Rhinebeck Candidates Will Be Featured In Forum

RHINEBECK, N.Y. – Candidates in the upcoming village elections in Rhinebeck will be taking part in a public forum next week.

<p>A meet-the-candidates forum has been set for Wednesday, March 8 at Rhinebeck Town Hall on East Market Street.</p>

A meet-the-candidates forum has been set for Wednesday, March 8 at Rhinebeck Town Hall on East Market Street.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The forum will be moderated by Poughkeepsie Journal editor and Rhinebeck resident John Penney, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

The forum is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Rhinebeck Town Hall, which is located at 76 East Market St.

Incumbent trustee Gary Bassett, a Democrat, is aiming to unseat the Republican mayor, Heath Tortarella, who is seeking a second two-year term, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

Other Democrats seeking seats on the board are incumbent trustee Gina Fox and newcomer Richard “Ric” Lewit, the Journal report said.

Running on the Republican/Rhinebeck Together side are incumbent trustee Howie Traudt and newcomer Sarah Burke, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal.

Trustees serve two-year terms.

Tortarella was elected as a trustee in 2013 to fill a vacancy and was appointed as interim mayor in 2014 after then-mayor Jim Reardon stepped down in the middle of his third term. In 2015, the physical therapist and Army Reservist was elected mayor, according to

Bassett was appointed to the board in 2015 to fill a vacancy. Last year he ran for and won a full-term seat on the board, according to

Bassett, who has lived in Rhinebeck since 1993, is a retired IBM engineer and has served as 1st assistant chief of the Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad. He has also served on the town’s recreation and finance committees.

Traudt, a native of Rhinebeck, has served on the board for eight years, the last five as deputy mayor. Traudt has been employed for 25 years by Dutchess Beer Distributors, according to a video posted on Rhinebeck Together’s Facebook page.

He and his wife, Lucille, have two children.

Burke grew up in Rhinebeck, where her dad was a village justice. She moved to the West Coast to attend college. She got married, worked, and had a son. She returned to Rhinebeck to care for her parents, she said in video posted by the Rhinebeck Republican Committee on Facebook.

Lewit, who grew up in Westchester, has lived in Rhinebeck since 1998, according to

A former newspaper reporter, he was the owner of Dutchess Wine and a winery in Red Hook, and is a business manager for his wife’s documentary film company, said.

Fox was elected to the board in 2016 to fill a one-year open term left open by a resignation according to

The Midwest native has lived in the Rhinebeck area for more than 20 years. In 2009, she was elected to a four-year term on the Town Board. She challenged then-Supervisor Tom Traudt but lost and ended up serving the remainder of her term on the board.

A chiropractor and real estate agent, Fox has served on the board of the Southwinds Foundation. She has also been involved in the Friends of Rhinebeck Cemetery and in community services such as the Church of the Messiah’s food pantry.

The election is set for Tuesday, March 21, at the Rhinebeck Town Hall.

To see Traudt’s video, click here.

To see Burke’s video, click here.

To read Fox’s bio on, click here.

To read Bassett’s bio on, click here.

To read Tortarella’s bio on, click here.

To read Lewit’s bio on, click here.

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