Valk survives GOP caucus challenge

By Connor Linskey
Posted 7/21/21

“This was I think the largest caucus we’ve had in a long, long time,” said Roger Rascoe, chairman of the Ulster County Republican Committee and a member of the Town of Shawangunk …

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Valk survives GOP caucus challenge

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“This was I think the largest caucus we’ve had in a long, long time,” said Roger Rascoe, chairman of the Ulster County Republican Committee and a member of the Town of Shawangunk Republican Committee.

Residents swarmed the Town of Shawangunk Republican Caucus on Monday evening to nominate candidates for town offices for the general election this November. The large crowd gathered out the door at Wallkill Senior High School and caused a delay, as each was confirmed a registered voter.
When the event got underway, John Valk Jr. was nominated for town supervisor.

“John has worked hard over the years with the town board members, department heads, town police and residents to make this town the wonderful place that it is...,” said Martin Hand, former town highway superintendent. “He has always put the best interest of the whole town at the front.”

Joe LoCicero, current town highway superintendent and chief of the Wallkill Fire Department, was also nominated for town supervisor.

“We are people of our community and we are not afraid to volunteer,” said Joe’s wife Colleen LoCicero. “Whether it is with baseball, soccer, the fire service, the school board, which Joe currently is president of, or lacrosse, we are not afraid to help when needed.”

This proved to be a close vote, with Valk edging LoCicero by a tally of 184 to 181.

Incumbent Kevin Hunt earned the Republican Party nomination for town justice by defeating challenger David Davis. Hunt earned 208 votes while Davis received 145.

“He continues to research the ever-changing procedures and laws that the court administration issues,” Valk said. “Kevin feels that the town courts are the closest to the people. The majority of those that appear in local courts are good, law-abiding people who have made a mistake… Shawangunk is one of the safest towns in the region due to the excellent policing and good court procedures.”

Two Republican Party nominations for town councilman were given at the caucus. Incumbent Adrian Dewitt and challenger Alex Dannon earned the nominations by receiving 270 and 164 votes respectively. Incumbent Matthew Watkins felt short, as he earned 149 votes.

“He has been instrumental in working on recreational areas and our park areas,” Town Assessor Curt Schoeberl said regarding Dewitt. “I think that we all realize that we’re very park rich here in town and we have some great parks and great recreational facilities. You only have to go out in the morning to the rail trail to see the cars who pile up there… The crown jewel of our parks is Verkeerderkill Park on the western side of town. If you go there on a Saturday or Sunday or any afternoon you’ll see so many families there that are enjoying that facility.”

Joe DeGroodt nominated Dannon for town councilman because of his strong leadership abilities. Dannon led the Wallkill Senior High School boys varsity lacrosse team to a Section IX title.

“He is a tremendous leader and role model for our young residents and students,” DeGroodt said. “It is that dedication and work ethic that he will bring to our town.”

As a member of the town planning board, Dannon has also helped small businesses work through zoning issues to get them up and running.

In addition, Jane Rascoe received the Republican Party nomination for town clerk without any opposition. Richard Blazeski also faced no challengers in his pursuit of the Republican Party nomination for highway superintendent.

After the Republican Caucus, the Town of Shawangunk Conservative Caucus convened to nominate their candidates for town offices in the November general election. Unlike the Republican Caucus, all of the Conservative Party nominations were uncontested. Blazeski received the Conservative Party nomination for highway superintendent and Kevin Hunt earned the party nomination for town justice. Dewitt was the only town councilman candidate to receive the Conservative Party nomination. Valk and Rascoe received the Conservative Party nominations for town supervisor and town clerk.

“I appreciate your support,” Rascoe said after receiving the nomination. “I will continue to do the best job I can.”

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