And so it’s come to this: the final days of one of the longest and certainly the most contentious presidential contest in decades. As always, local government has been plugging along in parallel to the national dramatics. Let’s take a final look at what we’ve got in store locally on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3.
It’s local government that has always been the core of the American experience. Unlike other societies, which used local agencies mainly to gather taxes for the central government, the United States was created from the bottom up, The genius of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville argued in the 1830s,was in its pattern of local engagement.
“Local assemblies of citizens constitute the strength of free nations,” de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America. “Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free government, but without the spirit of municipal institutions it cannot have the spirit of liberty.”
At the top this year, there’s hardly any breath left to talk about the presidential contest. President Donald Trump is running against former vice-president Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee. There’s no going back now. An exhausted public will cast its ballots, and we’ll see who’s still standing.
19th Congressional District
New York’s 19th Congressional District stretches from Poughkeepsie clear up to Oneonta, including swaths of the territories once represented by Maurice Hinchey and Kirsten Gillibrand (when she was in the House). In its current configuration, it is one of the few congressional districts in the nation insufficiently gerrymandered to ensure victory to one of the two major political parties.
First-term representative Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, won a narrow victory against then-incumbent John Faso as part of the blue wave in 2018. The district went for Donald Trump by six points in 2016. This November, Delgado faces Republican Kyle Van de Water as a challenger, along with third-party candidates Steve Greenfield (Green) and Victoria Alexander (Libertarian).
Delgado has accumulated a large election war chest, Van de Water, who won a primary struggle for the nomination largely because of GOP organizational support, is less well-funded. Any chance of victory may depend on whether his campaign gets strong financial support from national sources. There are a lot of supplicants for that support. Van de Water’s political posters say only “Kyle,” mentioning neither his political affiliation nor his last name.
Delgado won his close race against incumbent John Faso in 2018 on the basis of his pluralities at the eastern end of the sprawling district, particularly in Ulster County. By emphasizing his record of frequent town-hall meetings and strong constituent service, he hopes to improve on his election numbers in a presidential-election year when Donald Trump’s job performance may be the major issue.
Delgado portrays himself as a political moderate devoted to constituent service. But like presidential candidate Joe Biden, he is attracting criticism for being a prisoner of the far-left wing of his party.
Kyle Van de Water, the Republican candidate, is an attorney and military veteran who lives in Millbrook, where he served as a village trustee in 2017 and 2018. In a June interview, Van de Water cited state legislation such as last year’s bail reform and “endless investigations into the president of the United States that were baseless” as inspiration to run. Van de Water has eleven-year-old triplets as well as a five-year-old child.
Van de Water’s platform includes building the wall along the Mexican border while also streamlining the process of legal immigration. The candidate is a gun-rights advocate who believes the Second Amendment “is there to tell the government that everybody has individual rights.” He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He believes tax incentives should be used to bring business to the district, and that infrastructure is a priority that has been stymied by generalized opposition to the president. He advocates for a strong military.
State Senate District 42
First-term state senator Jennifer Metzger is running for reelection to 42nd Senatorial District. She will be on the Democratic, Working Families and SAM (Serve America Movement) party lines. The Rosendale resident is being opposed by entrepreneur and political neophyte Michael Robert Martucci, an Orange County resident who will appear on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines.
Both candidates have the support of those who usually lend their allegiance to the candidates of the major parties. Metzger has received the endorsements of a long list of trade unions. Other organizations endorsing her candidacy include environmental and civic organizations.
Martucci has received the endorsements of a long list of law-enforcement associations. He also has support from some small-business groups.
The district was long represented by moderate Republican John Bonacic. In 2018 Metzger won the seat against a strong Orange County Republican, Annie Rabbitt, by a relatively narrow 3700 votes with over 100,000 ballots cast.
The sprawling senatorial district, whose greatest single part in terms of population is in western and southern Orange County, now contains about 37.6 percent enrolled Democrats and 29.7 percent Republicans. Donald Trump carried it by five points in 2016, and Barack Obama by eight points in 2012
The Democrat’s deeply involved in energy, climate, agricultural and environmental issues. She’s the policy wonk with the advantages of incumbency. In this political season, she announces awards of state money to her constituents almost daily.
The Republican’s a self-made millionaire and philanthropist who founded a large school-bus-contract company. He’s not a politician, he says, he’s a businessman, a father, a husband and a farmer.
Senate District 46
With the retirement of incumbent Republican George Amedore, State Senate District 46, which stretches from northern Ulster County to the Capital Region, is up for grabs. Democrats, who already have an enrollment edge, are hoping 32-year-old Michelle Hinchey, daughter of the late U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, can turn the district blue. She supports a slate of progressive legislation, including expanded healthcare, marijuana legalization, and new taxes on the wealthy.
On the GOP side, retired state trooper Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville hopes to hold the line. On his website, Amedure pledges to advocate for small businesses and family farms, and criticizes the state’s bail-reform and discovery-reform laws as “devastating” to the district’s communities and to law enforcement.” We were unable to reach Amedure despite two-and-a-half weeks of efforts.
Robert Alft, Jr. is on the ballot as the Green Party candidate, and Gary Greenberg has announced a write-in candidacy for the Democratic line.
103rd District Assembly
State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Kingston is running again for the 103rd District Assembly seat. Cahill has touted the many state grants he helped secured for various local projects and legislation he has sponsored such as the Statewide Emergency Tenant Protection Act. He has served as chair of Assembly Insurance Committee on Insurance since 2013.
His opponent, Rex Bridges, a Navy veteran of Rhinebeck, holds the Conservative line on the ballot. The 103rd Assembly District comprises the city of Kingston, most of Ulster County and a couple of towns in Dutchess County.
Woodstock Library funding proposal
Woodstock residents are being asked to vote on whether their public library can borrow $5.8 million to replace the current building at 5 Library Lane with a two-story, 12,500-square-foot structure. The new building would increase storage, display and meeting space and allow for upgraded technology. Library officials say the current structure is inadequate to provide the programming the community wants and needs. The building also has mold, ventilation and other health and safety issues.
Non-construction costs including furniture, security, communication equipment, moving and relocation to a temporary library add up to just over a million dollars, which the library trustees hopes will come from fundraising.
Opponents say it is irresponsible to ask the voters to borrow millions of dollars amid the economic uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. A group called the Library Alliance favors an addition and renovation instead of a new building.
Community Preservation Fund for New Paltz
The Town of New Paltz has developed a community preservation plan to update and integrate the community’s open space and historic preservation plans. The new plan will draw on the data and documents the town has developed on natural resources, agricultural and historic properties. There is an open-space protection referendum on the back of the November 2020 ballot for New Paltz residents.
Here’s how the proposed new Local Law No. 1 would work: When a buyer purchases a home or piece of property, he or she would be required to pay a one-time 1.5 percent real-estate fee, to be put into a community land preservation fund. This fee does not kick in unless the home or property costs more than $245,000: the median cost of homes in Ulster County. And it does not represent a percentage of the entire purchase price, but of the amount exceeding $245,000. There is a $245,000 exemption to help protect first-time homebuyers or those coming in on the lower end of the housing market. This plan does not impact tax dollars.
The name of Rhett Weires will also appear on the New Paltz ballot. He is running unopposed for election as New Paltz town judge. He has already served as a town justice since August 2019, but will be running for his first term as an elected judge this November on the Democratic ticket. A local attorney and a father of four, Weires is running unopposed for a four-year term as one of two New Paltz town justices, with the other being veteran judge James Bacon.
Andreassen versus O’Dell in Saugerties
Seeking a third full term as one of two Saugerties town justices, Claudia Andreassen is being challenged on the November 3 ballot by Stan O’Dell, who is seeking his first elective office. Both candidates are registered Democrats. Their names will appear on five different lines.
Having easily won her party’s primary, Andreassen is the endorsed Democrat, and is also running on the Green Party line. O’Dell will appear on the Independence Party and Working Family Party lines, as well as the SAM party line, based on a petition. A write-in candidate, Jay Carr, will appear on the Libertarian line.
Both Andreassen and O’Dell have legal backgrounds, though neither is a lawyer.
Carrie Wykoff unopposed in Rosendale
In the sole local race up for a vote in the Town of Rosendale on Election Day 2020, Democrat Carrie Wykoff is running unopposed for a seat on the town board. She is already the interim appointee to the seat recently vacated by John Hughes. This election is to fill out the remaining year of Hughes’ term.
Early voting in Ulster County
Early voting in New York State will take place from October 24 to November 1 In Ulster County, the early voting polling places are as follows: Woodstock Community Center, 56 Rock City Rd., Woodstock; Midtown Neighborhood Center, 467 Broadway, Kingston; New Paltz Community Center, 3 Veterans Dr., New Paltz; Highland American Legion, 84 Grand St., Highland; Ellenville Public Library Community Room, 40 Center Street, Ellenville.
Hours at each are: Wednesday, October 28: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, October 29: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, October 30: 9 a.m.to 5 p.m.; Saturday, October 31: 10 a.m.to 3 p.m.; Sunday, November 1: 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. Registered voters may use any early voting location. All but the Highland American Legion sit along UCAT bus routes for those without public transportation.
In New York, absentee ballots must be postmarked November 3, Election Day. As long as it shows up in the mail by November 4, it will be counted.
Absentee ballots can be returned to the Ulster County Board of Elections office at 284 Wall Street in Kingston, Monday through Friday from nine to five, at any of the five early-voting sites or on November 3 (Election Day) at any of the 83 polling sites. The polls will be open until 9 p.m. on Election Day for those that prefer to vote in person.
Ulster County has taken steps to ensure the safety of voters and poll inspectors that serve the public that includes training, social distancing, and personal protective equipment. Early voting allows for shorter wait times and lines during the nine days of early voting, and also on Election Day. Additional steps concerning safety at the polls are being taken.
“I strongly urge eligible voters to take advantage of early voting,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in a statement last week. “Given the challenges of Covid-19, voting early is a safe and reliable way to ensure all voters can participate in this election.”
Voters concerned about exposure to Covid-19 should select “temporary illness or physical disability” as the reason for requesting the absentee ballot. Completed absentee ballot application must be returned to the board of elections as soon as possible. Go to VoteUlster.com for election-related updates.
For additional information about local candidates and ballot proposals, visit hudsonvalleyone.com.