As if we didn’t have enough Paretes in public office these days, word around the Democratic clubhouse is that five-term county legislator Rob Parete of Accord is giving serious consideration to a run in the newKingston-fly-me-to-Montgomery County 46th State Senate District.
Brother Rich Parete was elected to the legislature with Rob in 2003. Poppa John Parete was elected from Olive-Shandaken last year.
For Rob Parete and his wife, the former Nicole Tucker of Saugerties, the choices are challenging. The couple, married last summer, is expecting their first child in August. Usually, political campaigns and diapers don’t mix, though they sometimes smell the same.
The sprawling district is twice the size of Ulster County, but Ulstercontains 31 percent of the population of the new district (The 46th contains only Lloyd, Esopus, Kingston city, Kingston town, Ulster, Saugerties, Woodstock, Hurley and Marbletown). Should Parete choose to run, he won’t be spending much time at home between this August and November, and as a practical matter not much time after that.
“My family has to be my first consideration, but this is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often,” Parete told me. Wife Nicole, like her husband, is a political junkie. The couple met when she was running for county legislature from Saugerties in 2009. She is supportive.
Parete has been in contact with state Sen. Mike Gianaris of Queens, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, who while non-committal obviously likes this candidate’s credentials.
As with most things political, there are connections. Gianaris, who served ten years in the Assembly before being elected to the upper house in 2010, counts veteran assemblyman Kevin Cahill among close friends. So does Parete, who served as a Cahill staffer before he ran for county legislator.
With Republicans holding a two-vote majority in the state Senate, Gianaris believes Democrats can break through again this year. They will have to convince voters they will do a better job than the disgraceful bunch that seized the majority in 2008. New faces, like Parete, a Boy Scout if I ever saw one, could showcase that commitment.
There are, according to the grapevine, two or there other Democratic hopefuls, in two or three other counties. Due to its population, however, Ulster carries clout. In any case, Gianaris said the new district would be targeted by both parties. The campaign chairman said he inherited a $3 million debt when he took over as DSCC last year, but has since whittled it by half. “We will be competitive,” he vowed.
Reached last week, Gianaris said the district nominating committee “has a couple of weeks” to make a decision. In fact, time is short. June 5 is the first day for circulating petitions.
For sure, the Democratic candidate will face a well-financed, determined opponent in anointed-by-the-gods Republican nominee George Amedore of Montgomery. Unlike divided Democrats, Amedore, a two-term assemblyman, will be nominated by acclaim and heavily bankrolled by the well-heeled Republican Senate Campaign Committee.
Should Parete secure the Democratic designation, the outcome of the race may well hinge on whether Parete can compete with the heavily financed Amedore in the normally Democratic towns west of Albany, where his opponent has substantial name recognition.
The controversy over naming the Saugerties town hall after either Medal of Honor winner Roger Donlon (a hometown hero) or former town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, who led the charge to acquire the former manufacturing plant for municipal use, will continue at least until the town board meeting on June 13, when local veterans plan a rally in support of Donlon.
Donlon lives in Leavenworth, Kansas these days, but was back in town recently after the death of his sister. The first Medal of Honor winner in the Vietnam War for his actions in a 1964 battle which inspired a key scene in the John Wayne film The Green Berets, Donlon already has the auditorium above village hall named for him and the American Legion park down the street. But while almost everybody in officialdom apparently forgot it, the new town hall was also named for Donlon in 2001, a few years before the property was officially deeded to the town. From what I’ve read and heard, the retired Army colonel, while grateful for the honor, reportedly thinks he’s been sufficiently recognized in the town where he grew up.
Helsmoortel deserves a good deal of credit for rallying the public on a project that had divided the town for almost a generation. He voted against the original Donlon designation on the grounds that the town hall should be named for all veterans. Donlon, in recently published reports, agreed.