Robertson turns back challenge in New Leb

NEW LEBANON–A lengthy Democratic caucus Tuesday, June 9, culminated in the party’s endorsement of incumbent Supervisor Margaret Robertson for re-election. She garnered 38 votes to challenger Allen Livermore’s 21.

Members also voted to endorse former two candidates for Town Board, Town Engineer Douglas Clark, with 45 votes, and Monroe (Monte) Wasch, with 34 votes. Mr. Wasch said he had decided only this week to run again. Two other people sought the endorsements, Tina Porte, who received 21 votes, and Phyllis Hulbert, who told The Columbia Paper that she didn’t know she was running until she saw her name in the paper. She received 14 votes.

It was a closed caucus, which some observers said was the first time in memory that those not eligible to vote had been excluded. Two members of the press and several community members were denied entry

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One of the people locked out was Town Clerk Colleen Teal, who is unaffiliated with any party but who was seeking endorsement for re-election to the post she’s held for seven years.

Ms. Teal was also denied the Democratic endorsement. The party chose Cherie Lane-Smith, by a margin of 3 votes. Ms. Teal will seek the Republican endorsement and run on that line, she said.

Saying that the town courts needed “change,” party members also voted not to endorse Town Justice Shaun McHugh, naming attorney Jessica Byrne as their candidate for the post. Mr. McHugh was clearly not happy and said he will “explore options” to the party’s endorsement.

Seeing the number of cars crowding the parking lot at the Immaculate Conception Church hall, Matthew Murnane commented that he’d “never seen so many people at a caucus.”  But people began leaving well before the nearly three-hour meeting was over. Most hurried away without comment, but two young women who declined to give their names said that they were upset by the contentious air of the meeting, their first caucus.

“At first, I thought, wow! It’s better than watching TV,” said one. But both decried what one of them described as the “name calling.” Asked who was doing it, one replied, “about six people in there.”

All of the voting was by secret ballot, except for the town clerk post, because the candidate “didn’t object,” one person said as he left the caucus. He said he was uncomfortable raising his hand to vote, but had no choice. He, too, declined to identify himself.

Highway Superintendent Jeff Winestock won the Democratic  endorsement . There was no challenger.

Supervisor Robertson was heartened by her win. She said she looks forward to being able to “work on the six big projects” that have confronted her in her tenure as supervisor.

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