Town Democratic Party Chairman Lanny Walter called it a “perfect storm,” but if that phrase conjures images of destruction and strife, you’ve got the wrong idea.
The town Democratic nominating caucus Tuesday night, July 28, at the Senior Center was a perfect storm of cooperation, mutual support and smiling satisfaction. There were no surprises. No gaveled silences. The four incumbents who will run in November — supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, Town Board members Fred Costello Jr. and Leeanne Thornton and Highway Superintendent Doug Myer — were confirmed by acclimation. Their efforts toward increasing economic development and convincing good people to join volunteer committees were praised. Aside from the two years Helsmoortel was out of office, 2012-13, he, Thornton and Costello have all been in office for more than a decade. The prevailing view of that period, at least among the Democrats, seems to be one of economic success, with village businesses doing better and Saugerties being recognized as a destination by various tourism publications. Helsmoortel and the rest of “Team Saugerties” deserves the credit, according to the Democrats.
The speeches were all positive. There wasn’t even a discouraging word about town Republicans. It was quite a different scene last month in the same room, when Conservative Chair George Heidcamp called on his caucus to make common cause with Republicans against the “radical left-wing liberal” party Walter planned to craft in his image.
If that’s the plan, it wasn’t on display Tuesday night. As in past years, none of the party’s nominees were Democrats. In fact, they are all former Republicans. Myer, the latest GOP refugee, testified to his eternal gratitude for the party rescuing him in 2013 after the Republicans snubbed him. So while it’s fair to say all the candidates have had personal issues with the opposition party, one would be hard-pressed to find anything radical in the rhetoric at the caucus.
The large turnout of roughly 250 people was attributed by some as a show of support for Helsmoortel, whose nomination two years ago was challenged by Democrats who put forth Republican Gaetana Ciarlante for the position.
“She was roundly defeated,” Walter said following Tuesday’s love fest. “I’m sure some people remember that, and that a lot of people who care came out as a result.”
Next up on the political calendar: The Republican Caucus, Thursday Aug. 6, 7 p.m., Senior Center.