Established in 2006, KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen run community group committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency of local government. By providing citizens with timely and factual information, our work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through projects, education, and advocacy.
The 2017 primary election will occur on Tuesday, September 12th. The polls are open from noon – 9:00 pm.
We know that primary elections can be confusing, and that’s why we created a guide intended to help City of Kingston residents successfully vote for their candidate tomorrow. Please be in touch if you notice any errors or to make suggestions in the comment section.
The best of luck to all candidates. Get out and vote Kingston citizens!
Can I vote in in the City of Kingston 2017 primary elections?
In a closed primary a registered voter may vote only in the election for the party with which that voter is affiliated. For example a voter registered as Democratic can vote only in the Democratic primary and a Republican can vote only in the Republican primary.
How can I find what district or ward I live in in the City of Kingston?
Please view the City of Kingston Ward map HERE
How can I find my polling place?
You can find your polling place HERE
What does it mean if someone is listed on the ballot?
When a candidate’s name is listed on the ballot, it means that they are in an actual primary (such as in the Kingston Common Council race in Ward 8). The other ward races are OTB primaries, where only endorsed candidates are listed. The others must be written in.
What does “Opportunity to Ballot” mean? (OTB)
An “Opportunity to Ballot” (or write-in) means voters affiliated with the party that is on the ballot are free to write any individual’s name in. For instance, if you are a Republican and you have the option to write-in a candidate in your ward or district, you may do so instead of voting for the listed candidate. An opportunity to ballot is the result of petitioning within an election district and if valid petitions are submitted with enough signatures, this opens the ballot for a write-in.
Where can I find information about the party’s in this year’s City of Kingston primary race?
In this year’s 2017 City of Kingston Primary races, the following party’s are involved (in alphabetical order):
The Ulster County Conservative party can be found on FACEBOOK.
Not to be confused with the “Independent” party, the Ulster County Independence party can be found on FACEBOOK for more information.
The Ulster County Republican party’s website can be found HERE.
Recently we learned of an inquiry made by the City of Kingston Republican Committee Chair and general practice attorney, Joesph Ingarra. Apparently, he took it upon himself to write to the state Attorney General’s (AG) office, requesting that they investigate KingstonCitizens.org as a Political Action Committee (PAC). He placed his request into a press release sent to several local news outlets to “investigate and report”.
Mr. Ingarra neglected to take the opportunity to reach out to us to clarify his concerns prior to his request to the AG. As a member of the legal profession, one would expect that he would understand the difference between a grass roots group and a PAC.
Here’s what is true.
By Hillary Harvey
In conversations around the City of Kingston, parking is a hot topic.
Uptown, there was a debate around Mayor Steve Noble’s plan to increase parking costs and add meters to municipal lots where there previously had been none, with business owners countering the plan by advocating for free parking. Meter increases went into effect just recently, and parking kiosks are already showing up near their intended municipal lot. In an effort to compromise, the city is also offering parking permits for frequent users of the City of Kingston’s municipal lots. Purchase a parking permit in advance of the installation and activation of new payment stations in six of the City’s municipal lots costs $10, and the permit is valid through December 31, 2017. VIEW
In Midtown, there’s ample parking, according to the city’s consultant for the Comprehensive Plan Zoning subcommittee. And the conversation has pretty much ended there.
By Hillary Harvey
The Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC) recently chose to change its format to allow the public an opportunity to participate on applications in real time, creating a more democratic format for both the applicant and the public. The changes provide a model of a more participatory meeting format that all City of Kingston boards, committees and commissions might consider applying.
Currently, in the City of Kingston, the majority of committees and subcommittees offer public speaking at the discretion of the committee chair. It is possible to reach out to the chair ahead of a meeting to let him/her know that citizens would like time to present comments or questions.
By Rebecca Martin
We had an informative educational panel on July 13 with Dr. Gerald Benjamin of The Benjamin Center and Jennifer Schwartz Berky, principal of Hone Strategic and District 7 Ulster County Legislator discussing Charters and Charter Reform.
To our delight, Dr. Benjamin took the time to mark up Kingston’s current charter which we felt was most important for the public to review. You will find his power point, frame by frame with video that is marked so that you can follow along. The audio isn’t great, but you can still hear. We do recommend headphones.
Recently, a citizen of the City of Kingston who lives near a new proposed Gas Regulating System to be located at 245 Washington Avenue by Central Hudson contacted us with some concerns. Gas and Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) Substations are a part of our landscape in Kingston, given the need for gas and electric in our daily lives.
But process is key, and it was the process that peeked our interest.
By Rebecca Martin
For some time, there has been much furor over the sale of 300 Flatbush Ave. (aka RUPCO’s Alms House Proposal), a property owned by Ulster County.
Lets cut to the chase on a few critical items.
– To be clear, the City of Kingston hasn’t any say as to who the county sells its property to.
– After being on the market for a little over a year, RUPCO made an offer at the listed price for a project they want to create in that location called ‘The Alms House” or “Landmarks Place”. Their goal is for it to become “66 units that would comprise of 14 studio and 20 one-bedroom apartments in the approximately 28,000-square-foot 1870s landmark building at the site and 32 one-bedroom units for people ages 55 and older in the new 42,000-square-foot building.”
– The proposal went in front of the Kingston Planning Board where they determined the project to have a negative declaration in SEQR. In other words, they found it to have no environmental impacts that would require further study.
– As part of Kingston’s code, the Kingston Common Council had 90 days to determine a zoning change that started months ago, with a request for it to be changed from single family to multi-family use. Whether multi-family or commercial, a zoning change will have to be determined in order for it to be placed back into any real use.
– In this case, once a zone change is made, the project site plan can be reviewed by the Kingston Planning Board, and the public will have more opportunities to help to shape the project.
These are the facts, and this is the process.
Come to the public hearing at City Hall, Council Chambers, on Monday, July 10th at 6:00 pm, and weigh in on the latest changes to the proposed Irish Cultural Center (ICC) project.
Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers (top floor)
Monday, July 10th
Sign-up to speak at 5:45pm
If you can’t attend the meeting, you can submit the comments in the body of this EMAIL and any other additional concerns you might have. The email will go directly to the Kingston Planning Board and City of Kingston. We will receive a copy, too, and will compile a packet to submit to the Board at the public hearing on July 10th.
Deadline for email submissions is July 7th.
Public input on this project proposal so far has helped to make for a stronger Irish Cultural Center proposal. The public needs to keep weighing in until the project fully fits the Kingston waterfront community, or the ICC determines another location that is suited to their goals.
By Hillary Harvey
The Irish Cultural Center proposed for Abeel Street on the Rondout in Kingston has just come back to the Planning Board with the latest in a series of updates to their project site plan.
Included are responses to the State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Ulster County Planning Board, all of which were presented at the June 12th City of Kingston Planning Board meeting.
VIDEO: Planning Board Meeting 6/12/2017 VIEW
What the ICC Looks Like Now.
The Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley is proposed to be a 16,213 square foot newly constructed building on a 0.43-acre parcel at 32 Abeel Street with rights, granted by the City of Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to follow the zoning for West Strand Street. New designs indicate a red, brick building of three stories measuring 49.5′ from the Company Hill Path side (South Elevation), with one story underground on the Abeel Street side (North Elevation). There would also be an elevator accessible roof garden, with outdoor seating and a 12’ tall room that rises above the height of the building. On the Company Hill Path side, there would be three full balconies with exterior gathering space that each run the width of the building. The building would be a “community center” with a 171-seat theater, exhibition space, commercial kitchen, 70-seat pub/restaurant, flex space, offices for the ICC and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the ICC’s parent organization), radio station, map room, etc. The project would have 8 on-site parking spots and seek a parking waiver from the Planning Board for 47 parking spaces.
There will be a public hearing on these changes at the City of Kingston’s Planning Board meeting on July 10th, during their regular meeting, and comments can be made via email to the Planning Board before July 7th. We encourage everyone to weigh in.
By Rebecca Martin
We are just about half way through our educational series this year, with this recent panel on “Public Education” that was so enlightening. Did you know that every summer, the Kingston City School District re-writes curriculum to supplement “Engage NY” by selected teachers in the district? Or that only 1% of the school district’s budget is federal dollars?
A special thanks to Robin Jacobowitz and James Shaugnessy for their time and service to our community. As always, to Julie, Peter, Matthew and staff at “Church Des Artistes” for hosting us.
By Hillary Harvey
“A comprehensive plan is known as a general plan, master plan or land-use plan, and is a document designed to engage the public and to guide the future actions of a community. It presents a vision for the future, with long-range goals and objectives for all activities that affect the local government.”
Local politics can be a bit daunting. Various officials play different roles, and multiple boards are responsible for various capacities and processes. All of these interrelated elements differ for each locality. When it comes to learning about local politics, all you have to do is start somewhere.
I started in November 2015, as I sought to catch up on the Irish Cultural Center’s development proposal for my neighborhood, the Rondout.
In trying to understand a specific development proposal, I learned about all the various boards and their roles in the process. In studying the zoning codes of my block in downtown Kingston, and then my neighborhood and the city, I learned that zoning codes are meant to serve as an important protection for residents and home-owners in any community.
So when I first heard about “Kingston 2025,” the city’s Comprehensive Plan efforts to update the city’s original Comprehensive Plan from 1961, I was curious about how it would impact the development proposal I was already studying as it involves a re-evaluation of the city’s zoning codes along with other planning processes.
A little back history. The Comprehensive Plan process began in 2011 as the City of Kingston faced a problem. According to the Comprehensive Plan, known locally as “Kingston 2025,” which was adopted on March 15th, 2016, “Since 1961, the City has made a number of changes to its land use regulations, some proactive based on study and planning, others reactive based on certain evolving trends or in response to specific development proposals.”
There were multiple plans and a ton of documents to cull through, and the city’s planning and zoning policies were no longer holistic.
By Rebecca Martin
Our recent educational forum “On Immigration” was focused around the Ulster County Legislature’s Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government to Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well- Being Of All Persons In Ulster County” structured around ACLU guidelines. VIEW
With guest panelists District #7 Ulster County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Ulster County Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum, it was my favorite educational panel discussion so far this year, where we had the opportunity to focus on a single piece of local legislation with at times two opposing points of view.
Resolution No. 138 is important and worthy, but it doesn’t have the support it needs to pass through committee to the legislative floor. It also doesn’t have the Sheriff’s support for reasons you might not suspect.
Empowered by New York State law and the County charter, the Sheriff’s office is independent in the way of policy making and procedure (though in reviewing the county CHARTER, it does state that “the Sheriff shall have and exercise all the powers and duties heretofore or hereafter lawfully granted or imposed by the Charter, Administrative Code, local law or resolution of the County Legislature“. My interpretation is that the Legislature would have oversight in some cases). In the resolution, there are several points in the model language that the Sheriff feels would infringe upon his office.
I wish that the Ulster County Legislature would have taken its time with this, starting with a small item that they and the Sheriff’s office could agree to. For instance, sensitivity training on immigration by all county officers was something that was brought up on Sunday by a community member. All the while, building support both internally and externally for a Resolution as important as No. 138 to have a fighting chance.
VIEW: Ulster County Resolution No. 138
VIEW: Jennifer Schwartz Berky Powerpoint on Immigration
VIEW: ACLU Model State and Local Law Enforcement Policies and Rules
VIEW: “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Guidance Concerning Local Authority Participation in Immigration Enforcement and Model Sanctuary Provisions”
VIEW: 10th Amendment
VIEW: Ulster County Charter Article XX “Sheriff”
By Rebecca Martin
How can we improve local government? By becoming more civic-minded rather than a single issue participant and attending regular, monthly meetings of both the Ulster County Legislature and City of Kingston Common Council. That’s a potent and simple place to start.
To help you to get on your way, KingstonCitizens.org has put together a schedule of 2017 for both elected bodies. “Many hands make light work” as they say. If each of us attended one or two meetings a year and shared what we witnessed – the landscape would look and feel very different.
Here are simple steps you can take to become a more engaged, local citizen.
- Sign up for the dates and times that are most convenient for your schedule (see below)
- Attend meetings. Make sure you check the calendar prior to attending, as all dates/times are subject to change (see below). Make sure you add the dates to your personal calendar so you are reminded of your commitments.
- Write a one-page (or more) summation of your experience. What happened that evening? How many citizens were present? Did you speak during public comment? What issues were discussed? What significant decisions were made? What did you learn and what outcome would you like to see on the issues that were discussed that evening?
- Submit your piece to KingstonCitizens.org: firstname.lastname@example.org to be shared in our “Citizen Opinions” section (rules apply).
- We can help you to identify your council and legislative representatives and will encourage you to send a copy of your report directly to them as well.
- Ulster County Legislature: Dem/Rep Caucus and Regular Legislative Session
- Kingston Common Council: Caucus and Regular Meeting
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Join us in becoming familiar with local government.
By Rebecca Martin
Last evening, with a 13/9 vote, the Ulster County Legislature banned memorializing resolutions. Although our group is deeply disappointed in the outcome, we will apply our new knowledge about the legislature to our work throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.
Outside of a ban on memorializing resolutions, we learned that Local Law 18 from 2016 (Law Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity) had been held back in the Laws and Rules Committee for over a year. In other words, a simple public hearing on transgender rights was stalled and in essence, denied.
In other news, what appeared to be a dozen or so members of a local sportsman club in attendance, the group appeared to mostly be there to oppose Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government And Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well-Being Of All Persons In Ulster County“. Illustrating the law as Ulster County becoming a ‘sanctuary county’, at one point during public testimony, a member of the group stated, “…We know you will do the right thing. #138 has to go down. We have your back. Thank you very much” (VIEW Tape #2 @ 21:00)
It was an evening that left me questioning motives. Why would our elected officials wish to limit free speech? Or deny the public a chance for public comment on gender equality? Or, be opposed to wanting to ensure “protection, order, conduct safety, health and well-being of all persons living in Ulster County”? I haven’t any answers, only a sense. Control and fear. Both will wreck havoc, too. The public must remain diligent.
KingstonCitizens.org is seeking volunteers who are interested in attending monthly Ulster County Legislature meetings and report back to the public via KingstonCitizens.org. It’s our goal to build a larger base of public participation and, as always, encourage new potential candidates. All legislature seats are up for election in November, 2017.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact email@example.com
Special thanks to Clark Richters of the Kingston News for helping us to document the evening.
Those in favor of a ban on memorializing resolutions were (RED: Republican, Conservative, etc; BLUE: Democrat):
District 1 (Town of Saugerties) Mary Wawro
District 3 (Town of Saugerties/Town of Ulster) Dean Fabiano
District 4 (Town of Ulster/Town of Kingston) James Maloney
District 8 (Town of Esopus) Carl Belfiglio
District 9 (Town of Lloyd/Town of Plattekill) Herbert Litts III
District 10 (Town of Lloyd/Town of Marlboro) Mary Beth Maio
District 11 (Town of Marlboro) Richard Gerentine
District 12 (Town of Plattekill) Kevin Roberts
District 13 (Town of Shawangunk) Ken Ronk
District 14 (Town of Shawangunk/Town of Wawarsing) Craig Lopez
District 18 (Town of Hurley/Town of Marbletown) Richard Parete
District 21 (Town of Rochester/Town of Wawarsing) Ronald G. Lapp
District 22 (Town of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive, and Shandaken) John Parete
District 2 (Town of Saugerties/Village of Saugerties) Chris Allen
District 5 (City of Kingston) Peter Loughran
District 6 (City of Kingston) Dave Donaldson
District 7 (City of Kingston) Jennifer Schwartz Berky
District 16 (Town of Gardiner/Town of Shawangunk) Tracey Bartels
District 17 (Town of Esopus/Town of New Paltz) Jim Delaune
District 19 (Town of Marbletown/Town of Rosendale) Manna Jo Greene
District 20 (Town of New Paltz/Village of New Paltz) Hector Rodriguez
District 23 (Town of Woodstock) Jonathan Heppner
District 15 (Town of Wawarsing, Town of Ellenville) Thomas Briggs
VIDEO: Resolution No. 91 “Amending the Rules of Order to Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”
VIEW: Legislative Discussion/Debate
VIEW: Ken Ronk and David Donaldson
VIEW: Jennifer Schwartz Berky
Public Comment Highlights:
VIEW: Amy Fradon, Ban on Memorializing Resolution
VIEW: County GOP Chair Roger Rascoe, Ban on Memorializing Resolutions
VIEW: Candace Teetsel and Friend, Local Law 18 of 2016
VIEW: Jeff Rindler, ED of HV LGBTQ, Local Law 18 of 2016
VIEW: Evie Starr, Local Law 18 of 2016
CALL TO ACTION.
Legislative Members VIEW
Please call your Ulster County Legislator today and ask that they reject Resolution No. 91 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” on April 18th. “It is important to me that you do not support a ban on the memorializing resolution process. A ban is undemocratic and infringes on my first amendment right to petition.”
Plan to attend the next Ulster County regular legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00 pm at the Ulster County Office Building located at 244 Fair Street, 6th Floor in Kingston, NY. Arrive at 6:30 pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. Citizens are encouraged to create a two (2) minute testimony that is respectful and succinct.
In March of 2017, Resolution No. 91, a proposed ban on memorializing resolutions, had its first reading (see video below). In order to change a local law, that’s step one in the process. On April 18th, the resolution will be read a final time before it goes to vote.
Here are the facts. (**)
Is a letter from the legislature as effective as a memorializing resolution?
No. Memorializing resolutions must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislature by the sponsor(s), along with all other business of the session, by a specific deadline. The appropriate standing committee is chosen based on the issue. It is placed on the committee agenda and discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting, which is open to the public. The members of the committee have the opportunity to discuss the MR in committee before voting to send it to the “floor” of the legislature for a vote in the upcoming session. A letter is not an act of the legislature that invites group discussion in committee, requires a vote by that committee to be sent to the floor, and is then a part of the public process where the public sees the memorializing resolution and can attend the session to weigh in.
Why do proponents of the ban on Memorializing Resolutions claim that they take up too much time during regular legislative sessions?
In 2016, the rules were changed prohibiting discussion on Memorializing Resolutions during the legislative session. However, procedure allows for members to call for a “long roll” (i.e., a one-by-one vote) so that they may speak on the issue. KingstonCitizens.org believes that engaging in debate in a way that represents and involves the public is the legislature’s business. They are protecting our “right to petition” by creating an opportunity for our voices to be heard and for our petitions to have a real forum. A ban on memorializing resolutions discredits public participation, civic dialogue, due process and the First Amendment.
Why are memorializing resolutions important?
Memorializing resolutions are statements of principles that do not become a local law or policy. They are “non-binding”. It is, effectively, a petition by one legislative body to other legislative bodies and lawmakers to provide a mechanism that allow citizens and the legislature to take a stand on important issues.
Why do the ban’s sponsors claim that Memorializing Resolutions have been used as a political tool?
The sponsors have said that memorializing resolutions were used recently by the Democratic Caucus to polarize the legislative body over issues we have no control over. Memorializing resolutions are a governing tool. Governing tools are non-partisan.
Two controversial memorializing resolutions were recently sponsored by Republicans and passed by the majority of the Ulster County Legislature. One, in fact, just occurred in March of this year. It was Resolution No. 92 “Requesting The New York State Legislature Introduce Legislation Expanding The Hate Crimes Law, New York Penal Law §485.05” (March 22, 2017). The other was Resolution No. 253 “Opposing The Process Of Enactment And Certain Provisions Contained Within The New York SAFE Act” (June 16th, 2015).
VIEW “Commentary: Ban on Memorializing Resolutions in Ulster County Legislature is Undemocratic” by Jennifer Schwartz Berky (Kingston Times, March 22, 2017)
VIDEO: Ulster County Laws and Rules Committee Discuss Prohibiting Memorializing Resolutions Legislative Session
VIDEO: Ulster County Legislature 3/22/17: First Reading of Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions
“It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the environmental threats coming from this administration. We have never had a head of the EPA so hostile towards the mission of the agency, and never had a President so unwilling to make decisions based on science and law.”
– Kate Hudson, Waterkeeper Alliance
KingstonCitizens.org’s recent community educational forum “PART II: On Climate Change, Energy and Infrastructure” was at capacity. Our special guest Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper helped participants understand better what was a stake today and what citizens can do.
VIEW video from the event.
Please be sure to visit our upcoming SCHEDULE to learn more about future community educational forums.
Special thanks to Kate Hudson for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.
VIEW: KingstonCitizens.org’s “Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws”
8:46 – 11:25
Introduction: On KingstonCitizens.org’s Community Educational Forum Series