Town supervisor now a three-way race
George Heidcamp likes to point out that when he first became chair of the Saugerties Conservative Party over 20 years ago, the local paper quoted him saying the days of the party “rubber-stamping” Republican nominees were over. Indeed, there was no rubber-stamping at the Aug. 28 caucus, where Conservatives nominated Gaetana Ciarlante for supervisor and Doug Myer for highway superintendent after Republicans nominated Kelly Myers and Ray Mayone for those offices earlier this year.
After winning the party’s endorsement in 2011, which earned her 470 votes in the general election, Kelly Myers was defeated 54-17 at the caucus.
Ciarlante said the win shows Saugerties voters are taking her campaign seriously. “It shows that they recognize that neither the Republican candidate nor the Democrat candidate are addressing the concerns of the people of Saugerties,” she said. “Having a mainstream line on the ballot moves me from being a ‘spoiler’ to being a winner.”
A five-member search committee that interviewed all the candidates seeking the Conservative line on the November ballot recommended Ciarlante “overwhelmingly,” Heidcamp said.
“She is the most conservative candidate and the candidate for this party,” he added.
Myers said she was “surprised” and “disappointed” by the results. She believes that Heidcamp, in interviews and in an email circulated before the caucus, did his best to make sure she wasn’t the party’s pick.
She said the Conservative Party search committee, “really interviewed me aggressively. I don’t think they did that with the other candidate.”
In the email cited by Myers, Heidcamp compiled a list of reasons why she should not be supported, including references to last year’s budget process, fellow board members’ complaints about last-minute additions to the agenda, and her “unprecedented” decision on Sept. 27 to go into the audience and chastise the board as a citizen for approving a settlement over a tax agreement with Birchez developer Steve Aaron. Myers said the email went out to members of the Conservative Party. Heidcamp denies this, and said it only went out to “some of my friends.”
Myers and Heidcamp have had problems with each other during the last year or so, including spirited exchanges in the letters to the editor section of local papers around the new year. “He thinks he should have influence over the supervisor, and he doesn’t,” Myers said.
In response to Myers’ comments, Heidcamp said, “I have never tried to influence the supervisor or anyone else. Have I made suggestions? Yes.”
Republican Chairman Joe Roberti Jr. said Heidcamp’s reentry into local politics and subsequent lobbying against Myers stems entirely from a personal grudge against Myers for not supporting him in a disagreement with neighbor Derek Winnie, whom Heidcamp believes is violating town zoning law in the operation of a used car lot. (Winnie recently filed a lawsuit against Heidcamp, claiming harassment.)
Heidcamp denies this. “Absolutely unequivocally untrue!” he said. “My reasons for not supporting Kelly Myers were clearly spelled out in my email and the search committee overwhelmingly recommended Ciarlante. Numbers tell a story… Conservatives prefer Ciarlante to Myers, 54-17.”
Heidcamp, who is also president of the Saugerties Board of Education, was chair of the Conservative Party from 1988 or 1989 until 2008. He took over again from Mark Knaust in early August. He said the turnout of over 70 voters was the most he’d ever seen.