Well, we finally have some electoral action. After Ken Panza’s bid for one of the Democratic nominations for town board fell short (including absentee ballots) and the Dems picked Jay Wenk and Laura Ricci instead, Ken was given a Republican nomination. Since Republicans have fallen into a deep minority in town, it has been their cagey practice to await the Democratic outcome and usually pick off a candidate or two who has been spurned by the majority party. That gives the GOP a chance to have a candidate with their solid support and the opportunity to pick up that candidate’s Democratic supporters, too, perhaps evening out the playing field.
This strategy worked several years ago when Democrats spurned their own town supervisor, Jeff Moran, in favor of Liz Simonson in the primary. But Moran, on the Republican line, and one of his own creation, if memory serves, went on to win handily.
In a year when the turnout for the Democratic primary was abysmal, perhaps due to a lack of political heat and/or the fact that the primary was uncharacteristically held on a Thursday, picking off a spurned Democrat could prove sound strategy for the GOP.
In Woodstock, there were 315 ballots cast in the September 10 town board primary, a sorry number. On September 3, there were 489 votes cast for the Library Budget.
Given that such a small sample was taken in the town board primary, you’d have to give Ken Panza a chance of climbing up into the top two in the general election with across the board support. Could he have some coattails to pull along his now running-mate on the GOP ticket, Janine Mower, who is a more traditional Republican? Or will Woodstockers go out and vote straight Democratic, with a larger turnout? In any case, the race should be interesting.
And there’ll be no free ride for supervisor Jeremy Wilber this year, as Republicans have nominated Nancy Schauffler, who will make a first run for office. She’s an unknown quantity publicly, beyond her activism in issues such as RUPCO’s housing and her zoning dispute with the town over permits issued to Cucina. Should make for some lively debating.
In Shandaken and Olive, there are no supervisor contests, with Rob Stanley and Sylvia Rozzelle dominating the tops of the tickets. For the town board, Olive Democrats nominated Drew Boggess and Bill Melvin to run against incumbent Republicans Donald Van Buren and Peter Friedel. Olive will also have a town justice race between Democrat Tanya Davis, and Republican John Kurz.
Over in Shandaken, Republicans chose two former Woodstockers, Donald Brewer and Russell Roefs to run for town board against Democrats Gael Alba and Peter DiSclafani. It’s a rare case when neither town board seat up for election has an incumbent, but that is the case here. DiSclafani served a term as town supervisor, and Roefs did a couple as a county legislator.
And in a rematch, former Woodstock Town Supervisor Tracey Kellogg, a Democrat, will vie with long-time Republican incumbent Gary Bellows.
So we’re glad to have some contests because they allow us to hear about the issues affecting the community and what the people who step forward have to say about them.
Let’s remember, though, that these are difficult jobs, compensation is light, and service to the community is paramount.