Knox: Full slates offer varied views

Highway Superintendent Gary Salisbury is running for an eighth two-year term.

KNOX — In a hotly contested election here, there are full slates for the town board.

The Republican slate is headed by a Democrat who has tried unsuccessfully for two election cycles to get Democratic backing. Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis, a businessman, is proud of the work he has done, surveying the needs of the town facilities, cutting back on expenses, and seeking grants such as one for a new playground.

He was elected two years ago, ousting the long-term Democratic supervisor, on a platform of growth. He is pushing for new business districts, believing that will spur commercial development.

He is being challenged by Councilwoman Amy Pokorny, who heads the Democratic slate. In her five years on the town board, Pokorny did the lion’s share of the work in surveying town residents about updating Knox’s quarter-century-old comprehensive land-use plan. She has taken on tasks ranging from recycling programs to applying for a grant that is set to bring $130,000 to Knox to use for conserving energy.

Retired from a career in social services, she and her husband used to run the Knox country store and now have a venue for large gatherings.

The council candidates on the Democratic line are incumbent Democrat Daniel Hanley, a teacher, and Brett Pulliam, a carpenter who is not enrolled in a political party; a long-time planning board member, he is making his first run for office.

On the Republican slate are two candidates who have not been elected before. Ken Saddlemire, a Democrat, in a 2-16 write-in campaign came close to beating Hanley for a seat left vacant; he is a dairy farmer. Karl Pritchard, a mechanic with a business in Knox, is not enrolled in a political party and is making his first run for office.

Two other contests in Knox are:

— For town clerk: Between incumbent Democrat Tara Murphy and Traci Schanz, an Independence Party member running on the GOP line; and

— For town justice: Between incumbent Democrat Jean Gagnon, and Republican Timothy Francis.

For Knox tax collector, incumbent Diane Champion, a Democrat, is endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Likewise, for Knox highway superintendent, Gary Salisbury, a Republican, is endorsed by both the GOP and the Democrats.

About 40 percent of registered voters in Knox are Democrats, about 22 percent are Republicans, and about 27 percent are not affiliated with a party; the rest belong to small parties.

The issues

The Enterprise asked each of the candidates about these issues:

— Business districts: Knox currently has one business district with no open businesses in it. One proposed district was voted down by the board two months ago, and another proposed district will be voted on this month. Do you believe Knox needs more businesses to succeed? What is the best way to bring businesses in? Do you believe the proposed business districts would benefit Knox? Has the town board properly addressed concerns posed by the planning board and Conservation Advisory Council, and shown the proper protocol when these other boards recommended against the district?;

— Capital projects: How should the town fund and carry out repairs and renovations to its facilities? Should a $130,000 Climate Smart Communities grant be spent on town facilities? Was the town right in opting out of sharing facilities with the county? What should the timeline be in fixing these facilities, and which structures take priority?;

— Property revaluation: Knox’s last townwide property revaluation was in 1997, which can cause newcomers to pay an unfair share of taxes. Are the town’s property tax rates fairly set, or does the town need a revaluation?;

— Tax cap: Should the town ever vote to go above the state-set 2-percent levy limit cap, and what would the situation have to be to do so?; and

— Solid-waste management: What is the solution to two converging problems: an overflow of trash at the transfer station, and the loss in five years of the Albany landfill as a site for Knox’s waste?

More Hilltowns News

  • At Knox’s upcoming meeting on Jan. 1, the town board — with newly elected members that ran with the Republican-backed supervisor — will be selecting a new town attorney, a new zoning board chair, and possibly several other positions. The supervisor has said he has received over 20 applications so far.

  • The town supervisor said Rensselaerville is left with three options now: choose its own judge, have the state select a replacement, or wait until November.

  • The prospective buyer of a Knox property in foreclosure called the outcry over the land sale a “political hit job.”