According to unofficial results Tuesday night, Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. fended off a challenge from Councilman Paul Andreassen to win another two-year term, while incumbent Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton won re-election and newcomer Mike Ivino took a seat on the town board.
In an evening dominated by glitches and uncertainty with the county Board of Elections results website, which ended abruptly with a medical emergency shutting down the vote-counting until Wednesday morning, the numbers, while always unofficial on election night may be this year even more subject to revision.
But as of the opening minutes of Wednesday morning, Costello, who ran on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines, got 3,352 votes. Andreassen, a town councilman running on the Republican, Conservative and Libertarian lines, got 2,603.
“I feel lucky, I feel blessed by my family, my friends, blessed to represent the community that we love together,” said Costello.
“I have no regrets. It wasn’t by a big margin,” said Andreassen. “I’m still going to be on the board. This isn’t my first battle, and it’s not my last.”
Andreassen said just as he tells students who turn in their exams hindmost when he teaches fire code and inspection classes, “someone has to come in last.” He added that he would continue as a councilman to advocate for the platform he ran on for supervisor.
“I’ll still follow through with the things that I campaigned for as supervisor,” he told a small group of friends, fellow Republican-endorsed candidates and family. “I want to thank everyone for everything you’ve done for a great run. I will not be silent. I will not be pushed around. We’ll put some legislation on the board that we can debate about, and if they’re uncomfortable with it, they can answer to you.”
The board in 2020 looks to be 3-2 Democrat — Costello, John Schoonmaker (provided he doesn’t score a long-shot comeback win on absentee ballots in his county legislature race) and Thornton on the Democratic side and Andreassen and Ivino on the Republican side.
“I will work with the town board and I expect the board to work with me. If they don’t, I will push every button to make that happen,” Andreassen added in a later interview. “I will not be a wallflower, and I won’t be a back-bencher like they have in Parliament. I have ideas and I expect to be listened to.”
Winning candidates Costello and Thornton mirrored the sentiment, insisting that they would work together cohesively regardless of Andreassen’s campaign.
“There’s only five of us, there’s 20,000 people in the community,” said Costello. “Those 20,000 people would want us to be productive. We’ll work to reach a consensus.”
Celebrating at Sue’s
Just before 11 p.m., when it was apparent that he had racked up a heady lead over Andreassen, Costello addressed a raucous crowd of over 50 at Sue’s, his family’s restaurant.
“So, this afternoon I’ve been trying to control my anxiety, and I was trying to figure out what I would say if I win, or if I lose, and I realized it was the same thing. I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet,” he said, voice wavering. “I have friends that I’ve known since we were kids that stand by me through thick and thin, that have a confidence that I don’t understand but it gives me the confidence to move forward. Thank you all.”
Thornton gets the most
In the town board race, where three candidates competed for two four-year terms, Thornton (Democratic, Working Families, Independence) led the pack with 4,042 votes. Ivino (Republican, Independence and Libertarian) tallied 3,134 while Nicole Roskos (Democratic, Working Families Party, Green) finished out of the running with 2,681.
“I no longer have a headache that I had yesterday,” said Thornton. “I’m just thrilled that the community supported our initiatives that we supported for the last two years. I look forward to continuing to work with John [Schoonmaker] and with Mike [Ivino] as a new board member. I’m looking forward to moving forward in 2020 as a new team.”
“There’s a lot of policy that I want to put forward,” Ivino said. “One is going to be term limits, another is going to be a nepotism policy and we’re going to dig through our budget like no one has dug before.”
Roskos said that although she did not win a seat on the town board, she would refocus her efforts in Saugerties’ Climate Smart Committee.
“I’m not opposed to running again,” she said. “It was a good learning experience. He was a tough opponent — he has a bigger history here and I know that’s important in Saugerties.”
The county condition
Both of Saugerties’ county legislature races may not be decided until absentee ballots are counted. In District 1, incumbent Mary Wawro (Republican, Independence, Conservative) held a slim 1,311-1,274 lead over challenger Aaron Levine (Democratic, Working Families, Green). Currently, the Board of Elections stated, there are 91 absentee ballots to be counted in the District 1 race, 46 of which were sent in by registered Democrats, 22 by Republicans, two by Conservatives, six by Independence Party members and 15 by unaffiliated voters. To erase Wawro’s 37 vote lead, Levine would need to tally 64 of the 91 absentee ballots. More may come in to the board of elections, provided they were postmarked November 4 at the latest. Absentee ballots will begin being counted on November 18.
In District 2’s three-way race, Al Bruno (Republican, Conservative) was in the lead with 1,001 votes. John Schoonmaker (Democrat), a sitting town councilman, trailed with 952 votes and former legislator Chris Allen (Working Families, Independence) collected 450. According to the county Board of Elections, 154 absentee ballots were collected for this race; 54 from Democrats, 61 from Republicans and 18 from unaffiliated voters.
Bruno was emotional upon seeing his lead when the last results of the night became available — he frantically tried to call Schoonmaker to congratulate on the race, only to realize that his call wasn’t going through because Schoonmaker was simultaneously trying to call him. On good terms, Bruno and Schoonmaker ran a markedly friendly race, posing together for photos at fundraising events and putting in a joint donation at a fundraiser for Diaz Ambulance earlier this year. Early on, Thornton recalled, the pair resolved at a town board meeting that the losing party would buy a cocktail at Sue’s for the winner.
“I’m so stunned. Pleasantly surprised, not stunned…I couldn’t have run against a better candidate,” said Bruno, visibly floored. “I hope to still have him as a friend…either way, Saugerties wins. He’s still on the town board, he can still work his magic there. He’s going places. This isn’t his first stop, he worked hard, we all did. I’m very happy that I ran and I will work hard for this district. I’m also a very honest and pragmatic person and to be honest, Chris Allen was the one who decided this race. I wish it was a different situation. If both of us [Bruno and Schoonmaker] could be the legislator at the same time, it would be interesting…This is how all races should be.”
Schoonmaker, accompanied by his mother and brother at Sue’s, felt similarly.
“We didn’t run against each other, we ran with each other for the same seat,” he said. “I know I was hoping for the win…With the lines that [Bruno] had, it’s a big feat. It’s not a complete loss for me, I have town board…we’ve got a board meeting tomorrow. I’m jumping right back into it. We’ve got a public hearing on the budget, there’s no time to take a rest. I’m going to keep doing the good work that I’m doing with the same zeal I did before.”
While Schoonmaker had a small team through the Democrats’ coordinated campaign to help make calls, place campaign signs and knock on doors, Bruno did it on his own with the help of his wife.
“She’s apolitical,” said Bruno of Lisa. “She doesn’t like the mess of politics, and I dragged her through this with me. She was my campaign manager and my greatest supporter, and she still is.”
Levine appeared frazzled after results became available — perplexed as anyone by the confusion around whether early votes were counted caused by glitches with the Board of Elections website.
“I’m eager to find a conclusion, to know one way or another,” he said. “I’m looking forward to weighing the absentee ballot count, and we’ll let the votes speak for themselves.”
Wawro watched the results come in from home, then visited her ex-legislator father Bill Geick. She said that he was clad in his Mary Wawro T-shirt. She was en route to an informational meeting on the county’s 2020 proposed budget when she was reached for comment on Nov. 6.
“You never know how it’s going to go, you don’t want to assume,” said Wawro when asked whether she thought her lead would hold steady when absentee ballots are counted beginning Nov. 18. “I really feel fortunate in this district — anybody who’s run in this district said I ran a good campaign and it’s very cordial…At the end of the day we’re there to serve our district and no one gets anywhere by being combative.”