Kingston Dems have primary choices

This Tuesday, Sept. 12 Kingston Democrats will cast ballots in an unusually busy party primary. Democratic candidates in three of the city’s nine wards and a single county legislative district face challenges either in a party primary or a write-in “opportunity to ballot” from opponents who, in most cases, are also running on the Republican Party line. The crowded primary ballots led Kingston Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Donaldson to accuse Republicans of fielding “weak Democrats” as Republican candidates.

“It’s very unusual,” said Donaldson. “It seems like you have a lot of people who don’t know what they want to be.”

In the city’s Eighth Ward, incumbent Alderman Steve Schabot faces two primary challengers. Cassandra Burke, a University of Albany political science student and tenant activist at the Rondout Gardens housing complex, and James Rodden, a retiree and head of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Rodden also holds the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines. His appearance on the Democratic ballot drew criticism after Donaldson and other Democrats criticized him for switching his party enrollment to Republican — a switch which won’t take effect until after this year’s election — and then running in the Democratic primary.


“Cassandra I have no problem with, she did what she was supposed to do and she was up front about it,” said Donaldson. “Jim Rodden has not been up front at all.”

The second primary on the ballot has incumbent Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert seeking to unseat county lawmaker and fellow Democrat Peter Loughran from the District Five seat he has held for two decades. Eckert, a Marist professor of political science, has aligned herself with Mayor Steve Noble’s progressive “One Kingston” agenda. Loughran has been a steady, if low-key, presence in the legislature, but has drawn fire from some on the progressive wing of his party for lining up with body’s Republican minority on some key votes. Despite that, one of the leaders of the legislature’s progressive wing, New Paltz Democrat Hector Rodriguez, along with fellow Democrat Jonathan Heppner, has endorsed his re-election campaign.

In Ward 5, incumbent and Common Council Majority Leader Bill Carey faces a write-in Opportunity to Ballot challenge for the Democratic line from Teryl Mickens. Mickens already holds the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. In Ward 7, Patrick O’Reilly, who holds the Conservative and Independence Party lines, is seeking both the Democratic and Republican Party lines via Opportunity to Ballot. His opponent in the primary is Democrat Bryant Drew Andrews. In County Legislative District 6, veteran Democratic lawmaker David Donaldson is mounting an Opportunity to Ballot challenge for the Conservative Party line against Republican and Independence party candidate Jean Jacobs.

Polls are open from noon-9 p.m. To find your polling place, visit

There are 8 comments

  1. Lynne Rodden Hoffstatter

    Mr. Donaldson needs to check his facts as he continues to misrepresent the facts!!! My father, James Rodden in-enrolled as a Democratic and NEVER enrolled as a Republican he simply was not enrolled in any party. Subsequent, he has re-enrolled as a Democratic regardless of the election outcome. STOP your gross miss representing the Truths!!!!!

  2. Jim Rodden

    Cassandra, After our conversation on Hunter St. I am waiting for you to change the false post you have on your site. We both know that Joe Donaldson lied about my being a Republican. You saw my enrollment paper I am a Democrat. Jim Rodden

  3. Susan

    This year we have three choices in the primary in the 8th Ward. Go out and vote for the person that you think that represents the best option for the waterfront area.

  4. Neil Millens

    These are the facts. Jim Rodden lied repeatedly in his interview from the 9:24 to 10:30 mark

    1) He stated that he was a Democrat and “…would continue to be a Democrat”. The truth is that he filed with the Board of Elections to unenroll from the Democratic party; something which will take effect November 15.

    2) He stated that he had reached out to the City Democrat Committee to discuss running and was denied. The facts are that he was never denied because he never asked the Kingston Democratic Committee for support. To the contrary he never spoke with the Chairman Joe Donaldson. And told a member of the Committee that he would not run if Steve Schabot was running so there was never any discussion about support. Rodden subsequently changed his mind about running, but rather than seek Democratic support and primary Steve within the party, Rodden solicited Republican support.

    3) His polices and stance on a wide range of local issues are not consistent with the Kingston Democratic Committee.

    In his interview Rodden looked the voters of Ward 8 straight in the eyes and lied deliberately. These were not mistakes – these were lies. Rodden doesn’t deserve to be either the Democratic or Republican candidate. He clearly doesn’t represent the voters, just his own interests.

    1. Susan

      The policies and stances on a wide range of issues of the Kingston Democratic Committee are not consistent with many enrolled Democrats that live in this district. This is why the current alderman, Stephen Schabot, is being challenged by the two candidates.

    2. alf c

      1. Renouncing Party membership doesn’t necessarily mean that one has abandoned the principles of the party, it merely indicates an openness to working outside the moribund structures of the Democratic Party. Consider Bernie Sanders who caucused with the Democrats in Congress, and sought the Presidential nomination while not a formal party member.
      Theres something creepily Orwellian about demanding strict, unquestioning allegiance to Party leaders. It’s something you’d find in the bad old days of Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Candidates owe loyalty first and foremost to the Citzens of the Ward, the Charter, and the City itself.

      2. If he did change his mind about contesting a primary, wasn’t it after one was announced between Burke and Shabot?

      3. Is the party establishment so terrified of dissent, so dedicated to maintaining its own grasp on power, and serving its own intrests that it condemns thinking for oneself? Maintaining an independence of mind isn’t a disqualification from nomination nor holding public office. It’s good to get different points of view. It’s good to have open debate and the exchange of ideas -that’s democracy.

  5. Chris Hagel

    It seems that Donaldson has nothing good to say about his candidate because his candidate (Schabot) has done little to nothing for Ward 8.
    Donaldson has to resort to attempting to spread lies and speak poorly of other candidates. I guess that is what happens when you can’t think of a thing to say in favor of the person you are backing.
    Joe Donaldson-you are trying very hard to make the Ward 8 election a dirty fight. Why…neither of the other candidates are sniping at Schabot? Why are you resorting to such low tactics. It is a embarrasment to the very party you represent.

  6. Neil Millens

    Rather than address Rodden’s lies, his supporters attempt to deflect with straw arguments. To be clear, there is nothing inherently with Rodden deciding to unenroll from the Democratic Party. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with him soliciting the Republican endorsement. If he wants to run, then he has every right to run. He also has every right to challenge for the Democratic nomination. The issue that I and others have with Rodden is how he went about it – that he chose to lie to Democratic voters. He lied about filing to unenroll. He also lied when he said that he reached out to the Democratic party for support and was denied because he never asked for support. This isn’t rhetoric, these are facts.

    If he hadn’t made those false statements during his recorded interview with Hillary, then he wouldn’t be a liar. At least not one to my knowledge. I would have disagreed with him on his policies, but I would not have challenged his character. But he did lie, and it is his character that he put at issue. And the Democratic voters in Ward 8 recognized this, we’re not fooled by his lies, and he did not win the Democratic line.

Comments are closed.