For Kevin Mulqueen, the November 7 election for the Orange County Legislature is the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
Mulqueen, a certified financial planner and pastor of two United Methodist churches, is pledging to “bring honesty, integrity and transparency to county government,” traits the current government has forgotten, according to him.
Mulqueen is running against Stephen Brescia, current Chairman of the Legislature and Mayor of the Village of Montgomery for the past 27 years. Brescia’s extensive track record with the community doesn’t mean he’s the best fit for the job, according to Mulqueen. Brescia thinks otherwise.
Brescia, who has 30 years of business and government experience, has focused on taxes, public safety and economic development during his tenure as Chairman of the Orange County Legislature and Mayor of the Village of Montgomery. If re-elected, Brescia plans on continuing to keep an eye on the county’s finances, help fight the county’s opioid crisis and build infrastructure by increasing the frequency of bridge construction.
“I’ve been in the legislature for almost 24 years,” said Brescia. “I have much more experience in getting things done and I have a proven track record to show it. We’ve managed to stay below the tax cap for the past seven years and we’ve doubled the county fund balance from $22 million up to $44 million in the last three years, which is very important.”
“The government over taxes to begin with,” says Mulqueen. “They’re overtaxing and have money left over. Now they can manipulate the numbers to show a low tax rate or a tax cut. It’s all manipulation.”
Mulqueen, although a newcomer to the Orange County Legislature race, has been involved with local government for more than 24 years. He’s been a Town of Wallkill Councilman, President of the Valley Central School Board, Village of Walden Trustee, Village of Walden IDA Chairman and President of the Walden Housing Development Corporation. Some of his campaign promises include shutting down back room deals, helping working families and fighting for women’s equality.
A common issue both Mulqueen and Brescia have talked about is the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation in Goshen, which is owned and operated by the county. The nursing home was embroiled in a long four year battle over whether to transfer it over to a Local Development Corporation (LDC) ownership, a private entity, who would sell the nursing home.
Brescia, who voted for the transfer, credits his efforts at Valley View for the county’s low tax rates.
“By voting for the transfer we were able to make Valley View more positive in respect to county taxation,” said Brescia. “We cut expenses there. We have less employees there due to four early retirement and separation agreements. When you make that agreement you’re able to let some of the old time employees go. Now, we’re running it more efficiently with better management.”
On the opposite side of the issue, Mulqueen thinks voting to transfer Valley View would lessen the quality of care residents receive.
“I had a client come into my office today and complain about the care she was receiving from a privately-owned nursing home in Orange County,” he said. “In Valley View, there’s a healthcare professional that covers six patients. But, in the other nursing home every healthcare professional covers 8.2 patients. That means that the response rate is slower and that residents aren’t getting good care. That’s what will happen to Valley View. If you sell it to a private individual, they’re going to reduce staffing because the extra money will go in their pocket.”
If elected, Mulqueen promises to shut down any attempts to sell the nursing home so that residents can continue to receive good care and that employees will not lose their jobs. His vast experience in financial planning, being a member of the Valley Central school board and Town of Wallkill council has taught him that he’s here to serve the public and that every opinion counts.
“I promise when elected to serve all the people, that includes people that support me and the people that don’t,” he said. “I have a life-long commitment to the idea that every one of us should serve our community.”
General elections are being held on Tuesday, November 7 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
By Jaspreet Gill