Q & A with Robert Gabrielli

(Originally published on Sept. 11, 2015)
Former town supervisor candidate Robert Gabrielli. Photo by Jack O’Brien.

Three men are running for New Paltz town supervisor and on the surface, they’re all are fairly similar. Their policy proposals to change the atmosphere of the town board are similar. Their dedication to serve the people of this area is a shared bond. On paper there’s little differentiation between them.

But upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious that no one is like Robert Gabrielli. A lifelong resident, from grade school to college through adulthood, Gabrielli has lived most of his life here in New Paltz. Now, in his aging years, he seeks to give back to the town that has given everything to him.

JO: Why are you running for town supervisor?

RG: Well, I’m recently retired, I had worked for the past 18 years as the New York State Workers’ Compensation Deputy Inspector General for Frauds. I worked in Albany, but I’ve lived my whole life in New Paltz. I went to school here, I’m actually the only SUNY New Paltz alumnus running. I even taught at New Paltz High School after I graduated. I’m just a nice guy trying to help.

JO: What qualifications do you think you possess to be town supervisor?

RG: As Deputy Inspector General, I was a leader for an agency that encompassed roughly 1,600 people. The agency reduced governmental costs and worked at the behest of four governors, both Republican and Democratic. There, I learned fiscal responsibility in addition to honing my management skills.

JO: If you were town supervisor, how would you address the impending water crisis?

RG: I think that we are too far gone on the course chosen by the current town government. I think there should’ve been more input from engineering professionals, a more comprehensive examination of alternative options, and more attention paid to the people who live on Plains Road. I think the town didn’t do well with informing the public of the progress of the plan.

JO: How do you plan on changing the town board?

RG: I want to strive for inclusivity. There should be better lines of communication open between the town board and the public. Their voices should be heard at meetings, especially if they have expertise with regards to an issue we are discussing.

JO: How would you address economic opportunities, specifically the CVS/Five Guys plaza proposal?

RG: We need to get professionals with experience in these fields involved in our decision-making process. Regarding the CVS proposal, I’m not opposed to having an architectural review of the plan done. But as I said, I want engineers and architects lending their talents so we know what is in the best interest of New Paltz.

JO: How would you address the town’s environmental concerns?

RG: I follow the philosophy of ‘do no harm.’ Our actions should focus around the minimization of consequence, but should account for humans too since we are part of the environment. I’m an environmentalist, but I don’t believe in forcing my beliefs on anyone. Being an environmentalist is about more than wearing a badge.

JO: What did you think of the Democratic Party’s caucus?

RG: I anticipated that it would go the way it did. I showed up to make an appearance and tell people who I was. Ultimately, I believe people will choose who they want regardless of politics. I have faith in people voting on merit, not party affiliation.

JO: What is your plan to persuade voters over the next month and a half?

RG: My friend Laura Walls has a great quote: “I’m not a politician, I’m a public servant.” I want people in town to realize that politics don’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be blood-sport and personal and so vitriolic. People want hard facts, and I want to be the guy who can give it to them.