O'Beirne, VanBenschoten running for Margaretville mayor's position
By Brian Sweeney
Carol O’Beirne and John VanBenschoten have announc-ed that they will be running as Margaretville mayoral candidates on March 18.
William Stanton, mayor for the past six years, recently announced that he will not be seeking another term.
Mrs. O’Beirne serves as the executive director of the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce. She said that running for mayor is something she has considered for awhile and she decided to become a candidate when Mayor Stanton declined to run.
“I want Margaretville to be as vibrant a community as it can possibly be. And I want it to be a place where businesses are welcomed and encouraged to grow and expand,” Mrs. O’Beirne commented.
The candidate said she would like to work with others to improve quality of life and to strive to make improvements “so that visitors enjoy a hometown experience and come back again.”
Asked what she feels are the most pressing issues facing the village, Mrs. O’Beirne replied, “I certainly think tax issues are really important – and this economy. I think we’re being challenged more so than ever.”
She added that flooding issues along the Bull Run Stream need to be addressed, as does the lack of water flowing through the center of the village via the Binnekill.
“I think the frustrating thing is that so many of these issues have not been completely resolved for the community. The bottom line is that we have to be able to find the solutions to these problems and I don’t accept that that’s not possible.”
She and her husband, Phil, have owned a home in the Catskills since the 1970s. The O’Beirnes have lived here full time since 1983 and have been Margaretville residents for five-plus years. They are the parents of two adult children.
John VanBenschoten has served as Village of Margaretville trustee for four years and has decided to seek the mayor’s post.
“I’m pretty familiar with all the issues that have been surrounding the village for the past four years and I would like to serve as mayor,” he explained.
Mr. VanBenschoten is employed as an assistant land surveyor for Region 3 of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. He also assists his brother with the operation of the family-run farm in the Town of Andes.
He has lived in Margaretville for seven years, but is part of a fifth-generation of VanBenschotens who trace their roots in the area to the 1880s.
Mr. VanBenschoten said he feels his experience on the village board is a key to helping resolve the issues that come before a village government.
Among the top priorities he sees on the horizon are negotiating on fire protection agreement with the Middletown-Hardenburgh Fire District that is equitable to both sides, completion of plans for a sewer use extension — a topic that stretches back through several administrations.
He said another key issue is the resolution of the eminent domain proceedings that resulted from a dispute with a property owner regarding the village’s rights to remedy a situation in which the Bull Run stream continually dries up during warm periods.
Mr. VanBenschoten said that, if elected, he would continue working with the Catskill Watershed Corporation on its infrastructure and making the appropriate determinations regarding repairs and upgrades.
The candidate said that his familiarity with village law and the rights are important components that he would bring to the mayoral post.
“I think I can contribute to Margaretville’s success and viability,” Mr. VanBenschoten stated. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference and I feel that I can in this job.”
Mr. VanBenschoten said he looks forward to the campaign and wishes the best to his opponent.