WOODBURY, New York — Nestled in upstate New York’s scenic Hudson Valley lies the charming town of Woodbury. With special elections coming up on Nov. 7, town councilwoman Kathryn Luciani sat down with Vision Times — alongside fellow councilman Brandon Calore and aspiring councilwoman Teresa Luongo — to share why she’s running for the position of Town Supervisor, and what the team hopes to achieve.
When it comes to small-town politics, local leaders often have the most direct impact on their community’s well being, the group said.
With a collective vision of revitalizing Woodbury by prioritizing fiscal responsibility, diversifying local businesses, and fostering community engagement, the trio went into detail about what sets their team apart from other candidates vying for Woodbury’s town council.
‘We are public servants’
“I think what separates us from a lot of people is that we’re not politicians,” said Luciani. “We want to be community servants [that represent the public] instead of what we want people to do for us.”
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With a community-focused approach anchored in supporting residents, rather than ego-driven politics, Luciani’s team hopes to prioritize people over personal gain or credit. Recognizing the town’s potential as a financial stronghold, the trio made note of Woodbury’s unique position as the “gateway to Orange County,” and the many job opportunities this could bring.
Despite being home to Woodbury Commons — a shopping outlet known for its wide selection of discounted designer clothing and luxury goods — Luciani and Calore said they hope to bring in a slew of new businesses to attract even more visitors to the town.
Bolstering new business
“We have Woodbury Commons — and prior to its closing — we had the famous Palaia winery,” said Calore, who is running for reelection. Emphasizing the proximity of the two locations, he said, “It’s 5.3 miles between those two locations. We need to capitalize on the people that are coming to Woodbury Commons.”
Positioned to be more than just a shopping destination, Woodbury holds potential beyond a picturesque getaway — complete with dining experiences, lodging, wineries, hiking trails, and community events — added Calore.
When it comes to achieving long-term success, all the different departments need to work cohesively for a shared goal, said Luongo. “We’re a good team… I know if I get in, I’m going to work with the village board, too, because in Woodbury we have a village and we want to have both boards work well together.”
“I chose to get involved [after] volunteering and talking to a lot of the community residents and listening to what they want,” said Luongo, adding, “Businesses were having a hard time [during the pandemic] and I decided to run because people need a voice, and they need to be heard.”
Working as a team
When asked about what issues she hopes to tackle if elected, Luongo said, “Tensions [are high] within the boards. I want to eliminate that and get everyone to work together, reach our goals for Woodbury, and bring a lot of things that are going to benefit the community.”
Luciani said her experience engaging with residents and business owners during the pandemic inspired her to be a catalyst for change. She also credited the work of her community group “We Are Woodbury,” with helping her understand the needs of the constituents she hopes to represent. “I got started [in politics] when we did an HGTV Hometown Makeover for Woodbury. And while we didn’t get it, it inspired the idea to get grants to revitalize Woodbury,” she explained.
As a resident of Woodbury for over 14 years, Luciani is passionate about revamping the town’s architecture and aesthetics — all the while focusing on drawing parallels with neighboring towns like Monroe and Goshen to support new business growth.
Advocating for the community
“We all have children [that live here],” said Luciani, adding, “We all have investments in this community, and we’re not going anywhere.”
But while Luciani, Calore, and Luongo have a clear vision for Woodbury’s future, they also recognize the barriers they face — particularly the challenges posed by internal politics and a lack of transparency.
Reflecting on the $100,000 grant the village acquired for Woodbury’s downtown revitalization, which has since been stymied by internal politics, Luciani said, “If you truly and honestly are a politician — and if you’re truly doing it for Woodbury — all of that should be put aside.”
With a plan that goes beyond simply restoring old buildings, street lights, and attracting tourists, the team’s vision is about fostering community spirit, bridging divisions, and creating a cohesive vision for Woodbury’s future. Events such as car parades, Christmas tree lightings, kickball for a cause, and involvement in the Wreaths Across America program organized by Lisa Hintze reflect the team’s dedication to community-building and volunteer work.
“[We want people to say], ‘I want to live in Woodbury because there’s a nice road to stroll down with my children, [we can] go to different shops and restaurants and [visit] wineries, breweries, and listen to live music,’” said Luciani, adding, “Instead of driving to Warwick and Goshen and having to leave our town, they could stay right here. And the money can stay in our town.”
While addressing the importance of fiscal responsibility, the trio said the board should “shore up all of our different departments and responsibilities in an effective and fiscally responsible way.” Delving into the nitty gritty, Luciani said Woobury needs to implement a “serious long-term plan financially to get [the town] where it needs to be,” while upholding the 2 percent tax cap to lessen the burden on taxpayers.
“We all wish that we could wave a magic wand and get everything done that everybody wants,” said Luciani, adding, “But we have to be fiscally responsible. And I know we’re going to sound like a broken record, but we need to implement a five, ten, 15-year plan for Woodbury.”
In a political landscape often marred by partisanship and division, Luciani’s team stands out with its unwavering dedication to public service. With a campaign rooted in community needs above personal ambition, Woodbury stands on the cusp of change — and Luciani, Calore, and Luongo hope to lead that charge.
Luciani is challenging incumbent Woodbury Town Supervisor Thomas J. Burke. The town’s election will take place on Nov. 7, 2023. For more information, visit Luciani’s campaign site here.
With reporting by Judy Tao.