But what about us? What are the big races centering on Ulster County voters this season? Where’s the local fire, beyond Carl Paladino visiting Kingston and New Paltz, Jay Townsend addressing a local Tea Party in the Town of Ulster, Maurice Hinchey in Saugerties, and the entire Ulster Republicans’ ongoing tussle with incumbent Democrat Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, facing perennial candidate Fawn Tantillo for reelection?
Here’s what will be on our ballots come November 2…
The big bets, at least in terms of major cable and network attention, have been on the race for a new New York governor to replace replacement governor David Paterson, who came into office three years ago after big hopeful Eliot Spitzer won in a 2000 landslide only to burn out, with his socks on, a short 14 months after taking office. All eyes were on the dynamic, or lack of one, between current Attorney General and former governor Mario’s son Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Buffalo businessman Carl “I’m Mad As Hell” Paladino, on the Republican line. Until this past Monday’s October 18 debate, that is, that allowed all seven hopefuls for the job onto a stage, including Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Warren Redlich, Kristin M. Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, and the colorful Jimmy McMillan of his own “Rent is 2 Damn High” Party.
With Cuomo also running on the Working Families and Independence Party lines, and Paladino for the Conservative Party and Taxpayers, this will be the heavy top of local ballots.
Following will be an almost-as-crowded line up for Lieutenant Governor, with Robert J. Duffy alongside Cuomo on the Democrat, Working Family and Independence lines, Greg Edwards on Republican, Conservative and Taxpayers lines, Eva M. Doyle for the Freedom Party, Alden Link, Libertarian, Tanya Gendelman, Anti-Prohibition, and the Greene Party’s Gloria Mattera.
For Cuomo’s (and Spitzer’s) old position as Attorney General, Manhattan state senator Eric Schneiderman, a former trial lawyer and sheriff’s deputy known for revising the Rockefeller drug laws, will be running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Family lines; Dan Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney and a former aide to his borough’s Molinari family leaders, is on the Republican and Conservative lines, while the ballots will also include Freedom Party candidate Ramon J. Jimenez and Carl E. Person on the Libertarian line.
For New York State Comptroller, incumbent Tom DiNapoli (D-WF), appointed to the position by a relatively close legislative vote from his state Assembly seat after his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, resigned as part of a plea deal, will be faced by Republican-Independence Party and Conservative Party candidate Harry Wilson, a former investor and restructuring expert who served in the U.S. Treasury Department and recent Auto Industry Task Force and won an endorsement from The New York Times earlier this week. Filling out the ballot for this position will be John Gaetani, on the Libertarian line, and the Green Party’s Julia A. Willebrand.
Both of New York’s U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs this year, although the state doesn’t appear to be in play for any GOP takeover scenarios of the nation’s legislative upper body.
Senior Senator Charles Schumer (D-WF-I) is seeking a third term against Jay Townsend (R-C), a market research and communications consultant from Cornwall-on-Hudson, the Green Party’s Colia Clark, and Randy A. Credico on the Libertarian and Anti-Prohibition lines.
For the state’s Junior Senator slot, which will come up again for election two years from now, appointed Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (D-WF-I) of Hudson, a tough campaigner from a family of Albany lobbyists, is running against Joe DioGuardi (R-C-Taxpayers), a former CPA executive with Arthur Anderson & Co. and Westchester County Congressman whose daughter was an American Idol judge; Bruce Blakeman on the Tax Revolt line, the Green Party’s Cecile A. Lawrence, Libertarian John Clifton, Vivia Morgan of the Anti-Prohibition Party, and Joseph Huff on the Rent is 2 Damn High line.
House of Representatives
With all eyes on the U.S. House of Representatives as the key prize, and likeliest bloodied battleground in a couple of weeks, the big races were on all sides of our districts…until last week.
Here in our own New York 22nd U.S. House of Representatives district, the stalwart Saugerties-raised and Hurley-based Maurice Hinchey (D-WF-I), 71 and seeking his 10th term, seemed to be sailing to another easy win against Binghamton-based high school history teacher George Phillips (R-C), who he defeated two to one two years ago, when last week’s contretemps-in-a-Saugerties-debate took place, going viral nationally and suddenly drawing big money into the local race. Running with a growing number of “Had Enough?” signs popping up around the district, Phillips, 34, told Ulster Publishing last week that he was hoping to ride a national GOP wave.
To the south, in the recently contentious (and formerly stalwart GOP) New York 19th U.S. House of Representatives district, incumbent John Hall (D-WF), the former rock musician from the band Orleans, Ulster County legislator and Saugerties School Board member, is seeking a third term against opthalmologist Nan Hayworth (R-I-C), who has been pulling in heavy funds from across the country and currently has nearly double her opponent’s war chest left for her race’s final weeks.
To the north and east, Scott Murphy (D-I-WF), a former software company owner and venture capitalist, is battling to keep the 20th District Congressional seat he won in a hard-fought battle in winter, 2009, against Chris Gibson (R-C), a retired Army Colonel from Kinderhook, seems to be holding a steady lead in a formerly Republican stronghold.
To the west, in the central New York 24th Congressional District that was once the longtime home of moderate Republican Sherwood Boehlert, centrist incumbent Michael A. Arcuri, on the Democratic and Moderates lines, is facing off a second time against businessman Richard L. Hanna, on the Republican, Independence, and Conservative lines, in what’s currently projected to be one of the tightest races nationwide.
For the State Senate, ballots will be relatively simple, with the 39th State Senate District, including the City of Kingston, and Ulster County towns of Esopus, Lloyd, Marlborough and Plattekill, seeing incumbent William J. Larkin (R-C-I) holding onto a bank account of $255,251 to challenger Harley Doles (D-WF) total of $183 as of the 32-day reporting deadline of October 1. Doles is acting Supervisor of the Orange County town of Monroe; Larkin, in the Senate since 1990, was previously a state Assemblyman since the late 1970s, and lives in the town of Cornwall-on-Hudson.
For the massive 42nd State Senate District, which includes the towns of Denning, Gardiner, Hardenburgh, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Olive, Rochester, Rosendale, Saugerties, Shandaken, Shawangunk, Town of Kingston, Ulster, Wawarsing and Woodstock, incumbent John Bonacic (R-C-I), a former Orange County real estate lawyer and state Assemblyman who first took the seat in 1998, had a war chest of $612,677 as of October 1 versus $21,789 for challenger David Sager (D-WF), a Sullivan County Legislator from Jeffersonville who changed his party registration earlier this year for this run. But with Sager making the controversial subject of gas fracking, which he opposes, a key issue, the race may be tightening.
Given the precarious hold Democrats currently have on the Senate, any minor shifts for incumbent Republicans seem newsworthy this year…
For the solidly Democratic-controlled state Assembly, the Ulster County region includes two Republican seats and two Democratic.
In the 100th Assembly District, which includes the Ulster County towns of Lloyd, Marlborough and Shawangunk, Poughkeepsie-based incumbent Frank Skartados (D-WF) is being faced by former Assemblyman Thomas Kirwin (R-C-I), with October 1 financial filings showing things relatively even on that score, Skartados with $8,454 to $6,193 for Kirwin.
In the 101st Assembly District, which includes most of the remainder of Ulster County, incumbent Kevin Cahill (D-WF), a former Ulster County legislator who followed a brief first stint in the Assembly in the 1990s by securing his seat ever since the 1998 election, is being faced by Highland-based businessman and buffalo rancher Peter E. Rooney (R-C-I), who had self-financed his campaign with $9,000 to Cahill’s kitty of $52,528, as of the 32-day filing date.
In the county’s other Assembly districts, incumbent Republican Clifford Crouch of Delaware County, whose 107th Assembly District reaches into the town of Rochester, is running unopposed; as is Republican Pete Lopez of Schoharie County, whose long, Massachusetts-to-Pennsylvania stretching 127th Assembly District, invariably described as being similar to a tapeworm, includes the town of Saugerties.
In the county
The big race is for Ulster County Comptroller, one of the two new countywide positions approved via the new Charter form of government a couple of years back, that pits incumbent Elliott Auerbach (D-WF), a former Ellenville mayor and county Industrial Development Agency executive who has taken to calling himself “the county’s watch dog,” against former county legislator Fawn Tantillo (R-I-C) of New Paltz, who worked in retail before entering public service and, most recently, serving as Director of the Ulster County Office of Employment and Training. Much of this battle, it appears of late, has been fought in both the legislative chambers and a flurry of dueling press releases from each candidate’s offices.
For Ulster County Sheriff, incumbent Paul VanBlarcum (D-I-C), a longstanding police officer and former Shandaken town councilman who first rode into office in the post-Jail controversy Democratic sweep of 2006, is being faced by Republican candidate George Goodwin, a Sheriff’s Department Sergeant since 1992 and former Marine who served in the first Iraq war. Goodwin has said he rose to the race because, “You should always have a choice.”
The City of Kingston will be seeing a race for a City Judge position formerly held by new state Supreme Court justice James Gilpatric Jr., that was filled with the appointment of Larry Ball (D-I), as a part-time city judge, earlier this year. Ball, a Kingston native who started working as a judge three years ago, will be faced by Gilpatric’s former opponent, J. Michael Bruhn, Jr. (R-C), the son of former city and county Judge J. Michael Bruhn.
In Saugerties, incumbent Town Justice Wendy Ricks (D-I) is seeking re-election over challenger George Hass (R-C), a former Town of Olive Chief Constable and investigator for the NYS DMV Auto Theft Bureau.
There will also be referendum items on ballots in Marlborough and Olive, where library budgeting formulas are being put up for change, and expansion, and Wawarsing, where the town clerk’s term length is being pushed for a shift from two to four years.
Absentee voting instructions
November 1 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot in person, as well as the last day to postmark a ballot that must then be received by the board of elections no later than November 9, a week after Election Day on Tuesday, November 2. (Military Voter Ballots must be received no later than Nov. 15). November 2 is the last day to deliver any ballot in person to the board of elections.
Final financial disclosures of donations of over $1000, the so-called “11 Day Filing,” are also due Friday, October 22.++