And so it’s come to this: the final days of what’s certainly been the longest, perhaps the most contentious and without a doubt, a most dramatic presidential contest. It’s quite a test for our young republic as we grapple with a much closer up view of human foibles than was ever available before, thanks to social media and the ever powerful electronic communicative forces that have shrunk the news cycles to minutes and have allowed for, and disposed of surprises, instantly.
So let’s take a look at what we’ve got in store on election day, Tuesday, November 8.
At the top, there’s hardly any breath left to talk about the presidential contest. Trump v. Clinton. Hillary v. Donald. Kaine and Pence. There’s no going back now. An exhausted public will cast its ballots, and we’ll see who’s still standing.
19th Congressional district
The marquee race around here is the hotly contested one for the 19th District U.S. Congressional seat. As the Democrats struggle to make headway in the House of Representatives, seats without an incumbent running are prime targets. So it is, with the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, that the contest shapes up between former gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Zephyr Teachout and former state assemblyman (and also one time candidate for State Attorney General) Republican John Faso, both of whom lost those races to Andrew Cuomo. Teachout is a Sanders style left leaner, while Faso lists to starboard, though his record shows it more than his rhetoric.
The polls have this one tight as can be. You can see our website hudsonvalleyone.com for previous articles about this election, as we’ve written extensively about it.
46th State Senate
Also expected to be closely contested is the race for the 46th State Senate. It’s a seat that went Democratic by a whopping 18 votes in 2012, then swung to the red in 2014. Incumbent Republican George Amedore takes on Palatine town supervisor Sara Niccoli in a race that is profiled elsewhere in this issue.
51st State Senate
In Shandaken and Olive and in a district that on down through Krumville into parts of Kerhonkson, west past Cortland and north to almost Utica, 30 year incumbent Republican James Seward seeks re-election to the State Senate. His challenger this year is Jermaine Bagnall-Graham, a Democrat from Sherburne in Chenango County.
42nd State Senate
Also expected to be contested is the race for the 42nd State Senate. It’s a seat that’s been reliably held for years by Orange County incumbent John Bonacic. He’s drawn a Democratic challenger this year in Pramilla S. Malick.
Three candidates are somehow in the mild slugfest for county Surrogate Court judge — Democrat Sara McGinty, who won her party’s primary, though not its endorsement at convention, and has a dubious distinction of being listed as ‘not qualified’ by the Third Judicial Department Independent Judicial Elections Qualification Commissions, though the Ulster County Bar Association lists her as ‘qualified.’ Democrat Sharon Graff, despite losing in the primary, still holds the Green, Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines on the ballot. The UC Bar calls her ‘qualified,’ too.
Republican Peter Matera, an Assistant District Attorney, was the only one given a ‘highly qualified’ rating by the UC Bar. The state guys merely said ‘qualified.’
This race is also profiled elsewhere in this issue.
State assemblyman Pete Lopez, a Republican, returns for his next term in an unopposed run.
State assemblyman Kevin Cahill, a Democrat, is a ten-time winner for the office — he did lose once, back in the Republican wave election of 1994, but recouped in 1998 after sitting out two terms, to roll up nine straight. He’s always played it straight in times of huge ethics upheaval in the state government, but got written up in the Times-Herald Record last week for bad bookkeeping relating to expenses.
His opponent, Jack Hayes, a former Gardiner supervisor and county legislator, is somehow not on the Republican line, though he was endorsed by the party. County GOP chairman Roger Rascoe took the blame for it, for not filing a form that would allow an out-of-party person to be on the party line. So Hayes runs only as a Conservative.
For more on this race, too, see our website, as we ran a profile of it in last week’s issue.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is also, apparently, in an election, though no one’s heard much about it. The Man Who Would Be Majority Leader, one of the nation’s most powerful posts, should the Democrats wrest control of the august Upper Chamber, does have a challenger after all. Wendy Long, no relation to state Conservative party chair Michael Long, is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative and Reform party lines. Long does own the distinction of losing a U.S. Senate race by the largest margin of defeat for any statewide office in New York History, having been clobbered by Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand by 46 percentage points (72%-26%). Her sacrificial lamb status is amply illustrated by the September 30 cash on hand reports that gave Schumer some $20.5 million and Long, a mere $143,000.
County Proposition One
The last of the countywide contested races is County Proposition Number One, the relocation of the Ulster County Family Court.
Simply put (and again, look online for our piece from last week’s issue, or dig you paper copy out from the recycling bin) the county facilities on Lucas Avenue are not, according to the state’s Office of Court Administration, adequate. They’ve ordered Ulster County to fix it. The county made its studies, and though as we speak here, the costs may be rising, Ulster County chose to move to the Business Resource Center on Ulster Avenue, in an old shopping strip mall that the county owns and has repurposed as office space.
The only problem is that the site is 800 feet over the line into the town of Ulster and state law says Family Court has to be in the county seat…the city of Kingston. You can move it there, provided you hold a referendum and the county’s voters say OK.
So, an odiously worded proposition tries to tell us that the move would ‘reduce the need to raise property taxes’ if it were located in a ‘more suitable county owned property,’ politicking when the referendum should just have asked ‘should we do it?’
Please note, that this proposition is on the back of the ballot. You have to turn it over to see it, and you should be advised of that at the polls.
State Supreme Court
We are treated to an unopposed election of two State Supreme Court Justices in the Third Judicial District, where such judgeships are brokered like poker chips, and thus, like it or not (or even if you have no idea who they are) you will elect Andrew G. Ceresia and Michael Mackey to 14 year terms.
Saugerties Proposition Number One
This proposition asks Saugerties residents if they would approve of an increase in the length of the term of the town’s Superintendent of Highways, from two years to a four year term, beginning as of January 1, 2018. The next election for Superintendent of Highways will be November, 2017. If approved, then the longer term would begin with the winner of that election.
Please note, again, that this proposition is on the back of the ballot. You have to turn it over to see it and mark it. Poll watchers and election inspectors should advise you of that when you pick up your ballot.
Term lengths on ballot in New Paltz
When voters go to the polls in New Paltz this November 8, they are advised to turn the ballot over and vote on local referenda. The two town-specific questions are similar: each will ask voters permission to double the length of a term of office from two years to four. The positions in question are town supervisor and highway superintendent, and if they pass, the new term length will not take place until elections are held next year.
The last time such a question was put to voters here, in 2006, the town clerk’s term was extended but both the supervisor’s and superintendent’s were left as is, at two years apiece. While a referendum of this nature is not intended to be about the current office-holder, the popularity of those presently serving could well play a part in voters’ decisions.
Gardiner ballot to include referendum on four-year highway superintendent term
When Gardiner residents go to the polls this Election Day, they will be asked to decide whether or not the two-year term of office of the superintendent of highways should be extended to four years. Under New York State law, any change in the term of a paid elected municipal official requires a public referendum.
Incumbent highway superintendent Brian Stiscia petitioned the Gardiner Town Board for the change in term, arguing that the present system requires too much of the superintendent’s time to be spent on campaigning during the limited months when weather conditions are favorable for road repairs. Since Stiscia is up for reelection in November 2017, his current term would not be affected by the change. If local voters approve the new local law, the first four-year term for a highway superintendent would commence in January 2018.
Polls in New York State will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8.