Woodstock GOP gets a new chairman

Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong, who’ll be chairing his first caucus as the new chair of the Woodstock Republican Committee Wednesday evening, September 16 at the Woodstock Community Center, noted this week that he was taking over the helm from longstanding GOP chair Bill West, a former chairman of the county legislature, to lend the organization a younger sensibility.

“That said, I’m only a few years younger than him,” Armstrong added with a laugh. “I’ve worked as a Republican in Saugerties for years and the first person I helped elect was Ham Fish Jr. That was a long time ago.” In fact, it was 1968.

As for what Armstrong’s planning for next week’s caucus, which West had been mum about since first noting that as usual, the town GOP would wait and see what Woodstock Democrats would be doing before acting themselves, the new chairman was just as tight-lipped as the old.

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“We’ve got Mike Reynolds running again as highway superintendent and Jackie Earley for clerk,” he said. “Beyond that we have a full slate, though for now I’m keeping the names to myself so we don’t hurt anyone come the primary this week. I’ve also heard that Jeremy (incumbent supervisor Wilber, a Democrat) may be sending someone in to nominate him.”

As for how he felt his party’s chances were for the November elections, and what issues would be paramount then and over the coming year, Armstrong was more loquacious.

“It looks like there’ll be quite the financial crush, given the new and much lower tax cap,” he said. “We’re also going to stress what we always stress, that the town board’s spending too much money on too many grandiose plans.”

Asked about specifics, Armstrong spoke about how much the town’s many employees would be costing everyone with expected insurance cost hikes, as well as how the community center renovations, while nice looking, also came in way over what was expected. “All these things are going to get together and start hurting in the future,” the new chairman added.

As for that question of youth on his committee, Armstrong said there were several new committee members already, and he was hoping to bring in more as part of his “job.”

As for West, who demurred on any comment for this story as has been his private way over the years, the new chair said the old, longstanding chairman would “have the job of holding the town board’s feet to the fire.”

Would there be any ceremony for the finally retired local political legend?

“We’ll see what happens,” Armstrong said. “It’ll be a surprise…I hope.”

He added that for now, he’s working to not make any mistakes, which has included some wrangling to get the party caucus in on time for state political deadlines…and the odd Thursday primary vote this year.

“We’ll have more to say next week, after we meet,” Armstrong added.

For anyone interested in getting involved in the Woodstock Republican Committee, he urges they email wdstkgop@yahoo.com, or come out to the caucus at the Woodstock Community Center on Rock City Road in Woodstock at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 16.