Saturday, August 21, 2010

Town of Olive Republican

I wrote up the first issue of a newsletter for the Town of Olive Republican Committee last night. Here it is in its entirety. Please feel free to offer suggestions or comments.

As a Republican living in the Town of Olive you may be wondering where the Committee has been all these years. It has been intermittently active because of the dominance of the Democrats here. However, several opportunities are opening up. First, the GOP won the county legislature this past year. Second, the Democrats’ self-destructive policies are causing economic decline. The Obama administration has proven itself fiscally irresponsible. Since 1990 Ulster County’s employment has grown at nearly a zero rate. During the same period the nation’s rate of employment has grown 20 percent. The difference is due to the Democrats’ high taxes and heavy handed regulation. Rather than step back and assess the Democrats’ failure here, Congressman Hinchey advocates adding more job-killing environmental regulation, a federal park that will cripple the region’s economy.

Interview with Chet Scofield, Town Republican Chair

Chet Scofield, chairman of the Town of Olive Republican Committee, is a lifelong resident of Olive and owner of Snyder’s Tavern on 28A. He graduated from Onteora High School in 1964 and worked for Rotron and then as an engineer with Ulster County’s Highway Department from 1977 to 2002. He became involved with politics in 2002, when he ran for Highway Superintendant. I cornered Chet during a slow moment at Snyder’s.

Langbert: What got you into politics, Chet?

Scofield: I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going. I ran for highway superintendant in 2001. I joined the committee at the same time. I wanted a voice as to what was going on in politics. There was some disorganization in those years and the committee has had trouble getting off the ground. The committee was functioning sporadically between 2002 and 2008. We havent run a full slate of candidates in years and we are looking for candidates.

L: What is the role of the Town of Olive Republican Committee?

S: To find and promote viable Town candidates and to work with the County chair in supporting county, state and national level candidates.

L: What have been the problems in finding Republican candidates here in Olive?

S: It hasn’t been easy. The Democrats are dominant here because a sizable number have moved here from New York City. But independents are now the chief force and outnumber both the Democrats and Republicans (note: independents are NOT affiliated with the Independence Party; rather, independents have no party or are not of party, NOP. They represent close to 40 percent of the vote in Olive).

L: How would you describe your political views?

S: Pretty conservative. I dislike taxes. They are a necessary evil but by and large they are overdone.

L: What’s your opinion of Roe v. Wade?

S: Personally, I am not in favor of abortion. But I’m not rigid. I don’t know how I would feel about a candidate who met all of my other criteria as to favoring smaller government but also favored abortion.

L: Should abortion be illegal?

S: Other than for rape, I think it should.

L: What’s your position on the federal deficit?

S: The federal government should stop spending, repeal the health care law and let the private sector create jobs without interference.

L: What is our strategy for rebuilding the Olive GOP?

S: I hope to build a bigger group. We need to collect more people. We need members and ideas. We need to expose the waste in the Olive Town government to bring independents to our way of thinking. According to a reliable Town source Onteora is spending $31,000 per student. In comparison, the national average is $10,259.

L: How open are you to finding new blood to serve on the committee and to run for Town office?

S: Very.

L: Thank you very much, Chet.

Interview with Robin Yess, Executive Director, Ulster County Republican Committee

I met with Robin Yess at her professional office in uptown Kingston. Robin grew up in Dutchess County. She moved to Esopus in 1979. She graduated from New Paltz High School in 1982. She attended Empire State College in the 1990s and is two English credits away from her degree. She also attended the College for Financial Planning from which she obtained a Certified Financial Planning degree. She has passed the prestigious Certified Financial Planning (CFP) certification examination. She is a self-employed financial planner and a divorce financial analyst.

Langbert: What got you into politics, Robin?

Yess: Taxes. Seeing a trend with my clients. Seeing them leave Ulster County because of high taxes and fiscal mismanagement. This was back in 2004. I’ve been involved with the Ulster County Republican Committee since 2007.

L: You ran for Assembly in 2008. Are you thinking of running again?

Y: My skills and abilities are better suited to working within the GOP. It’s even more my calling than being a financial planner, which I’m very good at. I love politics.

L: What do you see as the role of town committees such as the Town of Olive Republican Committee?

Y: There are four areas that are critical. The most important is carrying petitions. Carrying petitions is the most important thing a committee person does. As well, the Town Committee needs to recruit candidates for local offices. Third, the committee needs to work with the county committee to serve as a conduit to the town, in your case the Town of Olive. Fourth, fundraising is important too.

L: What are ways that committees fund raise?

Y: They hold events; barbecues; field trips. There should be a regular schedule of events

L. What do you need to do to get onto the Town Committee?

Y: You need to carry petitions.

L: How many signatures do you need to get?

Y: Five percent of the registered Republicans in the district.

L: When I was petitioning in Olivebridge this year, many Republicans refused to sign petitions. Is that normal?

Y: It’s odd. You need to explain that that’s how candidates get on the ballot. If they don’t sign, there is no two-party system.

L: What is your vision for the Ulster County Committee for the next 5-10 years?

Y: Filling the Ulster County Committee (raising a full committee for every town). There are twenty towns in Ulster County plus the City of Kingston. That’s 21 committees. If the Ulster County committee was full we’d have 328 people but currently we have 179, about 55%. My goal is to get to work filling the seats on the Town Committees.

L: How many are on the Town of Olive Committee?

Y: Two out of 10 seats are filled.

L: How does the GOP determine the number of seats in each town?

Y: It’s based on population. The City of Kingston has 54 while the Town of Kingston has two. Saugerties has 32. But the towns’ votes are weighted by their Republican vote. The City of Kingston has 1446 weighted votes while Saugerties has 1834 weighted votes because their Republican vote is better. Working committee people can increase their town’s voice.

L: What rewards can a committee person expect?

Y: There’s no financial reward. People who want change, who want to support Republican candidates, who want to contribute to the nation’s future, who want smaller government and less taxes have reasons to get involved.

L: Whom do you support for governor?

Y: Whom do I support or who is going to win? Paladino has a better shot. As a taxpayer, I think Paladino is better. Cuomo is too connected politically as a career politician. Lazio is recycled. We need new people. Republicans have sometimes had tunnel vision. The question that should have been asked before the state convention nominated Lazio is “Can Lazio win?” You can’t run for office if you’re lining your pockets as a lobbyist.

L: How would you describe your political views?

Y: I lean toward the libertarian side. I’m a strong fiscal conservative. Smaller government. Less and fewer taxes. Government should not be involved with social issues like abortion. The GOP should not have a position on abortion. Government should not be involved with the marriage situation (gay marriage). I would like to see equal treatment for gays. As a financial planner I have seen gays mistreated. I am in favor of civil unions and believe that everyone should receive equal treatment. The national GOP platform no longer includes abortion. People should be free to worship, etc. as long as they are not harming anybody.

L: Thank you, Robin.

About the Newsletter Author

You may have seen my frequent letters to the Olive Press and my columns in the Lincoln Eagle, the Republican penny saver, which is distributed for free at Shokan Turf and Timber, Al Higgly’s fruit stand, Winchell’s, Russ’s Diner, Snyder’s Tavern, the Phoenicia diner, and the Boiceville gas station. I grew up in New York City. While I was in high school I developed an interest in libertarian politics. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College I worked for the International Nickel Company (now Vale-Inco) and became involved with the Libertarian Party. Libertarians believe in limited government and low taxes. In the 1980s I worked for Johnson and Johnson and City Federal Savings and Loan in employee benefit administration. Between 1976 and 1979 I earned an MBA in insurance at night at the College of Insurance (now St. John’s University School of Risk and Insurance). Then, I attended the UCLA Graduate School of Management, where I obtained an MBA in general management. In 1986 I attended the Columbia Business School, where I earned a Ph.D. in labor relations in 1991. In 1990 I became a Democrat to work on the Carol Bellamy for Comptroller campaign. Although Bellamy lost, I was appointed to the staff of the ways and means committee of the New York State Assembly, where I worked as a Democrat during 1991. Because I released a memorandum advocating cost reduction for Medicaid, I was fired, becoming the only Democratic ways and means staffer to be fired during the previous 25 years. The same year I was appointed to the business faculty of Clarkson University in northern New York, and from then on I have been a registered Republican. I also have taught at Iona College, Dowling College, Troy State University and New York University. I am currently a tenured professor at Brooklyn College, a campus of the City University of New York. I became active in politics again in 2006 and have worked with Candace de Russy, former SUNY trustee, and the National Association of Scholars. My blog, “Mitchell Langbert’s Blog” at, has had over 230,000 independent visits since March 2008. As well, I have published in such journals as the Journal of Economic Issues, Journal of Labor Research, Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, Benefits Quarterly, Journal of Business Ethics/Journal of Value-Based Management, the New York Sun, the Times Herald Record, the Yale Economic Review and the Cornell Human Resource management Review. I write a monthly column for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Career Insider Newsletter. Recently, the Canadian Broadcasting Company interviewed me concerning a strike at Vale Inco. I have appeared on NPR, New York One, the Fox Morning Show, CBS radio, and WOR TV. I am married and have lived in West Shokan since 1997, full time since 2009. I joined the Committee in 2009. My first acquaintance with Olive was in 1964, when I was a camper at Camp Hurley in Olivebridge.

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