Campaigns for the new Ulster County Legislature Districts 22 and 23 are underway, but quiet.
Democratic candidates John Parete, running in the towns of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive and Shandaken that make up the new District 22, and Don Gregorius, running to represent West Hurley and Woodstock in District 23, both spoke last week about getting lawn signs out in the coming days, as well as about the many Meet the Candidate events they expected to attend.
As for a Republican presence in both districts, names will be on ballots. But beyond that, any campaign will come down to nothing more than the number of folks wanting to pull a lever for the GOP November 8.
“Jack Jordan’s on the ballot but not running,” said the county Board of Election’s Republican commissioner Tom Turco of the GOP candidate in District 22 in an interview this week.
As for candidate James Monserrate in District 23, who also ran two years ago without any campaigning, Turco noted that, “I don’t know what’s happening with him. We have an address but he never gave us a phone number.” Monserrate did, however, appear at the Meet the Candidates night at the Lake Hill Fire House on October 19.
Parete, meanwhile, said that he’s “doing the best I can for my age getting around to talk to folks. I’m meeting everyone I can.”
A former chairman of the Ulster County Democratic Party who helped shepherd his candidates to a 2007 takeover of the county legislature, as well as a former Democratic commissioner at the Board of Elections, the 69-year old Parete is the long-time owner of the Boiceville Inn in the Town of Olive. He said that much of what he’s been hearing from voters this year is “the same as what one hears on a national level. They’re tired of paying taxes. They want the debt reduced, something the county’s already working on.”
He has also found that the political climate, especially in the vastly rural District 22, is off this year.
“The flooding and storms sort of disrupted everything,” Parete added. “No one’s doing quite the organized effort of other years.”
People bring up “the infirmary,” a reference to the Golden Hill Health Care Center closure that’s been all the news in recent weeks, as it appears to be moving towards privatization per County Executive Michael Hein’s budget, and a series of close votes by the present legislature. But basically, he added, “everybody’s just surviving.”
A constant campaign
Don Gregorius, the Woodstock incumbent who survived a committee challenge from current Olive legislator Roy Hochberg last Spring, defined the current race “a constant campaign” that is “not something I change just because it’s election time.”
He spoke about accomplishments he’s racked up over his years as a county legislator, as well as the many projects he’s continuing to work on. He spoke of the key issues — from Golden Hill to his district’s anti-fracking sentiments — that he likes addressing when he talks with constituents on a daily basis.
While Gregorius insisted on keeping much of his talk about current legislative business off the record, pending a vote and several candidate events that were taking place in West Hurley and Lake Hill last week, he did note hearing much from people about Irene-related problems, and voiced concerns about how the county’s going to handle pass-downs from the federal and state governments hitting local property taxes.
A former insurance executive, Gregorius enjoys delving into the details of capped Medicaid expenses and cost-sharing plans, the possible effects of federal block grants versus needs payments, and ensuring that people make decisions based on real information, and not just emotions or campaign promises. Now 65, he says he enjoys nothing more than rolling up his sleeves and getting to the core of thorny economic issues, which he believes are key a current legislator’s responsibilities these days.