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Chase Secures Prattsville Council Seat

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 12/4/23 | 12/4/23

By Michael Ryan

PRATTSVILLE  - One element of the 2023 election for town council in Prattsville may always remain in the realm of the inexplicable.

Mason Chase, who has a lengthy link to local public service, has emerged from a four-way race for two council seats following the counting of absentee ballots by the Greene County Board of Elections.

Election Night, on November 7, produced only one sure winner, incumbent Joyce Peckham (Republican) who earned 98 votes. The largest two vote-getters, regardless of Party affiliation, would earn victory.

Separated by only one vote were Chase (Democrat, 70 votes) and Crystal Soule-Cornell (Republican, 69) with two absentees yet to reveal.

They were opened on November 20 in Catskill. One went to Chase (71 votes) with one going to John Maynard (Democrat) who nevertheless finished out of the running with 49 total votes.

A curious circumstance surrounded this election. Soule-Cornell had been on the council for several years before unexpectedly resigning.

Soule-Cornell’s exit came earlier this fall but only after her name was officially on the Board of Elections ballot.

The fact she still collected nearly enough votes to win, given the uncertainty she would accept the position, came as a surprise even in a town where political surprises have become the norm.

Chase is part of a Prattsville legacy of government commitment, beginning with his grandmother, former town supervisor Phyllis Raeder.

His mother, Bonnie Chase, was a longtime town council member, helping guide the community through the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and its destructive flooding in 2011.

The grandson and son, now 25 years old, is a 2016 graduate of Gilboa-Conesville School and earned a Civil Engineering degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2021.

He is currently a project manager for Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Construction, based in Glenmont, New York.

Chase is helping oversee a $16 million project in Dutchess County and says he spends “quite a bit of time on the road” with his job.

He will, however, fully honor his duties as a councilman. “I will absolutely make the meetings,” Chase says, knowing Prattsville recently had a different council member resign after missing many meetings.

“I wouldn’t have let them nominate me if I thought I couldn’t be there,” says Chase, noting he is looking forward to being in a position of responsibility.

“It’s not particularly easy to win in Prattsville with the word “Democrat” next to your name,” Chase says, recognizing the GOP majority in recent years.

“But I enjoy talking to all people. I enjoy trying to help all people,” says Chase, who comes to the council with a hoped-for change.

“I honestly think we need some type of zoning in Prattsville,” he says. “I go back and forth with it in my mind.

“I don’t think you should be told what you can do on your land but I also don’t necessarily want a 50-acre solar field next to my land. And there continues to be an influx of people to our town,” Chase says.

“There are a lot of [changes] going on with things like [the proposed] Hughes Energy [waste treatment] project], so I do think we need to regulate. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to adopt modified zoning.”

Chase will be sworn-in on January 1, 2024, leaving the town board with four members following the death of Kenneth Aurigema. The possible appointment of a 5th member will be addressed after the New Year.

“There are decent people on the town board. I look forward to working with them,” Chase says. The town has only two meetings remaining this year, traditionally focused on tying up fiscal loose ends.

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