Ithaca Times

Ulysses Dems Nominate Klingon for Town Council

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Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:14 am

On Monday, August 26 the Ulysses Democratic caucus nominated and voted on their candidates for the fall election in a packed meeting at the Trumansburg village hall. Incumbent town supervisor Elizabeth Graeper Thomas will be running for a full four-year term. Carissa Parlato will seek the office of town clerk. The Democrats cross-endorsed current highway superintendent James Meeker, the Republican candidate. Two town council seats carry four-year terms, and the assembled Democrats nominated incumbent Nancy Zahler and newcomer Rich Goldman. Both accepted their nominations. The high profile candidate of the evening was actor John Hertzler, who will be running for a two-year term on the Ulysses council.

Hertzler moved to Ulysses several years ago when he was appointed as an adjunct professor in the Cornell department of film and theater. Before beginning his career in film, theater, television, the Bucknell graduate worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. during the Nixon administration, while regularly engaging in political activism on the Mall. He has been an active campaigner for many years, working for both Democrat George McGovern and independent John Anderson. He became involved with the local Democrats soon after moving to the area. As he is best known for his portrayal of General Martok in various Star Trek episodes, his nominator Jim Dennis described him as “the only Klingon general living in Ulysses.”

In his acceptance speech Hertzler said that he was humbled by the nomination and he promised to continue to oppose hydro-fracking in the region via his Facebook page (he has 4,000 friends). He thanked Cornell biologist Bob Howarth (who was present) for providing so much useful information on the subject.

Thomas became town supervisor in April with the resignation of Roxanne Marino. The councilwoman had served six years, the last two as a deputy supervisor. In her acceptance speech she did not mention any town-specific topics, but instead cited her work opposing hydro-fracking, which she said “can't be done safely with current regulations, and can't be done cost effectively if subject to full environmental regulations.” She stated that the grassroots activism was important because federal and state energy policy is so “fragmented.” Thomas said she holds gas exploration crews to the same standard as campers; they should leave nothing behind.

Parlato has worked for Ulysses youth services for 13 years and has been in charge of programming for high school students. Thomas, in her nomination, said, “The things that she does with nothing for so many kids is amazing.” She praised Parlato's “top notch” writing skills, citing her writing of successful grant proposals. Thomas stressed that Parlato has technical skills that are needed to update the town's website and maintain electronic databases. In her own acceptance speech Parlato noted her experience with a wide socio-economic spectrum through her work at youth services, her financial experience through running her own small business for the past three years, and she vowed to make information from the town more accessible.

Howarth announced his personal opposition to the cross-endorsement of Meeker who he believes is not sufficiently progressive. Howarth cited Meeker's lack of interest in putting solar panels on the roof of the town highway barn. Meeker, however, received praise from both county legislator Dennis and councilman Dave Kerness for his record of cooperation and efficiency, and in the end Howarth was the lone dissenting vote in the room.

Zahler joined the Ulysses town board when Thomas moved to supervisor in April. Marino had previously invited her to be involved with town government, first on a committee that organized home repairs to low-income families and then on a committee that examined the internal workings of the town government. Since moving to Trumansburg 25 years ago she has run the Ulysses Christmas Bureau, which collects donations to redistribute to needy family at the holiday. In 2010 she retired after being director of county youth services for 30 years.

“Local government is where we can get the most done,” said Zahler. “Issues tend to divide people, but tasks tend to unite people.”

Rich Goldman has lived in Waterburg since 1991. He came to Ithaca in 1968 to attend Cornell and, after running various businesses - including founding the first bagel bakery in Ithaca in 1973 - he settled into financial services and has been with Morgan Stanley for 25 years. His nominator cited Goldman's experience with financial matters as his most important potential contribution to town governance. Goldman himself said that he loved the town and the environment and wanted to keep it the way it was “without too much industrialization.” He is opposed to hydro-fracking.

The meeting was chaired by former county sheriff Peter Meskill, and councilwoman Lucia Tyler served as secretary. At the end of the evening Trumansburg resident and county judge candidate Joe Cassidy thanked the Ulysses Democrats for their endorsement and county legislator Jim Dennis announced his bid for re-election.

Ulysses Republican candidates include Meeker and incumbent town clerk Marsha Georgia. They have no candidates for town council because the Democrats contested their petitions at the county board of elections. According to deputy commissioner Kari Stamm, it was determined in a hearing that the Republicans failed to indicate on their petitions which candidate was running for a four-year term and which for a two-year term.

A third party called Ulysses Community has nominated two candidates for town council: Beth J. Warner for the two-year term and George W. Breuhaus for the four-year term.

Thomas is unopposed in her bid to serve a full term as the town supervisor.

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