There was a lot of misinformation published in our local papers regarding the results of the Independence Party Primary, so let’s start with the basics.
Most importantly, Independence Party voters who went to the polls in Legislative District I on primary day and wrote in their candidate choice for legislature did not have their votes posted on the Board of Election website until Thursday afternoon- a full day and one-half after the polls closed. As a result, the papers reported, incorrectly, that Mike Harkavy received no votes, when indeed he had received 9 votes. Voters are owed an explanation as to why and how this happened. Mike Harkavy is owed an explanation. Yet the board of elections has gone silent. Perhaps this is something the press might want to explore, if for no other reason than to ensure it isn’t repeated in the general election. As of right now, Terry Valk has 13 votes, Mike has 9 votes and another write-in candidate has two votes. There are five outstanding absentee ballots for this race, all of which have been received by the board of elections. Obviously, this race is too close to call.
Right now, no town candidate can be declared a winner, though we are really pleased that our two endorsed town council members, Fred Costello, Jr. and Leeanne Thornton, have a commanding lead going into the absentee ballot count. With our highway superintendent candidate Darren Chlud two votes ahead of his opponent and our super Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel just a few votes down against his, these races are too close to call. There are 29 outstanding absentee ballots for the town-wide races for supervisor, town council and highway superintendent. Those ballots had to be postmarked by Sept. 12. Sixteen ballots had been received by Friday, and others will surely arrive by the deadline. Whether or not all 29 will be received is anyone’s guess.
The ballots for the Saugerties Independence Party races will be counted by the Board of Elections on Thursday, Sept. 22. Contrary to what one of the papers reported, none of the ballots have been counted yet. Unless some of the ballots are contested and sent to a judge for resolution, we should all know the results of the Saugerties Independence Party Primary by Thursday evening. It’s worth waiting to get it right.
There are also a few affidavit ballots submitted by people whose names were not on the voter lists. These will be counted only if they are verified by the Board of Elections.
And now for a bit of commentary
Saugerties Republican Chairman Joe Roberti, Jr. and Independence Party Chairman Len Bernardo must have been licking their chops during the past few weeks, thinking they had the Independence Party Primary in the bag. After all, they had maneuvered to get two Republican Town Council candidates on the ballot to challenge Independence Party members Fred Costello and Leeanne Thornton. Bernardo didn’t bother to interview any of the other candidates who asked to be considered for the Independence endorsement even though they had filled out his questionnaires. Nah…he just gave the nod to all of Roberti’s candidates. They figured the chances of Greg Helsmoortel, Darren Chlud and Mike Harkavy winning a write-in campaign would be close to zero. But just to make sure, Roberti stepped up his trash talk about Greg Helsmoortel, even throwing in some of his long-discredited lies from a few years ago for good measure. Then he turned his poison pen on Darren Chlud, one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. He even sabotaged his own Republican candidate for legislative district 1, Terry Valk, in an effort to make nice-nice with restless Conservatives who wanted one of their own in the mix.
Unfortunately for Roberti and Bernardo, our candidates work hard and a lot of “independent” Independence Party members showed up at the polls to say “You’re not the boss of us.” Should be interesting. l
Donn Avallone is the acting chairman of the Saugerties Democratic Committee.
Donn Avallone. is the acting chair of the Saugerties Democratic Party. Political columns appear around election time each year. These views do not represent those of the Saugerties Times, and equal space is given to other local parties.