Knox Election 2017: Ken Saddlemire for town council

KNOX — Ken Saddlemire, a Democrat who is running on the Republican line, is now making his second run for town council. In 2016, Saddlemire ran a write-in campaign to fill a vacant sea, but lost to Dan Hanley. Saddlemire will again run against Hanley and Hanley’s running mate, Brett Pulliam, who are both backed by the Democrats.

Saddlemire, 56, is a fourth-generation dairy farmer. His home on Becker Road was once the home of his great-grandfather. Saddlemire graduated from Berne-Knox-Westerlo in 1978, and then obtained a degree in agricultural engineering at the State University of New York at Morrisville in 1980. He then returned to work on his family’s farm.

The farm is currently maintained by Saddlemire, with help in the summers from his son, a teacher, and two younger neighbors. He has 76 cows and milks 40 to 45, he said. As part of the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, the milk from his farm is delivered and sold to various processors.

Saddlemire has also been a member of the Knox Volunteer Fire Company for 32 years, and of the Helderberg Ambulance squad for the last three years. In the past, he has served as chief of the fire company and believes his experience in obtaining grants to help purchase equipment such as fire trucks and extrication equipment, will serve him well on the town council.

“I think that there’s a real opportunity here,” said Saddlemire, of a chance to work with initiatives such as the town’s comprehensive plan, which he describes as “the blueprints of the future.”

Saddlemire also said that he would like to represent first responders on the town board, as a member of both the local fire department and ambulance service.

“We need to be concerned about our volunteers and our emergency personnel,” he said.

Saddlemire also said he feels he could represent farmers, and promote conservation alongside development as he has done on his farm. He would like to represent landowners who might be concerned about property taxes as he is.

Regarding the business districts, Saddlemire said the current business district does not have anything wrong with it except its lack of space.

“There’s not really enough room for any kind of development,” he said.

Saddlemire said he feels that there are “limited possibilities” in the hamlet district, and there is not room for new construction or remodeling a facility.

He said that the town board seems to be split in a decision on new business districts.

“I understand there are environmental concerns … ,” he said, but added, “I’m a conservationist, not an environmentalist.”

Saddlemire said that there are ways that businesses can work alongside environmental conservation, noting again the plans he has had to develop at his farm to allow for environmental conservation. Regarding water quality, he said there are methods such as sediment-retention structures and other forms of water control.

“You need to be open-minded and you need to look at that … ,” he said. “There's programs out there,” he added, naming Cornell Cooperative Extension or state and county programs.

On the capital project, Saddlemire said that the town board should be making decisions on what should be funded and what projects should be taking place before looking at funds.

“This is all materials and stuff that should have been considered before the grant was ever applied for,” he said, adding that he has not seen a consensus among the town board on this matter.

Saddlemire said the grant was a good idea, but added a “a little more thought needed to be put into it.”

Saddlemire said the town needs to maintain the transfer station as the landfill fills up and is expected to close soon.

Regarding the highway garage, which he acknowledged has problems with its structure and water, Saddlemire said he was not sure if it is best to put money into the current structure, though he has not ruled that out.

“I would like to see some more ideas,” he said.

He said that he would be concerned about the town losing its identity should the town and county share services or share facilities. He also said that the town workers know and understand the various issues and “problem spots” in the towns when it comes to road work.

“They have a little personal pride,” he said, of the workers. “I think that those are all things that you’re going to lose if you have outside people coming in.”

Regarding tax revaluation, Saddlemire said that he felt it is not needed in Knox. However, he said that he would like to see more frequent assessment of properties. Newcomers are assessed higher because they have a new assessment, and there wouldn’t be a large discrepancy between similar properties if the assessments happen more frequently than when it changes hands.

On the tax cap, Saddlemire said he would not be in favor of going beyond that.

“It would have to be some kind of natural catastrophe that we could have to recover from,” he said.

On solid waste, Saddlemire said it is an issue that has to be addressed on a larger scale, at either the state or county level.

“Many other towns and municipalities use that,” he said, of the Albany City Landfill.

Efforts have already been taken to reduce waste, he said, such as recycling and hazardous waste day. But he concluded that the answer would have to come from the New York State government.

“It’s going to be a statewide issue,” he said. “We’re not isolated when they close this landfill.”

Saddlemire concluded that it is important to support youth in the town, with programs at the town park, the library, and bringing in more internet access. He also said that senior programs such as dinners, the senior bus, and other organizations are important to support. He added that people in military service and veterans need to be provided services such as health services and tax relief, as well.

“I feel the time is important to get involved,” he concluded.

 

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