmeister prevailed against Keith Johnson, who formerly held the position. Both parties also endorsed assessors Heidi Clark and Carol Seitz, the only two candidates for the posts they currently hold.++

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Michael Koegel
August 23, 2011
I would like to comment on one error in the reporting concerning my nomination as a candidate for Shandaken Town Council. I was not "recruited by the Democrats the day before the caucus." While I was looking for someone to second my nomination the day prior to the caucus, I had considered running for a while and had planned to run far in advance of the caucus. The only reason I bring this up is that the article makes it seem as if this was a cavalier decision on my part s well as the Democratic committee and that certainly was not the case.

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