Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Kevin Barry, an attorney, a vocal member of the New Paltz community, as well as a father of two children in the New Paltz School District, has thrown his hat into the ring because he strongly believes that “We need effective local leadership now more than ever. For the most part, our elected officials at the state and national level have left us to fend for ourselves. These officials appear to be incapable of solving serious economic and social problems, choosing to put their politics and special interests ahead of the needs of real people like you and me,” he said. “As a result of this ineffective leadership, federal and state funds no longer flow freely to support all of the needs of our community, including our schools. With fewer dollars flowing into the community, local governments and schools are looking to us to cover larger and larger shortfalls. Meanwhile, municipal and school budgetary expenditures climb higher every year, with no end in sight. How do we navigate through this mess?”

Barry’s answer is “effective leadership”: “People in our community need to elect individuals with the ability to think outside of the box to find solutions that work within the current economic reality. For these reasons I have decided to run for Town Board.”

The pooling of resources among the town, village, college and school district is one of Barry’s top priorities if elected in November. “These groups should be discouraged from ‘going it alone,’” he said, “because doing so will lead to economic collapse for all of us. We simply cannot afford to pay for a series of duplicative multi-million-dollar projects at the same time. We need to adopt a new approach. One of our top priorities is to integrate the decision-making of these groups, especially decisions involving significant capital investment in new projects, such as municipal buildings, schools, recreational facilities and water and sewer facilities. The entire group will share in the benefits as well as the expense of a desired community project, and taxpayers pay less.”

Barry added other areas on which he would like to focus if elected. “A second priority is to manage our existing town assets, such as the Community Center and our sewage facilities, in a more efficient manner,” he said. “We need to identify revenue opportunities which can be derived from each asset category, and then manage them in a manner which will replace current town operating deficits with operating surpluses.”

He said that another priority of his, if elected, would be to “stop wasting taxpayer money defending lawsuits which could have been avoided, and by improving real property not owned by the town.”

Barry, who came out in opposition to the town’s passage of the Floodplain Laws (which were upheld in court after several residents challenged these laws with an Article 78 lawsuit) and is not in support of the proposed Wetlands and Waterways Protection Ordinance currently before the Town Board, said that he believes in “floodplain management and wetlands protection” and recognizes that they “are high priorities in our community” that he says he “fully supports.” But he went on to add that in his estimation, “The most difficult task is implementing the law in a manner that’s fair to all members of the community. This process requires thoughtful consideration of competing community interests. The best version of any law is one that includes meaningful input from all members of the community — especially from those most affected by that law. For example, the proposed Wetlands Law could result in some significant use restrictions for some homeowners in the community. Why not offer them a reduction in their tax assessments to compensate them? This is a sensible approach, because it would offset the impact of the imposition of new use restrictions on some of our neighbors and encourage them to support the law instead of challenging it in a lawsuit. My legal experience has taught me that valuable time and resources can be saved by getting the law right in the first place!”

Barry added, “As a lawyer, my education and legal experience suit me for this challenge. I have devoted the past 30 years to analyzing complex problems, developing solutions and communicating with others in a variety of matters. My commitment is to work hard, to understand the facts and always be open to input and ideas from others. Together we will reinvent the way we conduct Town business.” ++