In November, all nine Kingston Common Council seats will go up for grabs, along with the city’s three seats on the county legislature. Democratic primaries for one legislative seat and single council seat will take place on Sept. 12.
The upcoming election features an unusually robust Republican slate in a city where Democrats have long dominated. Currently, the GOP holds just one of the nine council seats and none of the three legislative districts. In recent years the Kingston Republican Committee has struggled to field competitive candidates, or in many cases, any candidates at all for some spots in city government.
On the county legislature, one of the most closely watched races will be in District 7 where one-term incumbent Democrat Jennifer Schwartz Berky faces a challenge from Democrat-turned-Republican Brian Woltman. Berky, an independent urban planning consultant, has been a leading voice for the progressive wing of the legislature’s Democratic caucus and has pushed for anti-transgender discrimination laws and beefed up Human Rights Commission. Woltman is a career civil servant who currently handles purchasing and contracts for the City of Kingston. He was a onetime campaign treasurer for former Kingston mayor Shayne Gallo. Two years ago, Gallo was pushed out after a single term in a divisive Democratic primary against a coalition of progressive Democrats supported by Berky and led by current mayor Steve Noble.
Another progressive newcomer, Lynn Eckert, will take on veteran county Legislator Peter Loughran in a Democratic primary in District 5. Eckert was part of Noble’s “One Kingston” coalition and won election to the Common Council representing the city’s First Ward in 2015. There is no Republican in the District 5 race.
In legislative District 6, former Kingston school board trustee and frequent candidate and Jean Jacobs will on the GOP line challenge longtime Democratic incumbent and former legislature chairman Dave Donaldson.
Ellen DiFalco’s running
The race for Kingston’s council seats also features a proxy rematch of sorts of the 2015’s Gallo-Noble clash. In Ward 3, incumbent Reynolds Scott-Childress holds the Democratic and Working Families lines. He faces a challenge from Ellen DiFalco on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. Scott-Childress was appointed to his seat by Noble last year, after Noble ally and former Third Ward Alderman Brad Will stepped down after being sanctioned by the city’s ethics board for working on behalf of clients seeking permits and approval from city commissions. Since then, Scott-Childress has been a reliable “yes” vote on Noble’s initiatives. DiFalco, meanwhile, served as Gallo’s confidential secretary. In recent years she has been a fierce defender of the former mayor’s legacy and a vocal critic of the Noble administration.
In Ward 1, political newcomer Jeffrey Ventura Morell will run on the Democratic and Working Families line against Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate Michael T. Russell for the seat being vacated by Eckert.
In Ward 2, incumbent and One Kingston candidate Douglas Koop is looking at a free ride to a second term after Republicans failed to field a candidate for the Uptown seat. Democratic newcomer Rita Worthington also is also looking at an unopposed run for the Fourth Ward seat being vacated by incumbent Democrat Nina Dawson, who is not seeking reelection. Republicans have also conceded the Sixth Ward seat occupied by Tony Davis. In 2015, Davis was appointed by Gallo to fill a vacancy on the council. He won a full two-year term later that year.
In Ward 5, Council Majority Leader Bill Carey holds the Democratic Party line. He faces a challenge from Teryl Mickens, who holds the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.
In Ward 7, incumbent Democrat Maryann Mills is not seeking re-election. Mills was a Gallo ally and, along with Dawson and council Minority Leader Deborah Brown (R-Ward 9) formed a core of opposition to aspects of Noble’s agenda. Political newcomers Bryant Drew Andrews running on the Democratic and Working Families lines will face Patrick O’Reilly on the Conservative and Independence lines for the open seat.
Ward 8 features an unusual three-way Democratic primary. Three-term incumbent Steve Schabot is being challenged for the party line by Cassandra Burke and James Rodden. Rodden also holds the Conservative and Republican lines while Schabot holds the Working Families line.
In Ward 9 Brown, the council’s sole Republican, faces a challenge from Andrea Shaut.