Death of board member brings incumbent into race

CHATHAM — Jean Rohde will be running for Town Board on the Republican ticket. Although earlier this year she announced she would leave the board when her term ends in December, she will now run in place of board member Tom Meyn, who died October 20 of cancer.

Ms. Rohde is serving her second four-year term. Mr. Meyn was running to keep his seat, after winning an election last year to fill a one-year vacancy on the board. Ms. Rohde’s original decision to retire and the expiration of Mr. Meyn’s term opened up contests for two seats. Landra Haber and former board member Robert Balcom are running for the Democrats, Robert Johnson is the other Republican candidate. The two highest vote getters will win the seats on the board.

“Tom asked me if I would take his seat,” Ms. Rohde said in a phone interview Tuesday, October 25. She said Mr. Meyn asked her to run if his health deteriorated.

Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said it was well known on the board that Mr. Meyn wanted Ms. Rohde to take over his campaign should something happen to him.

Though she is presently a registered Democrat, Ms. Rohde said she plans to change her registration to “no party” affiliation in the future. She said running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines has not changed her views on anything politically. “I’m still going to vote the way I think,” she said, adding that she plans to do what’s best for the people of the town.

Ms. Rohde has only a couple of weeks to contact voters and campaign before the November 8 election. “I’ve been on the board for a couple of terms and people know me,” she said.

John Wallace, chairman of Chatham Republican Committee, said that he also talked to Mr. Meyn about Ms. Rohde stepping in to campaign in his place. Mr. Wallace said the party’s committee on vacancies voted unanimously to designate Ms. Rohde to replace Mr. Meyn on the ballot. Mr. Wallace said that he spoke with the Conservative and Independence parties to gain their support as well.

Though Mr. Wallace said he knew Ms. Rohde was a Democrat, he said “she is open to listening to the facts as opposed to being a party person.” He also talked about Ms. Rohde’s long affiliation with the town after serving on board for eight years.

Columbia County Elections Commissioner Virginia Martin (D) said that the Town of Chatham ballot will be amended to remove Mr. Meyn’s name and substitute Ms. Rohde’s ahead of the November 8 election. She said the commission had received the paperwork from the parties needed to make the change.

In addition to his most recent term filling a board vacancy, Mr. Meyn served two four-year terms on the Town Board. He owned Hopper Cabinet and lived in East Chatham. His complete obituary appears on Page 23 of this edition.

In an email, Mr. Balcom wrote that Mr. Meyn was “one of the few Republicans I ever voted for because he wanted to do the right thing for our town and [I] believe he maintained that belief right to the end.”

Mr. DeGroodt, a former Democrat who is also on the ballot this November on the Republican line, said Mr. Meyn was a man of ideas. “Tom was very thoughtful,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. DeGroodt said that losing Mr. Meyn has been difficult but the loss was made easier knowing Ms. Rohde would run in his place.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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