Reynolds: Big primary day in Kingston

For a city at the crossroads like Kingston, it strikes me as positive there are seven people willing to take on the thankless task of trying to govern for the next four years.
A recent announcement by the school district puts things in perspective. Taxes are going up by double digits, said officials, but because assessments have been lowered by almost 10 percent, the true impact is “only” about 5.5 percent. There is no good news/bad news scenario here. While taxes to support what is clearly a dysfunctional operation are rising by something like twice the rate of inflation, property values are going down even faster. That’s what the next mayor will face on the city level, along with decreasing state and federal aid. I wonder if any of the candidates really appreciate what they’re signing up for.
Next week’s primary (Tuesday, Sept. 13) will leave only two, maybe three, standing, assuming one or more losers wishes to play spoiler as a minor-party candidate in the November elections.
Party primaries can be compared to family feuds. People of similar political bent find themselves at odds over candidates, so they hold an election. Average turnout is about one in six, suggesting these feuds are far more personal than family. This year’s mayoral primaries might draw 20 percent of enrollees. On the Democratic side, that means roughly 1,000 voters, on the Republican 450. With small samplings like that, weird things can happen. Some of the candidates are counting on it.
Let’s go to the candidates. First, the front runners from the June nominating conventions.
Democrat Hayes Clement and Republican Andi Turco-Levin, both freshman aldermen, came out convention with surprisingly large margins. Turco-Levin swamped a trio of opponents with something approaching 60 percent of the weighted delegate vote while Clement buried Shayne Gallo by a better than 2-1 margin.
If anything, Clement appears to have gotten stronger over the ensuing months, while Turco-Levin has come back to the pack. Clement’s 3-1 strength in fundraising is most obvious, what with billboards grinning down at motorists and multiple lawn signs on virtually every block. Anybody with any money left over will be sending out direct mailings this week.