Hugh Reynolds: Suddenly, Susan

Susan Zimet. (Photo: Lauren Thomas)

Susan Zimet. (Photo: Lauren Thomas)

I’ll confess that New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, who declared her candidacy for state Assembly against Kevin Cahill on Tuesday morning, baffles me. I can live with her machine-gun delivery, her tendency to complicate the simplest of things, the fact that when you ask her the time she’ll tell you how to make a watch. But it’s just hard sometimes to follow her logic.

For several months now, the buzz was that Zimet, who once aspired to the state Senate, would challenge nine-term incumbent Cahill in a Democratic primary.

On Monday, she put out a teaser press release that “an important announcement” would be forthcoming on Tuesday. Hoping at least for a heads-up, I asked Zimet at the Kingston mayor’s message on Monday night what she planned to announce some 15 hours later.

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“It’s a surprise,” she responded, smiling.

“Surprise?” I said. “Let’s see if I can work through this. Everybody says you’re running for Assembly, so if it’s a surprise you must not be running. Right?”

She smiled an enigmatic smile. “It’s a surprise,’ she repeated.

So I was surprised, though hardly shocked, after reading an e-mail shortly after 8:15 a.m. the next day that Susan was in fact running. “It’s time for a change,” she said without mentioning the Democratic incumbent, Cahill.

Zimet may be surprised when Cahill, who treated her announcement as if it were a fly on his corned beef and cabbage, proves no pushover.

Riding a one-trick pony, the “Cahill sales-tax crisis,” won’t cut it. Cahill is already preparing to utilize the kind of baffling Cahillian logic he mastered years ago. He has some serious ‘splaining ahead, as even Democratic stalwarts are looking askance at the sales-tax maneuver he pulled off last June.

She’ll need to put together a campaign team fairly quickly if she hasn’t already. And it will have to be broad-based, meaning something more than her husband Steve Auerbach on the letterhead.

Zimet can depend on Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein lampooning the incumbent. Whether the county exec will lend more than lip service to Zimet’s campaign — meaning a serious cash infusion, or at least the loan of a contributors’ list — remains to be seen.

The first test of Zimet’s strength will come at the unofficial Democratic county convention at the end of May. Cahill has been on a first-name basis with delegates for years. The loser will take his or her campaign “to the people.”

Unless the state Senate comes around to an Assembly-approved June 24 primary, state primaries will be held in early August. That will provide plenty of time for both sides to rally their bases. Turnout, I predict, will be abysmal. Advantage: Cahill.

Recall that Zimet announced for county executive against Hein in the spring of 2011, only to withdraw without explanation a few weeks later. I’m still baffled about that one.

At best, Zimet will ride a wave of anti-incumbent revulsion against Albany corruption to narrow victory. At worse, she won’t even beat this guy in her home town.

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Mayoral message

History was made at Kingston’s City Hall Monday night. Shayne Gallo’s third annual mayor’s message, delivered about three months late, ran on and on and on to a record-setting hour and 40 minutes. (An hour is considered an endurance test at these kinds of snooze fests.)

“It was a little long, wasn’t it?” Hizzoner said with a smile as an enthusiastic crowd of about 150 well-wishers, “stakeholders” and public officials rubbing their aching butts.

As usual, the mayor’s mother Nancy put things in perspective. “We could have used some cushions,” she grumbled, “but it was worth it.”

Gallo, approaching his 29th month in office, spoke from a pile of looseleaf notes. “I was up until 4 a.m. putting this together,” he said. He displayed intimate knowledge of virtually every aspect of city government and the community that supports it.

He repeatedly gave every indication of wanting to be around not just for an hour and 40 minutes, nor for just another 22 months, but for a long time. Having previously announced for a second term in 2015, Gallo spoke of projects reaching fruition in “five or six years,” presumably under his guidance.

Gallo the public speaker comes across quite differently than as he is perceived by critics, members of the Common Council and some media. The image of Gallo, at least on this occasion, was of a public official in charge, on top of things, a leader open to new ideas, conciliatory, receptive. That may have appeared a paradox in some quarters. “It is my job to hold a mirror up to the community, to determine collectively, what you want done to make this a model city,” he said.

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Under the now-distant federal war on poverty, the phrase “model city” used to be a derogatory term, referring to godforsaken places where crime, poverty and hoplessness prevailed. Think of Newburgh. Under Gallo, the model city of Kingston becomes a place to emulate, a progressive town on the move, serving its citizens and attracting new residents and businesses. Kingston’s long, slow decline from over 29,000 residents in 1960 to about 23,000 now has been reversed, he told his audience. Happy times are here again, or soon will be.

Strange bedfellows

Gallo talked of forming partnerships with the school district, the county, the federal government, business organizations, clergy, senior citizens and youth groups.

One partner he seems not to want and apparently doesn’t need is Assemblyman Cahill, whom Gallo went out of his way to repeatedly bash for the so-called “Cahill sales-tax crisis.”

Prior to Gallo’s address, Council Majority Leader Matt Dunn, a frequent target of mayoral ire, dismissed Gallo’s efforts as a press conference. I think Dunn was dead wrong on that account. This was a campaign speech, and well delivered.

Gallo’s lawyer-son Evan works for Cahill as a legislative aide, at about $50,000 a year. Imagine the conversations around the Gallo family dinner table.

There is one comment

  1. endrun

    Let’s see, two examples(God knows there must be more) of how city officials failed to uphold the law, even though in theory they are charged to uphold it:1)the trashing of the City Charter residency requirement for city employees which then opened the door for Sottile’s pick of Schupp to head DPW(otherwise, a la Ross Perot style, best referred to as “That Giant Schupping Sound”;2)the council’s act of insisting, in 2006, which it has now been taken to task on and has finally and thankfully demurred after actually reading the state DOT regs so badly and roundly misinterpreted by his Noble-ness in 2006, on a speed limit rise from 15 to 25 on the Colonial Drive School Zone. Ig-Noble of him there. (Still no “Entering School Zone” signs after a full 8 years since the HeadStart school was built) It’s the McGrane family business there under another Irish name…so what’s new there and why should anyone have a COW over it? Only because Hugh Reynolds hasn’t done his homework, or is to shy to write the truth, perhaps a bit o’ both moight we see me laddies and lassies? New Stop signs,but no School Zone signs. Clever?? Adept?? Done with aplomb and passion?? Avoided as an issue as if Ralph Nader himself brought it up and decided to use it in a Presidential debate to which he would not be invited? Done with the level of passion we saw when men were tossing around silicone boob models to poke fun at their female counterparts?? Done with the level on-target intellect on the level seen when some guys put human feces in the work gloves of Jeanne Edwards, and by so doing, clearly made themselves the REAL BOOBS there?? Or just plain RETARDED?? Maybe someone–anyone and everyone, all 10 of them perhaps(aside from all two of the attorneys or something), who can do something about this– needs to stay up til 4 AM here working on getting THIS remedied!! I realize that nine out of those ten are not paid enough to pay much attention to stuff like this….but it’s time to do so anyway, folks…Just…plain……RETARDED. Sottile and Cahill are not on any same level, Hughie baby…any comparison here between them is a failing grade for political writing right off the bat….although I do agree, the Cahill bashing over the sales tax thing OUGHT be a political nonstarter, although it will be used because it can be you see…however the bigger baby here is the county exec by far, who has mostly gotten his way with everything, is handsomely paid for it, pays his yes men in the office well to also ignore serious daily issues in the county, while paying no attention to the needs of people a la the daily operations of the county, and ought to be successfully challenged on that basis. “Zimet” is a “zip it”… that is also agreed(besides which, even as it is a nice thought on some level to elect a woman, no matter how loud she yells on any issue that is relatively small and unimportant while ignoring the ones that are important(anyone can write this movie script), the boy’s network in Albany is going to think less of her anyway–not that it should necessarily…but the movie can be written there, too, so she cannot obtain any change at all…and who is her loud mouth kidding on this?). By God, the Democratic Party OUGHT to be able to come up with some other challenger, I would think..someone who can tell it like it is in Albany about the rotten corruption in this state and what we need to to about it..and someone actually willing TO DO something about it..hmmmm……can…and will…can…be two different things….

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