BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Stony Point – While they are relatively low key events which do not usually draw large crowds, constituent hours for State Assemblyman James Skoufis (D – Stony Point) have served as a regular forum for Stony Point residents with questions and concerns on a range of issues since the Assemblyman’s election. According to Skoufis, his intent behind the meetings, which typically run on one day of each month during weekday afternoons, was to demonstrate his interest in adequately representing the town, a relatively small chunk of the 99th Assembly District.
“It’s there for people if they want to talk to us,” Skoufis explained.
Skoufis himself attends the meetings when possible and sends representatives when he is in Albany or otherwise occupied. Some months see little to no attention from Stony Pointers, but in other instances residents come forward for a direct sit-down discussion with Skoufis or one of his reps.
Skoufis explained residents have expressed particular concern about the Champlain-Hudson Power Express (CHPE) high-voltage power line, a project he is fighting with help from local activists such as the Just Say No Campaign and discussing with the State Public Service Commission, which has been under pressure from both sides to approve the plan. Public input from the meetings has, according to Skoufis, been an asset in the campaign against CHPE.
Other meeting topics have included grant opportunities, the rebuilding of the historic Pyngyp School and eminent domain concerns. Skoufis added the meetings also served as a forum to assist locals with New York’s Consolidated Funding Application, which can financially kick-start projects through a single application covering funding opportunities offered through various state offices.
In spite of the occasional quiet meeting, such as last week when nobody showed, Skoufis explained they were held due to popular demand. The meetings occurred for several years under former Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun before constituents requested Skoufis continue the practice, showing interest as early as his campaign for office.
“Having those constituent meetings is an important show of good faith,” Skoufis explained. “People appreciate that I’m available.”
Constituent meeting times are available on the Town of Stony Point’s website. The next meeting is scheduled for August 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., when Skoufis himself will be in attendance.