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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

Northern Exposure

Monday, May 8th

Dear Friends:

Last Thursday I drove up to Millerton to attend the rollout of the new Dutchess County Mobile Health RV, hosted by Assemblymember Didi Barrett. I was so excited the event was held in northeastern Dutchess – and it wasn’t only because the drive to Millerton includes some of the most picturesque scenery in the Hudson Valley! No, I was excited because unveiling this vital resource in Millerton illuminated the lack of access to county services for our residents in the northern and eastern parts of the county.

A couple of months ago at a town hall in Pine Plains, I had the opportunity to speak with dozens of Dutchess County residents who live in more rural towns like Milan, Amenia, Dover and Millerton. It was a great conversation, but if there was one thing I took away from that meeting, it was the fact that many of our county residents in northern and eastern Dutchess simply feel forgotten. They feel like our county government stopped working for them – and stopped listening to them – a long time ago. And they’re ready for a change.

I told my friend Brian, who lives in northern Dutchess, about the Mobile Health RV rollout in Millerton, and he just rolled his eyes. “That’s the only time we see politicians up here,” he told me. “They take the photo, and then they’re gone.”

I used to live in Milan myself, and I know the malaise Brian and so many others are feeling right now. If you currently live in the northeastern edges of Dutchess County, you live in a desert: a food desert, a transportation desert, and a mental health desert, just to name a few. Our county government has had the last 32 years to get our rural neighbors the vital services they need, but nothing ever seems to change. No one seems to be listening to our rural folks.

Residents in northern and eastern Dutchess don’t need more photo-ops. They need a promise. A promise from their county leaders that they will not be forgotten when it comes to delivering equal access to the services they’re already paying for. As Dutchess County Executive, I promise we will change the narrative and make sure all our residents enjoy equal access to the services they deserve. Everyone should have equal access to county services, no matter where they live in Dutchess County. That’s just common sense.

I know my friend Didi Barrett agrees. “I’m delighted that we are finally launching this new Mobile Health RV in Millerton. Critical mental and behavioral health providers have been in short supply in the rural eastern and northern communities of Dutchess County,” she said. “So, it was especially important to me, in funding this mobile health unit, to ensure these much-needed services would be more accessible to our local families, seniors, teens and children.”

If you live in northern or eastern Dutchess and you’re hungry for real change, I hope you’ll join our fight as we share our message of hope and inclusion with every resident, no matter where they live! We could definitely use your help. Please consider making a donation using the secure Act Blue link below, or join us at any of our Team Tommy events listed on our tour calendar – many of which will be right in your hometown! Even better, consider hosting a Team Tommy barbecue at your home this summer, because I always welcome any opportunity to visit beautiful towns like Millerton, Amenia, Wingdale and all points in between. I hope to see you soon!

Thank you Assemblymember Barrett for securing the state funding needed for the new Dutchess County Health RV! And thank you, for listening! See you next time!

Respectfully, Tommy

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