Democrat Isaac Palmer Runs for Mayor of Otisville, New York

By Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara is an Orange County, New York-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at
March 7, 2023Updated: March 8, 2023

Otisville resident and former village trustee Issac Palmer said he is running for the village’s top job to build on the legacy of longtime Mayor Brian Wona.

Wona, a Democrat, isn’t seeking reelection this year after serving eight terms.

Under Wona, the small village in western Orange County has built many new projects with grant money while keeping taxes low—a governing vision that Palmer wants to carry on, he said.

Palmer was a village trustee for eight years and worked closely with Wona on many initiatives before losing his seat by 10 votes last year.

“Brian Wona and I worked very well together,” Palmer told The Epoch Times. “He has done a lot for the village, and I have always been a strong supporter of him.”

Palmer faces Republican candidate Brian Casey in the mayoral election, which will take place between noon and 9 p.m. on March 21 at the Village Hall.

Village Government Experience

Palmer became involved in village government following his retirement in 2011, first serving on the review committee and then the planning board.

Having been in the construction industry for most of his life, Palmer enjoyed a closer view of the village development and the highs of the approval process.

But the planning board post also came with its lows, such as when developers shelved approved projects and nothing happened for years, he said.

Epoch Times Photo
The village hall in Otisville, N.Y., on March 1, 2022.

In 2014, Palmer ran and won a trustee seat on the four-member village board.

The four trustees cast votes on most village affairs; the mayor also gets one vote, often cast to break a tie among board members.

As a trustee, Palmer worked on many village projects, including rebuilding water mains, upgrading the village hall, replacing the firehouse roof, and preventing stormwater runoff along Route 211, he said.

Most projects were made possible by state grants.

Epoch Times Photo
The Veterans Memorial Park in Otisville, N.Y., on March 1, 2022.

“[Wona] felt confident in me in terms of dealing with engineers and contractors and putting the right people together,” Palmer said. “We worked very closely on a lot of these projects.”

His construction background—in the gasoline industry and in elevator construction—helped him understand almost every component of projects and related expenses, he said.

Losing the Trustee Seat

Palmer was reelected village trustee three times and served as deputy mayor for the last two terms before losing the seat last year.

In Otisville, a village of fewer than 2,000 residents, local election turnout can range from the mid-50s to about 200. Palmer lost by 10 votes.

He attributed his failure in part to the currently divisive national politics, adding that some residents said to his face that they could no longer support him simply because he was a Democrat.

“Unfortunately, I can’t get some people to understand that national politics shouldn’t be a part of what we do here at the local level,” Palmer said. “Your concern should be what the village is doing with the tax dollars you are paying—are they managing your tax dollars appropriately? And you should be the watchdog.”

Epoch Times Photo
The county bridge in Otisville, N.Y., on March 1, 2022.

He added that he is a conservative Democrat when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money.

“I could have walked away, but I remain active [in village affairs],” Palmer said. “It is not an ego thing—I do it for the community, and I am not looking for praise.”

He remains a member of both the review and park committees.

Action Plan

Running on the legacy of Wona, Palmer has a list of projects he plans to focus on if elected, he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Campaign signs of three Democratic candidates in the village election near the county bridge in Otisville, N.Y., on March 1, 2022.

First, he will continue to apply for grants to complete the water main upgrade project, which could cost another $1 million.

The next phase of the project has to do with a portion of water mains on Route 211, which has been delayed because of a lack of federal funding, according to a village newsletter.

In the past, the village largely relied on the state Community Development Grant and funding awarded by New York state Sen. John Bonacic for the project.

Palmer also plans to push through the county bridge replacement project, which has been in planning for years and is expected to start later this year.

If the bridge replacement gets done in a timely manner, he hopes to improve the nearby downtown parking lot afterward.

Epoch Times Photo
Downtown parking lot in Otisville, N.Y., on March 7, 2023.

“We want to get rid of all the Jersey barriers and make it less like a construction site—but we cannot make that investment until the bridge is replaced because [the latter] would destroy whatever improvement on the parking lot with all the heavy equipment going in and out,” he said.

Both projects, when completed, will change the whole outlook of downtown Otisville, he noted.

He also plans several upgrades to the Veterans Memorial Park, including a new toddler swing, additional picnic areas beyond the pavilion, and new wildflower and grass sections.

Two other Democratic candidates, Robert Bennett and Bob Clouse, are running for two trustee seats.

Clouse serves on the village board, and Bennett was a former trustee.