Village Trustee Don Hackett is having déjà vu.
“I’m shocked,” he said. “You’re the fourth person to ask about Chris Allen today.”
It was 11 a.m. on a Monday.
Though Allen ultimately lost the Sept. 10 Independence Primary 39-36 after all the absentee ballots were counted a week later, one thing seems clear: his hard work is turning the race for County Legislature District II (village, Barclay Heights) into a serious one.
“I’m going to win this race and a lot of people are going to be surprised,” says Allen.
He’s taking on Bob Aiello. First elected in 1996, Aiello won the most votes of any legislative candidate in 2009 when the vote was town-wide and easily won the first single-member district vote in 2011. But Allen believes Aiello is out of touch and vulnerable.
Allen has the support of the Democratic and Working Families parties. Aiello, the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.
Hackett, who recently worked with Allen resolving a resident’s issue with water quality, said the candidate has been a frequent presence at Village Board meetings this year. In his three years as a village trustee, Hackett said he hasn’t seen Aiello attend a board meeting or ask Village Board trustees how he can help. He said Allen asked him what the village needed. When Hackett said a new fire truck, Allen told him if elected he’d do what he could to find funding for it.
“I gotta give the kid [Allen] a lot of credit,” said Hackett, a Republican committeeman. “He’s getting out there and doing what he’s got to do. Bob Aiello has a tough road ahead of him.”
Indeed, Allen has been a frequent sight at local government meetings and community functions. By meeting with residents and local officials and working on solving their problems, he’s already behaving like a legislator. The plan seems to be to get the job by doing the job. So far, it’s making an impression.
Allen, 45, is a new face on the local political scene, though he’s not new to politics or Saugerties. He was born here and graduated from Saugerties High School. Afterward he attended a number of universities and received master’s degrees in Industrial Labor Relations from Rutgers University and Communication Theory and Rhetoric from the University of Colorado. After living in New Jersey and Colorado and working as a sports agent, he moved back to Saugerties in 2009 to take care of his sick father. His mother is also ailing, so much of his time has been taken up by caring for them and their affairs, he said.
With business partner Chris Decelle, a former Saugertiesian now living in California, Allen operates Rhetorical Strategies, a communications business. He recently agreed to do promotions for Saugerties Performing Arts Factory. He’d planned to get involved in local campaigns last year and discussed working with Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner during Tyner’s Congressional bid, though that didn’t happen.