Incumbents fall in some towns but GOP still controls county
HUDSON–The face of politics in Columbia County underwent some notable changes this week if not the overall balance of power. As the evening wore on Election Night, a number of incumbent supervisors were either swept aside or face cliffhanger decisions as absentee ballots are counted next week.
Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show that Kinderhook, the largest municipality in the county, has elected a new town supervisor, former Valatie Mayor Pat Grattan, a Republican. He soundly defeated incumbent Democrat Doug McGivney 1,873 to 1,014. Paper ballots remain to be counted, although they are not likely to change the result.
Tuesday evening Mr. McGivney conceded and congratulated Mr. Grattan on his victory.
Republican candidates also won two seats on the Town Board in Kinderhook.
The outcome of the contests for town supervisor have an importance beyond the boundaries of each town, because the supervisors comprise the governing body of the county, the Board of Supervisors. At present, because of the weighted-vote system, Republicans control the legislature, and it appears that the party still will claim a majority of votes, but depending on what happens in a a few close races, the GOP’s margin may change.
There were apparent upsets in a number of towns, and while the outcome in the race for Claverack town supervisor gives challenger Robin Andrews, a Democrat, a seven-vote lead over long-time incumbent James Keegan, a Republican, it appears that absentee ballots and any votes cast on the new ballot marking device will determine the outcome.
“I’m optimistic but we really don’t know who won,” Ms. Andrews said Wednesday. She called the inconclusive outcome “really frustrating,” but she added, “We both ran a clean campaign; we offered the people a choice.”
Mr. Keegan could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
In Livingston, Democrat Phil Williams was unseated as supervisor by Republican Kevin McDonald, with the unofficial vote from the machines at 547 for Mr. McDonald and 261 for Mr. Williams.
Republican Tom Dias appears to have been defeated in his bid for another term as supervisor in Ancram, losing to Art Bassin, but the margin was only 67 votes, 338 to 271; 103 absentee ballots are outsdtanding..
“I think it’s still… too close to call,” Mr. Bassin said after the voting machine numbers were announced. Though he thinks he may get the bulk of the absentee ballots, Mr. Bassin believes he’ll have to wait a week or so to be sure his lead holds. He characterized the campaign as “difficult with a lot of tension.” He said “the closeness of the results suggest there are two very different points of view [in Ancram] and in the coming months I will be looking for ways to bring both sides closer to the middle to get stuff done.”
But Mr. Dias was less tentative about the outcome. “I congratulated Mr. Bassin last night. Though the combined numbers from Ancram and Ancramdale, 307 to 302, show a 5 vote margin, I know from the Board of Elections there are 103 absentee ballots outstanding.” After looking at the list of the names of the people who requested absentee ballots, Mr. Dias said, he may know 15 of them. “I think he’s got it, and I wish him all the best.”
In Austerlitz, the Democratic incumbent supervisor, George Jahn, was defeated by Jeffrey Braley Sr., 255 to 178.
Supervisor Elizabeth Young (R) of Taghkanic turned back a challenge from Loretta Hoffmann, 311 to 230. And Republican Valerie Bertram of Stuyvesant appears to have defeated Democrat Lee Jamison, although the margin there is less than 20 votes, 378 to 359, with a number of absentee ballots still to be counted.
In Clermont, Raymond Staats, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Carol Lent, 380 to 224.
Greenport had no incumbent in the race after current Supervisor John Rutkey decided not to run for reelection. The outcome there gave the top position in the town to Democrat Edward Nabozny, who defeated Republican Patrick Nolan 833 to 496.
In Canaan, incumbent Richard Keaveney easily defeated former Supervisor Gary Flaherty, who ran on an independent line; the vote was 348 to 154. Germantown supervisor Roy Brown, a Republican, beat Democrat David Forman 426 to 329.
Gallatin Supervisor Lynda Scheer overwhelmed her opponent, Peter Arnone Jr., 206 to 52.
Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera ran unopposed. And while the initial numbers showed Republican John Porreca Sr. defeating Democrat Don Moore for the post of Common Council president, a revision of the outcome based on the voting machine count showed Mr. Moore with a lead of 581 to 504. County Sheriff David Harrison Jr. and Coroner Angelo Nero also ran unopposed.
In Copake, where there was no race for supervisor, incumbent Democrats Linda Gabaccia and Bob Sacks retained their seats on the Town Board, but in Chatham, the two incumbent Democrats seeking reelection, Bob Balcom and Don Hegeman, both lost, with Republicans Maria Lull and Henry Swartz Jr. taking the seats.
In New Lebanon, voters split the ticket, electing Democrat Doug Clark and incumbent Republican Karl Chittenden to the board.
Although there were a total of 135 candidates on the ballot this fall in the county, there were only two local propositions, both involving the Hudson Area Association Library. In Hudson, voters resoundingly supported an increase in the amount of city support for the library at 400 State Street. But in Greenport a similar proposition was narrowly defeated.