Democrats rejoice: Andreassen and Filak win handily

Town Justice Claudia Andreassen and Receiver of Taxes Suzi Filak, two appointees, successfully fended off Republican challenges Tuesday evening in their first election.

According to unofficial results from the county’s board of elections, Andreassen defeated Ken Gilligan by a vote of 4,317 to 3,054.

Filak defeated challenger Cheryl DeForest 5,126 to 2,488.

Neither campaign had been ideological, though both winners faced criticism, especially in the final weeks — Andreassen for not being an attorney and a past conviction for passing a school bus on the right, and Filak for not holding a bachelor’s degree and being related by marriage (second or third cousin) to town Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton. But in the end Saugerties voters were not convinced, electing the two Democratically endorsed candidates by huge margins, mirroring outsized local support for President Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional candidate Julian Schreibman.


Andreassen was appointed by the town board to fill a vacancy created when town justice Wendy Ricks accepted a position with the Ulster County government.

Andresen’s legal experience has been in the probation department, where she worked for 25 years. During that time, she appeared in courts all over Ulster County and has worked with judges to determine sentencing or alternatives to sentencing in numerous cases.

Andreassen is married to Paul Andreassen, a building inspector and musician.

Filak started working in the town’s tax office in 2006, and served under longtime incumbent Peggy Nau, Born and raised in the Saugerties, Filak attended Cahill Elementary School and Saugerties High School.

Filak said her training under Nau prepared her well for the job. “She was a wonderful mentor, not just in the job but in life. She really taught me the virtue of patience. She is the most patient person I know, and she has made me a more patient person.