Jason West

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Jason West
Mayor Jason West.jpg
Mayor of New Paltz, New York
In office
June 1, 2011 – May 30, 2015
Preceded byTerry Dungan
Succeeded byTim Rogers
In office
January 1, 2003 – May 31, 2007
Preceded byThomas Nyquist
Succeeded byTerry Dungan
Personal details
Born (1977-03-26) March 26, 1977 (age 46)
Latham, New York, U.S.
Political partyGreen
Alma materState University of New York at New Paltz
University of California, Berkeley

Jason West (born March 26, 1977[1]) is an American politician who served as mayor of the village of New Paltz, New York from January 1, 2003 to May 31, 2007, and again from June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2015.

A graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, West made headlines by solemnizing same-sex marriages in New York.[2] After running as a protest candidate for the New York State Assembly in 2000 and 2002 on the Green Party ticket, West was elected mayor of New Paltz in 2003. He lost his reelection bid on May 1, 2007, to village trustee Terry Dungan.[3]

Mayoral history[edit]


Elected mayor of New Paltz in 2003 with promises of environmental sustainability,[4] West gained international attention, initially as part of the first Green Party majority elected in New York State and later for risking criminal prosecution to marry 25 same-sex couples.[5]

West was named the Best New Mayor of 2003 by Hudson Valley magazine. He was honored by such organizations as the New York State Senate Democratic Conference, the California State Legislature and community organizations from around the country. He has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine, Plenty, Out, The Advocate, and Jane, among others.

Same-sex marriages[edit]

West at a gay rally in 2005

On February 27, 2004, West drew national attention to New Paltz when he announced that he would be performing same-sex marriages. On the first day he performed 24 such ceremonies. On March 2, he was charged with 19 misdemeanor counts of "solemnizing marriages without a license" by Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams.[6] According to Williams, West was not charged for all 25 ceremonies because police only witnessed 19 of them.

West originally announced that he intended to continue performing same-sex weddings;[7] however, on March 5, New York state judge Vincent Bradley issued a temporary restraining order barring West from performing any such ceremonies for a month. West indicated that he would abide by the judicial order while evaluating his legal options. On June 6, Ulster County Supreme Court Judge Michael Kavanagh made the injunction permanent.[8] West later remarked, "Give it 10 or 20 years when we're holding state legislatures and Congress. It will just be a nonissue."[9]

On June 10, New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz dismissed the charges against West, ruling that the district attorney had failed to show that the state had a legitimate interest in preventing the marriages, or that the law under which West was charged was constitutional. The district attorney said that he would appeal the ruling.[10]

Involvement in the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords[edit]

As mayor, West took part in the creation of the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords in San Francisco in the Spring of 2005. He is one of 60 mayors from across the world who signed the original accords.[11]

A signatory to the United States Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement and the member of the international network Mayors for Peace, West was also a founding member of the Young Elected Officials Network, a nationwide organization of progressive politicians under 35. He also served on its steering committee.

Defeat in 2007[edit]

West lost his bid for a second four-year term by on May 1, 2007, after a campaign highlighted by an endorsement by Ralph Nader[12] with 514 votes for Dungan to West's 379.[3]

Reelection in 2011[edit]

West was reelected as mayor of New Paltz on May 3, 2011. His salary at the time was $22,500. West requested a $13,000 raise in 2012. The Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees approved the raise. West requested another $13,000 raise in 2013 but instead had his salary returned to the $22,500 level in a revised budget passed 4-0 by the board, with the mayor absent from voting.[13] In response, West sued the board of trustees. The lawsuit was settled by a $12,000 settlement in February 2015.[14]

Defeat in 2015[edit]

West was defeated by former New Paltz school board member Tim Rogers, who garnered 323 votes, while West received 204 votes.[15] West stated that he was considering the possibility of returning to school for a teaching degree while remaining active in village affairs,[16] and then went about pursuing a master of science degree at Bard College.[17]


Dare to Hope: Saving American Democracy 2005, ISBN 1-4013-5238-3


  1. ^ http://birthdatabase.com
  2. ^ Justin Silverman (2004-02-28). "N.Y. village mayor jumps into same-sex marriage fray". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
  3. ^ a b Erin Quinn (2007-05-03). "Boldness That Won Him Wide Attention Costs a Brash Young Mayor His Re-election Bid". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-29.
  4. ^ Hallie Arnold (2003-05-07). "Upstart ousts New Paltz mayor". FreemanOnline.com. Daily Freeman. Archived from the original on 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2008-10-13. West, a house painter and puppeteer, said his vision is to explore alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and use them in local government to 'make New Paltz the cutting edge of environmentally sustainable practices within municipalities.'
  5. ^ Sullivan, Robert (March 28, 2004). "Mayor With A Mission". The New York Times. New York, New York. Archived from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Kolker, Robert (2004-03-08). "The Marrying Kind". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
  7. ^ "Mayor: Gender irrelevant in marriage". CNN.com. CNN. 2004-03-03. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
  8. ^ "Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against New Paltz Mayor Jason West Ordering Him to Stop Illegally Solemnizing Same-Sex Unions". Liberty Counsel. 2004-06-07. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  9. ^ Carl Weiser (2004-07-14). "Young people answer call of political action, run for office". USAToday.com. USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  10. ^ "Judge Dismisses Charges Against New Paltz Mayor". Washington Post. 2004-06-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  11. ^ "Text of the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-14. Retrieved 2006-08-13.
  12. ^ Jeremiah Horrigan (2007-04-27). "Nader supports New Paltz mayor". RecordOnline.com. Times Herald Record. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  13. ^ "New Paltz Mayor Jason West's salary at heart of legal debate - DailyFreeman.com". dailyfreeman.com. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03.
  14. ^ Horrigan, Jeremiah. "Mayor Jason West, New Paltz Village Board settle salary reduction lawsuit." New Paltz Times. http://www.newpaltzx.com/2015/02/13/mayor-jason-west-new-paltz-village-board-settle-salary-reduction-lawsuit/
  15. ^ "News about area groups: Feb. 9, 2014". 8 February 2014.
  16. ^ "Jason West, Sally Rhoads, Ariana Basco get fond sendoff at their last New Paltz Village Board meeting - Hudson Valley One". 4 June 2015.
  17. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonmatthewwest[self-published source]

External links[edit]