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Special Election Today In Catskill For Village Trustee Seat

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Jeff Holliday, Michelle Williams

A special election is being held today in the Greene County Village of Catskill.

Michelle Williams and Jeff Holliday are vying for an open seat on the Catskill Village Board of Trustees. In January, Republican Village President Vincent Seeley resigned after more than a decade. Seeley’s unfinished term expires in March 2022.

Trustee Peter Grasse was appointed village president in April, leaving the board with four trustees. That means the board could stalemate on votes. The five-member board, headed by the president, is tasked with overseeing village day to day operations.

Williams, a Democrat, owns the Mermaid Cafe and Bittersweet Ice Cream shop, which she says has helped her get to know residents.

"I have a real connection with the community, and especially with the village, having two businesses on Main Street. I have an ice cream shop and a cafe.  I opened the cafe just before December, the end of December before the pandemic. So I've been there and seen the struggle firsthand with the businesses, with the people. And I think that being so in touch, and so involved and so connected in such a direct way will be a great benefit. I'm also a mother, I have an 8-year-old who's in the Catskill school system. So it's just really connected in what's going on in the village, what's missing, especially when it comes to our youth, especially what was taken away and needs to be revisited, revised and recreated because of COVID. And now with the less restrictions and the reopening."

Holliday, a Republican, retired from the New York State Police last year, which he says gives him the ability and opportunity to serve in a more public role.

"I'd love to see us get to a position where we could get a new community center for every resident to use. To rebuild and strengthen and have a great summer recreation program for the kids, to give them something to do. I'd like to see us, as we go forward, continue to work on the infrastructure. We have different concerns and various departments, including the water system, the $5 million WIIA [Water Infrastructure Improvement Act] grant that they secured we'll be doing Main Street, from Water down to the red light, four corners, those lines have been in the ground since 1885."

The candidates agree that water is a top priority — and have formed individual plans for business and community. Williams says a new water filtration system is a "must."

"There's a lot of boil water warnings and so on. And it seems like a pretty basic need that needs to be addressed. I also want to help bring some more events and some more people into the Main Street business district, we introduced things that bring people back to Main Street into the small businesses and help us all thrive after you know, as things are opening up and getting better. And third, I would definitely like to revisit, and find, and help create, more things for children to do, which is obviously an important issue me, but I mean, we lost the community center, we've lost a lot of things in this community for children, and we need to start creating different experiences and different places and different events that help create things for them to do."

Holliday says even though it may seem like an odd time of year for an election, he's hoping villagers will cast their votes today.

"Continue to move the village forward moving in a positive direction. I think the the villages is changing, as our residents get older and new folks come in, it's a great place to live. It always has been. It's always had a really special charm to it being on the river and all that. And, you know, I chose to stay here and raised my family here and I want to see it be the best village it can be. And I want to be part of that. And I want to help to try to make that a reality as we go forward.  Let's get the village board whole again and continue to work towards making Catskill as great as it can be."

Polls are open at the Catskill Fire House through 9 p.m.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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