Ralph Smith grew up in Yonkers, NY, the youngest of four children in a big, Scotch-Irish family. He was a shy but energetic kid with an early passion for making people laugh. Ralph has always operated at a personal level, wanting to make those around him happy and comfortable. Even in his later endeavors, serving on the Board of Education and the Putnam Valley Town Board, Ralph is continuously mindful of the consequences of his decisions on the individuals they will affect. In his young adult years, Ralph put himself through the education program at Mercy College by working in the Dobbs Ferry library, even hitchhiking to school on days he couldn't afford the bus (Ralph would no longer endorse this as a mode of transportation!). During these college years, Ralph found the time to play a starting role on his college basketball team and had the honor of being team captain, which as a young man gave him the insights of a leader and taught him the value of cooperation and comradery.
Ralph's first teaching job was at The Clear View School in Dobbs Ferry, where he first met his beautiful wife, Laura, also a teacher. After their formative years as educators, the young couple bought a house in Putnam Valley, Ralph began working in the elementary school, and the rest is history! After nearly two decades at the Elementary School, Ralph was excited to join the initiative to bring Putnam Valley its very own High School. He was proud to be part of an advancement that has allowed us to take back the full honor of educating and shaping our young population into mature, dedicated, and resilient members of our community. So proud, in fact, that he was one of the few volunteers to give up his old position teaching fourth grade at the elementary school to move to the new high school. Ralph has never hesitated to confront a new challenge and saw in our fledgling high school the opportunity to instill in our young people the same appreciation for our town's rich history as he himself feels so acutely.
During his many years as an educator, Ralph served in a wide variety of roles. Some of his many leadership positions included President of the Teacher's Union, Chief Contract Negotiator, Grievance Chairperson, and Committee of 100 lobbyist, which allowed him to hone skills of compromise, focus, and determination. Ralph's primary motivation has always been improving the lives of his peers – other working people, like himself and his family. Ralph has had many jobs throughout his life: taxi driver, magician, lifeguard, coach, referee, mentor…but the common thread has been the desire to help people, make them smile, and improve their lives in some way whether large or small.
Even after his retirement in 2011, Ralph continued to serve his community. He was elected to the Board of Education for Putnam Valley schools for two consecutive terms, for a total of six years of service. Up until that point, he had spent years evincing change from the inside out – now it was time to get serious about supporting policies that could make systemic changes, an ideological stance Ralph intends to uphold as Town Supervisor. Above all else, Ralph Smith respects the individual citizens of Putnam Valley and wants to represent and benefit all the people in our town. One primary concern which affects all the citizens of Putnam Valley is the rising tax costs. During his six years on the Board of Education, Ralph strongly advocated keeping our school tax increases under the Tax Cap. Previous to Ralph's tenure on the Town Board, they had only managed to stay under the Tax Cap once since its’ inception. This year will mark the second consecutive year that the town budget has been under the tax cap…a proud achievement since Ralph’s seat is the only change on the Town Board for those two years. Ralph has demonstrated now that greater fiscal prudence is an easily achievable goal that benefits all his neighbors.
Nowadays, Ralph lives in the house he owns near Lake Oscawana with his lovely wife and their daughter, recently returned from Ireland with her MA degree. He is an avid gardener, improving his garden with the same obsessive fixation that he will apply to town policy if elected as Town Supervisor. He remains involved in athletics and has volunteered at the Community Food Pantry for many years.
Ralph was elected to the Putnam Valley Town Board in November 2019; The pandemic struck Putnam Valley just three months after he took office. Just as it was a tough time for everyone in town, it was a tough time to keep town government active and provide not just daily service, but also bolster confidence and keep a vision for the future alive. Despite the obstacles, and the short time he had been in office, Ralph did help to keep things running and also, impressively, accomplished long term goals for Putnam Valley:
Community Solar: Could Putnam Valley become part of a nation-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gases? Ralph thought it could. He drafted a resolution for the Town of Putnam Valley to become a NYS Climate Smart community which the Town Board passed on 3/18/20. To help implement climate smart solutions that best benefit our town, Ralph created and chaired a 12-person Climate Smart Task Force, including neighbors of different ages and with varied skills and experience. Many meetings and much work later, on August 11th, 2021, the Town Board approved an opt-in community solar program and Putnam Valley became the first Community Solar Town in Putnam County. Since August, a record number of Putnam Valley residents have joined the program. Hundred-dollar gift cards have started coming in the mail to the registrants – not to mention 10% savings on electric costs and a 100% green source of electricity. The solar power is generated on upstate solar farms - not requiring solar panels on our homes or in our beautiful landscapes. In addition, in just 2 months, through Ralph’s applications, the program generated over $10,000 in grant/donation money for the town. “A win, win, win, win solution” is what Ralph calls the program. (For more information on Community Solar, or to opt-in, click here- https://ampion.net/putnamvalley).
District Representative to Lake Peekskill: As a Town Councilperson, Ralph was the district representative for four districts, including Lake Peekskill and Roaring Brook Lake. He worked with Lake Peekskill leaders to have the first community meeting in a number of years to hear peoples’ concerns. He continues frequent contact with the L.P.I.D. leadership on pending issues, including Lake Peekskill remediation.
District Representative to Roaring Brook Lake: Ralph worked closely with Roaring Brook Lake leaders and the town lawyer to draft long-desired updates of outdated parking regulations in the RBL District. These were passed by the Town Board in May 2021 and have made the signage on RBL District parking lots consistent with the law and enforceable. Ralph also met personally with the engineering team working on the rehabilitation of the RBL Dam, and made possible the submission to NY State of a grant for that work (still pending, but potentially for $65,000.)
Ralph cares about the quality of life for each citizen of Putnam Valley. He knows how to talk to neighbors, collaborate, distill the nature of a problem, and confer with others to get the answers he needs. He looks forward to being even more involved in improving the lives of his neighbors in the coming years!
Ralph is proud to be running for Town Supervisor with a community minded and highly qualified slate - a dedicated group ready to make a difference for Putnam Valley!