Races for Kingston’s nine Common Council seats are taking shape in a busy political season which will end with at least five new city lawmakers.
With the deadline for nomination petitions passed, the current slate of candidates is likely to be the one voters see on September’s primary ballot, barring the entrance of independent candidates who have until August to file petitions.
The departure of five aldermen from the council, including three who stepped down to run for mayor, has led to a scramble by Democratic would-be lawmakers who might otherwise be discouraged from challenging an incumbent. Since 2007, Democrats have held seven of nine council seats.
“We have an excellent slate of candidates because we were able to be very selective,” said Kingston Democratic Committee Chairman Frank Cardinale. “We didn’t just fill in lines.”
The competition is reflected in two wards where Democrats will have to face a primary campaign before making it to the November ballot. In Ward 9, incumbent Alderman Hayes Clement is stepping down to run for Mayor. In 2009, Clement won a primary campaign against Democratic committeeman Mark Halwick Jr. and went on to best Republican Deborah Brown on the general election. Both Brown and Halwick are seeking the seat again this year. In addition, Halwick, who holds the party’s unofficial endorsement, faces a primary challenge from John Simek. Halwick also holds the Working Families Party line, creating a possible three-way race in November.
In Ward 5, where first-term incumbent Jennifer Fuentes is not seeking another term, the field is even more crowded, with the potential for a rare four-way general election. Bill Carey, who holds the Democratic Committee endorsement, will take on former Town of Ulster Supervisor Nick Woerner for the party nomination. In addition, Woerner holds the Independence Party line. The winner will run in a three-way race against Republican candidate Craig Johnson and Janai McDonough, who holds the Working Families Party line. If McDonough wins, she will be only the second Working Families Party candidate to serve on the council, Fuentes having been the first.
While Democrats are vying with each other and Republicans in the Sixth and Ninth Wards, in Wards 6 and 8 they will coast to victory unopposed. Two-term Alderman Ron Polacco opted to give up his Sixth Ward seat to enter the mayor’s race. Republicans have not fielded an opponent. As a result, Democrat Elisa Ball, who narrowly lost to Polacco in 2009, will have a clear path to council chamber. In Ward 8, veteran Alderman Bob Senor will also run unopposed.
Republican and Democratic candidates will face off in two more open-seat races in Wards 1 and 7. Former Republican Minority Leader Al Teetsel, who opted to take time off from the council in 2009 is seeking to return to his First Ward seat with endorsements from the Republican and Conservative parties. He will face newcomer Matt Dunn, who holds the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party lines. In Ward 7 Democrat Maryanne Mills will take on Republican/Conservative Curtis Dankelman to succeed longtime alderman and council Majority Leader Bill Reynolds.
In the Second Ward, Democratic incumbent Tom Hoffay faces a challenge from first-time candidate Seth Allen. Allen holds the Republican and Conservative Party lines, while Hoffay is endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties. Another young newcomer, Republican Nate Horowitz, will go up against Charlie Landi — the longest-serving alderman — for the Ward 3 seat. In Ward 4, two-term incumbent Democrat Shirley Whitlock will face Republican Fraiser Sprague.