Kingston political legends Provenzano, Jim Noble, contend for city’s No. 2 office

Jeanette Provenzano (Photo: Dan Barton) and Jim Noble. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Jeanette Provenzano (Photo: Dan Barton) and Jim Noble. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

With Republicans failing to field a candidate for the city’s second-highest elected office, the race for alderman-at-large will come down, at the Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 10, to a pair of veteran Kingston Democrats on opposite sides of the party’s factional split.

Jim Noble, 65, has served on the Common Council for 18 years. In 2002 he was elevated from Ward 6 alderman to council president/alderman-at-large upon the death of then-mayor T.R. Gallo. Since then, he has won re-election three times, most recently in 2011.


His opponent in the Sept. 10 primary, Jeanette Provenzano, has her own, equally lengthy political resume. She was first elected to the county legislature in 1986 and has served a total of 26 years there. Along the way, she’s been both the legislature’s minority and majority leader and helped implement charter reform and the current county executive form of governance. Provenzano is running alongside incumbent Mayor Shayne Gallo, while Noble is running with his nephew, mayoral challenger Steve Noble.

Provenzano describes herself as a longtime ally of the man she’s now trying to unseat. She said she’s had her eye on the alderman-at-large job since 2011, when Democratic incumbent James Sottile announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor. Provenzano said she expected Jim Noble to run for mayor, clearing the way for her to seek the number-two spot. When he didn’t, she said, she stayed out of the race out of respect.

Four years later, it’s a different story. “After watching the last year, year and a half with no line of communication [between Jim Noble and Shayne Gallo], the constant turmoil, I said, ‘Enough,’” said Provenzano. “I understand the need for debate and sharing ideas but you need to compromise and you don’t do that by fighting on the front page of the Freeman.”

Provenzano praised Gallo for his work on replacing aging infrastructure and welcoming new business and initiatives in the city “with open arms.” She also criticized Noble and the Kingston Democratic Committee, accusing them of working to undermine Gallo’s plans. Like Gallo, Provenzano was harshly critical of Noble’s decision two years in a row to let Democratic Committee Chair Joe Donaldson cast the deciding vote for council majority leader, rather than breaking the tie himself. Donaldson cast his vote for Gallo opponent Matt Dunn (D-Ward 1).

“There have been plans laid out for almost a year [by city Democrats] to unseat Mayor Shayne Gallo,” said Provenzano. “It’s distressing and it’s not right.”

Noble: Shayne’s shut me out

Noble readily admits a lack of communication with the mayor’s office, but said that the fault is entirely Shayne Gallo’s. Noble notes that he had a close working relationship with Gallo’s brother and Sottile, but said that that ended after he supported Gallo’s opponent in the 2011 mayoral primary, Hayes Clement. Since taking office, Noble said, Gallo has consistently refused to meet with him share information or even return phone calls. Noble said their relationship reached a nadir in October 2013 the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. When the storm hit, Gallo was out of the country on vacation. Noble headed up the city’s response to the disaster. When Gallo returned, he called a meeting of department heads and other city officials to discuss lessons learned and possible changes to the city’s disaster response protocols. Noble was not invited.

“From the very beginning it’s been very hard to have any communications with him,” said Noble. “He doesn’t want independence. He wants people to do whatever he says.”

Frozen out of the mayor’s office, Noble said he has continued to work, largely behind the scenes, keeping the council running. The council president is in charge of directing proposed legislation to the appropriate committee and helping follow lawmakers craft proposals and chairing council meetings.

For the past four years, Noble has also been charged with leading the city’s Comprehensive Plan committee. The resulting plan lays out an ambitious blueprint for the future of Kingston which encompasses everything from easing traffic flow to overhauling the zoning code and creating simpler, more predictable planning guidelines. Noble said that with the plan complete, it would take political will and close attention to actually bring the proposals to fruition.

“We have all of these recommendations,” said Noble. “I don’t want to see them sit on a shelf. I want them to become real and meaningful.”

While Noble is staking his re-election bid entirely on the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, Provenzano has a backup in the form of the Independence Party endorsement. If she loses the Democratic race, she could carry the Independence banner in November. Provenzano said that she did not know if she would continue to campaign if she lost the primary.

There are 4 comments

  1. Keith White

    Kingston needs a new style in the Mayor’s office. Gallo practices an old style of exclusive, vendetta politics. His true personality can be seen in his treatment of Chris Rea. Rea has proven his innocence in every jurisdiction yet Gallo’s ego has turned failed prosecution into persecution. Jeanette Provenance just wants to be somebody. She has hung around politics for decades with little accomplishment and has been a stepper and fetcher for the party. Here reward is a title. Kingston will not move forward under either of these individuals. Too much ego. Anything is better than more of the same. Gallo is a political terrorist. Everyone walks around on eggshells waiting for the next outburst or retaliation for disagreeing. The Democrats have a chance to rectify their mistake four years ago by sending Gallo looking for work. A ‘no’ for Gallo and Provenance is a ‘yes’ vote for Kingston.

  2. gerald berke

    Provenzano, whatever she is, has it right: Gallo has been a whipping boy for the party, Hoffay, Donaldson, Noble… Gallo is no choir boy, but Kingston is not a reality show, played for conflict and ratings… it is so much easier, ridiculously so, to remember a few lines of scandal than actually try to understand what government really does… “ego”, “political terrorist” … nothing about taxes, budget, roads, public work or the faintest understanding of the workings of government and what it takes…
    Not to take anything from Steve, he has presented himself very well… but he has not, will not address where his support comes from… and there is a willful and wishful naiveté that Steve will be able to escape political push and pull… ultimately, he will have to make the appointments that his backers have in store for themselves…
    He might get all the credit for the work Gallo has put in place…if it doesn’t work, well, they can say that just goes to prove Gallo didn’t do the great job he said he did …
    I’d keep Gallo just to let it all play out… and Kingston is totally happening…under Shayne (not a choir boy) Gallo’s watch…

    1. Keith White

      I understand government very well. I watched over the last 40 years as politicians play us. When you elect someone you are giving them permission to make decisions on your behalf. Sometimes those decisions are not available to the public so you better be as sure as you can that the person you elect has true integrity. My comment was not all inclusive of my opinion on taxes, or other important issues. It was about Gallo’s integrity. Gallo is a sheep in wolves clothing. Chris Rea is a fine, hard working, and honest person. He is the most educated fireman that ever was employed by the Kingston Fire Dept. He was told by the District Attorney, Supreme Court judges, Appellate Court judges, and a Hearing Court judge that Chris Rea is innocent. He was ordered to pay the man his back pay and yet he refuses. He has put an innocent man in a prison of financial suffering, humiliation, emotional pain out of ego and spite. I don’t have to convince you because the law has deemed Chris Rea innocent. Period. You obviously will sell your soul to the devil. And very cheaply at that. That is why certain political parties are so successful. Give you back .10 on the dollar and keep .90 and get your blind loyalty. What Gallo has accomplished anyone can do. What Gallo is willing to do to get it done no one should do. It’s more about being in the right place at the right time. I refuse to elect an immorality person like Gallo for any reason including a few crumbs. You should think more of yourself and rise above it. Gallo does not address the root causes of Kingston ‘ s problems because it is difficult and politically dangerous. He just masks them long enough to embellish his political endeavors. Without addressing the root causes none of the window dressing will last. Gallo could care less. He should apologize and pay Chris Rea immediately and then resign.

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