Interview with Valerie Beekman, candidate for second ward alderwoman

Alderwoman Valerie Beekman recalled one of the most rewarding experiences for her this year was the completion of rehabilitation work at the Woodrow Wilson apartments.

In regards to Duncan Barett of Omni Housing Development LLC, Beekman said, “It kind of humbled me that someone who is not from this area would come in and invest this kind of money. And then he kept his word. He did everything on the list he told me he was going to do.”

Beekman voted along with the rest of the common council to approve a PILOT program for the development in May of 2014. Beekman also said she had asked the developer to include a couple of apartments built specially for handicapped residents, which she said had been done. She said she had talked to several residents who live at the apartments who said they were very pleased with the work.

Beekman said she wants to deal with developers like Omni Housing who have integrity. She said she also wants to see long-term agreements with businesses which hold them accountable for staying and creating jobs in the city, especially if they are receiving public funding or PILOT programs.

Asked whether she thought the city should retain its Community and Economic Development Director position or transfer the responsibility to Montgomery County, Beekam replied, “If I want my city to grow, then I want the person in-house.”

She said that she still believes the city and county should be able to cooperate.

“If they see things that are going to help us, and we see things that will help them, then we should be able to work together. There shouldn’t be a division.”

Beekman said in order to improve cooperation between council members and the mayor, “We need to realize we are here for the community first, not my ego.”

She also said that council members needs to understand the difference between their role and that of the mayor’s.

When it comes to holding city department heads accountable, she said that generally “I trust the person to do the job, I leave them alone.”

However, she said, “If I think something’s not being done, I know how to pick up the phone and say hello, can you come meet with us, is there something we need to know? How can we get this in order? Before I blatantly cause a disturbance.”

When asked about her opinion on a city-run ambulance service, she said she is willing to look at the case for the service, but is undecided so far.

Beekman said she strongly supports the continued operation of the Creative Connections arts program and would like to see it expand.

“Not all children play sports,” said Beekman. “We all have gifts and talents. Some of these kids can paint, draw, paint, or play music.”

She also supports the idea of building a recreation center and envisions the facility being used not only for sports, but for community education as well where seniors and young people could teach each other.

“We are blessed, we have talent from one end of the spectrum to the other,” said Beekman. “It could be one of the best places in NY State.”

“If the second ward thinks that [I] should be in there, then they’ll vote for me, if I’m doing my job,” she said.

“Usually if someone calls me in my ward, I go to see what the problem is and try take care of it. Can I take care of all of them? No, because I work full-time. But I keep a notebook and I write everything down and I call them back and try to get it resolved…I’m a resolver.”

Beekman will appear on the Democratic and Rebuilding Amsterdam party lines. She faces challenger Paul Ochal who is running on the Republican and Reform party lines.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.