Kingston candidates start declaring for Common Council

City Hall’s Common Council Chambers. (Photo by Will Dendis)

Election season is shaping up in Kingston, with nine Common Council seats and three seats in the county legislature on the line. With party conventions coming up next month, six incumbent council members said this week that they plan to stand for re-election. (Three others did not respond to emails asking about their plans.) Meanwhile, a Democratic primary is shaping up in Ward 8 where political newcomer Cassandra Burke said she plans to challenge two-term incumbent Steve Schabot for the party’s nomination.

Among those who said they would seek another two-year term are three staunch allies of Mayor Steve Noble. Lynn Eckert (D-Ward 1) and Douglas Koop (D-Ward 2) ran on Noble “One Kingston” ticket in 2015 and have proved loyal allies since taking office. A third, Rennie Scott-Childress (D-Ward 3), was appointed to his post by Noble following the resignation of One Kingston candidate Brad Will following a censure by the city’s ethics board. Together, the three have been the most vocal defenders of Noble’s progressive, environmentally minded governing style. They also provided unwavering support during some of the most controversial issues on Noble’s first term, including efforts to block a proposed indoor shooting range in Midtown and a memorializing resolution to declare Kingston a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants. Eckert and Scott-Childress said they planned to seek another term on the council. Koop said that he “stood ready” to serve another term but would await the outcome of the upcoming Democratic convention.

Steve Schabot. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Nina Dawson (D-Ward 4) also said she would seek a third term on the Common Council. Dawson, who ran with backing from former mayor Shayne Gallo has been a skeptical voice on the council regarding many of Noble’s proposals. Dawson, Maryann Mills (D-Ward 7) and Deborah Brown (R-Ward 9), have formed the opposition in a number of 6-3 votes on Noble’s initiatives. Mills and Brown, the council’s sole Republican, did not respond to emails seeking comment on their re-election plans, nor did council Majority Leader Bill Carey (D-Ward 5). Tony Davis (D-Ward 6) who was appointed by Gallo to fill a vacancy in 2015 and went on to win a full term later that year, also said he would seek re-election.

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In Ward 8, Schabot’s announcement that he would seek another term representing Ponckhockie and the Rondout sets up a potential Democratic primary in the ward. Schabot, a longtime head of the city’s volunteer parks and recreation committee, has been a relatively quiet presence on the council since winning election in 2013. He will face a challenge from Burke, a 32-year-old student of public administration at SUNY Albany. Burke serves on the city’s volunteer community development advisory committee. She’s also a co-founder of the Rondout Gardens Tenants Association and has been an advocate for residents of the Kingston Housing Authority complex.

Cassandra Burke

Democrats have had a virtual lock on all aspects of city government in recent years. Brown is currently the only Republican on the Common Council while Democrats hold all three Kingston seats in the county legislature. With a widening party enrollment disadvantage compared to Democrats and an undermanned city committee, Kingston Republicans have struggled to field competitive candidates, or even a full slate in the past few elections. Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Ingarra was unavailable for comment regarding the party’s plans for the upcoming elections.