Recount settles race for mayor

Hallenbeck wins after Haddad drops last challenges

HUDSON – Republican William H. Hallenbeck Jr. will be the city’s next mayor, a conclusion reached after the Democratic Party’s candidate, Nick Haddad, released his challenges when it became clear this week that Mr. Hallenbeck had just enough votes to eke out a victory.

The vote recount, which is not yet official, reportedly showed Mr. Hallenbeck winning by 875 to 825, although Mr. Haddad said after conceding the race that the margin might be even smaller when the election is certified.

In a phone interview Wednesday, November 30, the day after he was declared the winner and three weeks after Election Day, Mr. Hallenbeck said he was looking forward to taking office. “One sad thing is that it’s a two-year term and you need to hit the ground running,” he said. He said he hopes the people of Hudson “have some patience with a new mayor.”

Mr. Hallenbeck, who retired after 21 years in law enforcement first with the Hudson Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office and subsequently became the Hudson City School District security officer, has served two years as a member of the county Board of Supervisors. He now takes over as mayor from Richard Scalera, who did not seek reelection and instead was elected to the county Board of Supervisors.

The majority of the aldermen on the Common Council are Democrats, raising the possibility of partisan battles, but Mr. Hallenbeck doesn’t foresee that type of confrontation. “I’m very bipartisan,” he said.

That view was shared by Mr. Scalera, who said that half a dozen members of the council had supported Mr. Hallenbeck’s campaign. “I don’t think there will be any problem at all,” he said. Mr. Scalera, a registered Democrat, endorsed Mr. Hallenbeck for mayor in the election.

Donald Moore, a Democrat and the president of the Common Council, referred to the city’s “rich history” of people with diverse views working together. He wants to meet with the mayor elect and discuss Mr. Hallenbeck’s agenda. “I’m looking forward to working with him,” Mr. Moore said.

The new mayor knows he has a full plate of issues to address as soon as he takes the oath at the beginning of 2012. He is now meeting with supporters to select appointees and when he takes office he expects to begin immediately to negotiate contracts with city police and DPW employees.

Jobs and economic development are also on his to-do list. “We may not have been looking at development as hard as we should,” he said. And he sees the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, which the council was scheduled to vote on this week, as a potential component for growth in the city.

Mr. Hallenbeck and Mr. Scalera have already met to discuss the transition and have worked out a schedule of regular afternoon meetings after Mr. Hallenbeck finishes at the school, when Mr. Scalera will review with him all facets of city government.

Mr. Hallenbeck expects to work with Mr. Scalera and other members of county government on contentious problems like new office space for the county Department of Social Services, which currently occupies a privately owned office building in the city.

Mr. Haddad said he needed a few days to assess the outcome of the race before releasing an official statement, but he believes “we ran about as clean and as elegant a campaign as possible.”

With the vote so close, Mr. Haddad said of the outcome, “It isn’t really a mandate and that’s going to require everybody to work together.”

This was Mr. Haddad’s first run for public office. He runs an electrical supply business in the city and in northern Dutchess County. He said one of the things he has to ponder is whether he will remain involved in city politics. He described Mr. Hallenbeck as having been gracious in a conversation the two men had after the outcome was determined. Then he excused himself, saying that he needed to get back to work at his business.

Mr. Hallenbeck’s salary as mayor will be $45,000. Mr. Scalera arranged to take only $30,000 of that amount so that he could retain his retirement benefits from his previous job. 

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