Micki earns seat at Dutchess table

Our big election news: early results show Micki Strawinski winning a very close race for County Legislature with a final tally of 1209 to Ben’s 1168. Unofficial reports also showed about 104 absentee ballots to be counted, which leaves the race technically unfinished yet likely still won once official results are in.

This result represents a huge shift in voter sentiment from her previous run in 2011 when she lost by 308. Since that time Micki worked hard to learn the County issues, often attending County meetings and speaking up for Red Hook more strongly than sitting legislators. During this year’s campaign, Micki spoke with many hundreds of voters about their concerns on what many see as poor handling of issues like the new jail and the County finances. She promises to push the County to take a more responsible approach.

As expected, Red Hook turnout was low at approx 34%–even lower than in 2011 when 41% voted.

Elect Micki Strawinski to County Legislature

Micki Strawinski will appear on the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines in the November 5, 2013 election. Please visit her Facebook page to learn more, get the latest information on her campaign efforts, and find out what you can do to help.

Born and raised in Dutchess County as a middle child of six kids, I moved to Texas for work where I met my husband Doug Strawinski and eventually convinced him to move back to Dutchess County in 1996. We have two children, both graduates of Red Hook High School: Andrew (26) and Jaclynn (24). Red Hook has been a wonderful place for us to live and raise our family.

In 1998, I joined the group that would soon be renamed the Red Hook Parent Teacher Student Association where I served as Vice President and President. I served on the school district’s Committee for Special Education as a child advocate for several years and volunteered in many other school-related activities as my children progressed through school.

What experience and/or training has prepared you to serve in the position you seek?
I have 34 years of administrative experience in a variety of fields including construction, purchasing and medical office management and am currently in my tenth year of employment at Bard College, currently as the Student Employment Manager.

I served as chair of Red Hook’s Greenway and Trails Committee until 2007 when I was elected to the Red Hook Town Board where I serve today. I co-founded Northern Dutchess Communities that Care and was co-organizer of the Red Hook Winter Market and the annual Red Hook town-wide Spring Cleanup. I also serve as the liason to several town committees including the Economic Development Committee and Senior Services Committee.

As liaison to a number of town committees I have had the opportunity to be a part of many great accomplishments by these groups of dedicated volunteers. During my term, the Economic Development Committee was restructured and now has members from a variety of businesses and interests. The Conservation Advisory Committee headed by Brenda Cagle received grants for solar panels on town hall and the firehouse. The Greenway and Trails Committee completed the wetlands trail and began a new annual event “The Tour de Red Hook” and the Senior Services Committee developed an Emergency Response Directory, sponsored twice a month food drives, several Medicare workshops and started a Senior Walk Program.

Please share your thoughts on property taxes and any specific related changes or policies you support and will work to pass if elected.
While serving as your town councilwoman these past four years, I have been a strong voice for keeping our town taxes low and objected to unnecessary spending at a time when financial constraint was urgent. I’m no stranger to balancing a checkbook or a budget whether at home or at work and know from experience the burden that our onerous property tax system places on hard-working families.

I’m proud to have helped construct and pass a 0% tax increase budget during my term. And to save more, I waived my rights to a yearly $4000 insurance buy-out for elected officials and have supported a resolution to eliminate it for all local officials at a savings of thousands of dollars to the residents of Red Hook and Tivoli.

Real, meaningful property tax relief can only come in the form of a method such as a Circuit Breaker which would set a maximum amount that a family would be required to pay based on their income. I have lobbied in Albany for exactly that and will continue to do so on behalf of Red Hook and Dutchess County.

What is your position on the prison overcrowding, jail construction and public safety issue?
The overcrowding issue in the jail should have been addressed years ago and has only been exacerbated by recent cuts to social and mental health services. I understand that the county has extensive Alternative to Incarceration Programs that are successful but we should look for further improvements by trying programs from other counties or states that have had success.

I will also push to make sure that we are working with the state regarding the possibility of local shared facilities. For example, the Fishkill Correctional facility has empty dorms that would reduce the transportation costs spent moving inmates to other counties.

We must also look at the full picture of how to best handle the various populations within the jail. 75-80% of our inmates are being held pre-trial or pre-sentencing – if we can reduce the backlog of cases with faster courts it will save us money on incarceration.

What is your position on independent redistricting at the county level?
Last December, my opponent and the newly elected Republican majority repealed an independent redistricting law that had been passed with bipartisan support just a year earlier. This law would have created a committee of five citizens with two picked by each party and the fifth picked by those four members. The committee would redraw the legislative districts and present the plan to the full legislature for a vote.

The goal was to ensure that county legislative districts would be redrawn with the best interests of the people in mind, not gerrymandered to the benefit of one side or another. Instead, we now have a committee that was hand-picked by a single party. Governor Cuomo has stated that he will not sign a redistricting plan at the state level that does not come from an independent body. Why should we do any less? When elected I will push to restore truly independent redistricting for the people of Dutchess County.

Choose one more important issue facing our county today and how you would handle it.
We must work with the federal government to secure funds to ensure that our aging, and sometimes dangerous, infrastructure is being maintained properly and repaired where necessary. While serving on the town board, we received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for town projects and I will work to ensure that no stone is left unturned at the county level when it comes to funding for our infrastructure and other services. Every dollar we find in grants for the county and Red Hook is a dollar less in taxes that must be raised.

Why should voters pick you on election day?
For more than 20 years I have dedicated myself to service – whether it was as an active member of parent teacher associations, child advocate and tutor in the school district or as a volunteer my local community. Over the last 4 of these years, it has been my great honor to serve as a council member on the Red Hook Town Board. In this time I have learned a great deal about how government is supposed to work.

With the encouragement of family and friends I decided to take a step up the political ladder to the county level. While I will represent the residents of Red Hook and Tivoli, decisions made at this level will take on a more personal meaning because of the deep family roots I have in the county. If elected I can only promise this: I will continue to serve with the same energy, enthusiasm and advocacy as I have in the past.

Strawinski endorsed for County Legislature

Three key groups representing more than 125,000 building and construction trades workers, Dutchess County employees, and organized labor members and their families have endorsed Micki Strawinski (D-Red Hook) for election to the Dutchess County Legislature next Tuesday, November 8, representing Red Hook and Tivoli.

The Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council (HVBCTC), Dutchess County Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (HVALF) unanimously cite Strawinski for her “commitment to addressing the needs of all hardworking men and women.”

“There is no better place than Red Hook. I am extremely passionate about our future,” says Strawinski. “I look forward to working as hard as I can for our wonderful town in the legislature.”

Now in her last year of a four year term as an elected member of the Town Board of Red Hook, Strawinski is known for her can-do, tireless efforts on behalf of her fellow residents. She has helped lead the fight for more efficient, tax-saving town budgets and land-use laws that are laying the foundation for more jobs and economic growth.

“In these hard times, we must work together to make sure Red Hook continues to offer the best in education, economic opportunity and commitment to the future,” Strawinski says. “I intend to get the job done in Poughkeepsie.”

“Micki will appear on the Democratic and Working Families lines on November 8th.”

State Senator Steve Saland Votes to Block Ethics Reform

After unanimously supporting the bill when it first came to a vote last month, Senate Republicans including our state senator Steve Saland voted against overriding the governor’s veto of ethics reform. The Senate debate laid bare the acrimony between Republicans and Democrats, who traded accusations over which party was to blame for blocking ethics reform at a time when several political corruption scandals have reinforced the stereotype that Albany is rife with favor trading and influence peddling.

Read more about Steve Saland’s hypocrisy.