Woodstock and West Hurley Democrats chose Jonathan Heppner of Woodstock to be the standard bearer for the party in the November election for county legislature, District 23. At the party’s county convention Wednesday, May 27, Heppner, 27, was the only one nominated, as both candidates who had previously announced intentions to run for the seat being vacated by longtime legislator Don Gregorius dropped out before the convention. Kathy Moretti had signaled that she would not run in the past weeks. Only the morning of the convention did Bill Schechter, of Lake Hill, take his leave from the race, leaving the field clear for Heppner.
Republicans will convene Wednesday, June 3 at the Chateau in Kingston (formerly Hillside Manor). As of press time, there is no announced Republican candidate for the seat.
Heppner has some resume to consider. The Onteora High School and Manhattanville College graduate is the Deputy Press Secretary for the New York State Democrats in the State Senate, after having served as communication director for former State Senator Terry Gipson. He’s a member of the Woodstock Environmental Commission and he worked on President Obama’s 2012 campaign in Virginia.
He was nominated by Laura Ricci, who until recently when she announced her own campaign for Woodstock Town Board, was town Democratic chairwoman. Mike Lourenso, the current Democratic chair seconded. ” I liked him. He’s fresh blood. He’ll fight for changes, for seniors, for jobs,” said Lourenso. “He mentioned all that at the committee. I think the committee liked him.”
Heppner, who, despite not having any opposition at the convention, would not offer a quote before the voting, expressed his thanks. “I’m proud of the support of Woodstock and West Hurley,” he said. “As someone who was born and raised in Woodstock and who is making his life here, I look forward to working for senior citizens, for the environment, for the towns. I’ve met with officials in the town, Cathy Magarelli, Jay, Ken…Bill Schechter and Kathy Moretti were both very kind. I had good discussions with both…”
Technically, a September primary is still possible, should another candidate gather the requisite signatures on Democratic petitions.
Primaries on tap
Ulster Democrats will wage primaries in two legislative election districts while allowing incumbent Republicans a pass in five others.
Delegates unanimously nominated county executive Mike Hein for a third term and county family court judge Anthony McGinty for a second 10-year term. The party did not nominate a candidate for district attorney, an office held by two-term Republican Holley Carnright. The incumbent DA announced for a third term shortly before the convention convened.
Democrats hold a 13-10 majority in the legislature.
In contested nominations, Brian Woltman narrowly bested Jennifer Schwartz Berky in Kingston District 7 by a weighted vote of 390.5 to 379, while five-term incumbent Richard Parete was beaten 494.50 to 344 by Marbletown councilman Douglas Adams. Parete ran without opposition the last two elections. He said he was not surprised by the results, which followed town caucuses. “I told you I was going to lose, but I won’t lose the primary,” he said. “I guess I just came up a little short.”
Berky and Parete are planning primaries.
Legislature chairman John Parete was nominated in Olive and Shandaken without opposition. He was nominated by Tom Rinaldo, interim Shandaken chair, who called on fellow Democrats to contest every seat.
Democrats nominated nine incumbents: Chris Allen in Saugerties, Peter Loughran and David Donaldson in Kingston; T.J. Briggs in Wawarsing, Tracey Bartles in Gardiner, Manna Jo Greene in Rosendale, Hector Rodriguez in New Paltz and Lynn Archer in Rochester/Wawarsing.
Six newcomers were nominated along with a former legislator.
Former legislator Laura Chasin nominated Roscoe Pecora, another former legislator, to run in District 8. The two served in the 80s when Pecora was a Republican. Jonathan Ridgeway was nominated in Lloyd District 9, Gary Pregno in Lloyd/Marlborough district 10, Tara Fitzgerald in Plattekill District 12, Tim Distel in Shawangunk/Wawarsing district 14, Jane Ann Williams in New Paltz District 17 and Heppner in Woodstock District 23.
Democrats did not nominate candidates in two of three Saugerties districts, or in Ulster/Kingston district 4, Marlborough District 11 or Shawangunk district 13.
Legislators serve two-year terms. Rank and file legislators are paid $10,000 a year, while party leaders are paid $12,500. The chairman, who is elected by the legislature, usually from the majority party, is paid $19,500 and elected annually.
Kingston Dems deny Gallo
Convening earlier at the Best Western hotel Wednesday evening, the Kingston Democratic Committee voted to endorse Steve Noble over incumbent Shayne Gallo for mayor and incumbent Jim Noble over challenger Jeanette Provenzano for alderman-at-large.
In the weighted voting system used to tally the balloting among city committee members, Steve Noble, a city environmental programs manager and environmental educator, got 1,365 votes; Gallo, seeking his second term in office, got 1,045. Jim Noble, the longtime alderman-at-large and Steve Noble’s uncle, fended off Provenzano, who’s stepping away from the county legislature after 22 years, by a vote of 1,609-748.
Four years ago, Hayes Clement won the committee nod for mayor over Shayne Gallo, but Gallo forced a primary. Gallo beat Clement by a handful of votes on primary day and went on to crush GOP nominee Ron Polacco in the general election.
“I feel great,” Steve Noble said after his win. “It’s a great endorsement to have, being a relative newcomer to the party. … We’re expecting a primary, so we’re going to be getting out there, knocking on doors, getting signatures and letting people know who I am. The best part of tonight is that it leads to the next step.”
As for the incumbent, Gallo expressed confidence that he would prevail in the primary and said he would run on his record. “I’ll keep pursuing initiatives like the Greenline, bringing back Broadway, seeking funding for new initiatives like the Cedar Street project and continuing to try to stimulate investment in the industrial park.”
Gallo also took a swipe at his foe. “He’s a reflection of a group of old-boy crony Democrats who want to go back to the four years that were prior and a time where people were disconnected to their party and disconnected to their government.”
Brian Hollander, Hugh Reynolds, Dan Barton