* create a community land bank to renovate “zombie” properties and expand affordable housing [Learn More]
* increase free and low-cost educational opportunities [Learn More]
* create smart, green jobs and move Dutchess toward a fossil fuel free future [Learn More]
* restore mental health, youth, and senior programs that have been cut [Learn More]
* downsize the boondoggle jail project to protect taxpayers [Learn More]
* get money out of politics so Dutchess government is transparent, accountable, and effective [Learn More]
* Town of Poughkeepsie resident for 22 years, homeowner since 1999
* Mother of child in Arlington public schools
* Teaches U.S. history at Vassar College (since 1995; B.A. College of William & Mary, Ph.D. University of Virginia)
* Leader of campaign to prevent closure of Arthur S. May Elementary School
* Former board member, Grace Smith House, Inc.
* Local co-coordinator, Warrior-Scholar Project college preparatory seminar for military veterans
* Founder, Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project
* Capital campaign chair, First Congregational/United Church of Christ, Poughkeepsie
* Former board member, Amnesty International USA
The big banks wrecked our economy, and New York’s Attorney General won hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements against them. Counties have applied to use those funds to claim bank-owned properties that are standing empty and convert them to affordable housing. The Greater Syracuse Land Bank, for example, has acquired over 1300 properties and leveraged $24 million in private investment.
Dutchess has completely missed out. Despite being one of the worst-hit counties in the state, in 2008, Dutchess has done nothing to join the land bank initiative. We need to get organized now to apply for our share of what the banks owed and paid to New Yorkers. Our communities, and property values, would benefit for decades to come.
Affordable housing is one of our most urgent local priorities—a key to addressing many problems we face. For example, up to three-quarters of domestic violence survivors who leave local shelters can’t find housing for themselves and their children, which often means they are forced to move in again with their abusers.
The county’s current economic development programs are expensive and ineffective. Rather than chasing after large corporations and offering them long-term tax breaks that erode local revenue, there are smarter ways to build economic opportunity.
Green growth is essential, not only to address climate change but because more than half of every dollar spent on fossil fuels in Dutchess County leaves the Dutchess economy. County government can do a great deal more to promote green energy job growth. Good public transportation should be part of the mix, and our Greenway and rail-trail networks, which offer such wonderful opportunities for recreation, should be expanded for commuter use.
Protecting our water supply, disposing toxic wastes, and abating risks from petroleum transport are jobs too big for town governments to manage alone. The county needs to take more leadership to protect our public health and the beauty of the Hudson Valley.
Dutchess does not need a palatial new jail complex, estimated to cost taxpayers a staggering $250 million between now and the 2040s—the largest capital project ever proposed in the county—and proposing 569 beds for a facility that should need only 350 to 400. These are wrong priorities. Other communities have implemented bail reform, alternatives to incarceration, and similar strategies that substantially reduce jail costs. Dutchess should do much more to follow suit, so it can build a much smaller jail, devote resources to other urgent needs, and prevent the sharp tax increases this project would surely trig
. . . but it must start early. We should eliminate the county waitlist for Head Start and expand affordable pre-K opportunities. Decades of research shows that this is one of the most effective ways to ensure success for every child. We must also protect and improve our public schools at all levels, to ensure high-quality education for all.
Youth summer jobs and enrichment programs are also essential routes to success that can open career opportunities right here in Dutchess. And we should explore ways of expanding free access to Dutchess Community College for county residents. (The New York Department of Labor projects strong near-term job growth in the Hudson Valley for 190 different career fields; 130 of those require at least some college background.)
Dutchess has one of the worst opiate addiction problems in the state: over the last decade, more people have died of drug overdoses in Dutchess County alone than have died in terrorist attacks in the entire United States. This is a public health crisis affecting all our communities. It requires not more jail space but innovative and expanded treatments, along with jobs and opportunity that offer real alternatives to addiction and despair.
Many groups in the county have suffered from recent budget-slashing. Mental health services and addiction services, in particular, urgently need support. Dutchess County needs more beds for children getting mental health care. (Right now the number of beds is zero—families with children getting treatment must send them away to Westchester or other counties.) We should also open Senior Friendship Centers for a full five-day week and take other measures to support elders and care-givers.
County officeholders should serve all the people, not those who write big checks. But “pay to play” is a big problem here in Dutchess, as it is in Albany and Washington, DC. We need a Democratic majority in the county legislature to counterbalance the executive and promote more careful decision-making. Like Orange County and other jurisdictions, we should ban campaigns contributions from businesses seeking to bid on county contracts. With more accountable government, we can cut costs and provide high-quality services in more effective ways.
For information on your district, registration, and polling place, go to:
Last day New Yorkers can register to vote in 2017: Oct. 13
Last day to file a change of address: Oct. 18
Last day to apply for an absentee ballot: Oct. 31 (new military, Oct. 28)
Make a plan to VOTE on Tuesday, November 7!
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