Friday, November 11, 2011

Elections &

Last Tuesday, 7963 GreeneLanders took part actively in a uniquely American exercise.  They voted in popular elections that would determine not only who would be their town-level law-makers, but also who would occupy a rich variety of extra-legislative public offices: State Supreme Court judge, district attorney, county clerk, county coroner (!), town judge, town clerk, town tax collector and town highway superintendent.
Prior to last Tuesday, moreover, 891 GreeneLanders applied to the county elections commission for absentee ballots covering all those offices, and about 700 of them actually posted those ballots (still to be counted, and potentially decisive in a couple of races).
Those voters comprised a fraction of the eligible population.  Registered to vote in GreeneLand, and classed as “active,” are 28,542 names.  In addition, 2702 names are listed as “inactive” voters (persons who are registered but failed to vote on previous occasions).   On this showing, about one out of four eligible GreeneLanders actually took part in the elections. 
Their participation, however, was uneven.  Incomplete.  Selective?  Ballots in which a vote was cast at every opportunity occasion may have been the exception rather than the norm.  Many of the voters chose, with regard to lots of office-filling exercises, to be non-voters.  And they did so for eminently cogent reasons: felt ignorance regarding the candidates; consciousness of the stupidity of filling such offices as clerk and coroner by popular election; and awareness of the futility of voting when—as was so often the case—there is only one listed candidate.
Anyhow, among the most remarkable results of Tuesday’s elections--apart from the crazy dollar cost, per vote, of  the exercise--were these:
*An incumbent town supervisor was out-polled by a political rookie.  That happened in Cairo, where John Coyne (Republican) lost to Ted Banta (Democrat) by a margin of 823 to 628.  And at the same time, the two incumbents who sought re-election to the town council went down to defeat.   One of them, Richard Lorenz, was an endorsed Democrat.  The other, Janet Schwartzenneger, a registered Republican, ran on the Independence and Reform Cairo party lines, after failing to win local Republican Party endorsement.  They were out-polled by Dan Joyce and Tony Puorro, the official Republican candidates.  But another incumbent office-holder who had been dumped by local Republicans—Tara Rumph, town clerk, listed on the Conservative and Reform Cairo party lines--won re-election.
*A write-in candidate won an office.  That was in flood-ravaged Prattsville, where the incumbent town supervisor, Kory O’Hara, received 140 votes while Alan Huggins, a former supervisor, received 155—all by painstaking write-ins at the bottom of the ballot.
(Here and elsewhere, we are citing figures published in the Press and posted at
Other candidates who waged active write-in campaigns were unsuccessful. Specifically, in New Baltimore’s contest for two town council seats, Christine Walsh garnered 244 write-in votes but that put her far down in fourth place, with victorious incumbents Chris Norris and Lisa Benway reaping 636 and 588 votes.  Similarly, Gary Maher’s 208 write-in votes for highway superintendent for New Baltimore fell short of incumbent Denis Jordan’s 751 regular votes. 
Also, in Athens, Ray Brooks, former county legislator and avid Republican, mounted a late-stage challenge to incumbent town supervisor (and Democrat) Leallen Palmateer, but was swamped by 356 votes to 91.
(The Brooks effort was the closest thing to electoral contestation that occurred in Athens.  That fact evidently inspired a Daily Freeman scrivener to opine (11/10) in connection with the multi-office elections, that “The outcome…were [sic] largely not surprising….”)
THE WEEKEND.  Main GreeneLand attractions:
   *Chilly Willy Winter’s Eve tours, with early local history recalled, at Greene County Historical Society’s Bronck Museum in Coxsackie.  Costumed guides, Dutch and Swedish treats, recollections of life here going back to the late 1600s.  Saturday and Sunday, at two-hour intervals from 11am.
   *Group art show & sale (works of 16 artists) opening, from 5pm Saturday, upstairs at Ruby’s Hotel in Freehold.  634-7790
   *Festival of Trees, the Fortnightly Club’s annual, lavish display and sale of Christmas decorations plus Santa Claus plus munchies.  At Anthony’s banquet hall, Leeds, Saturday and Sunday, following opening gala (reservations) on Friday at Elks Lodge. 
    *Rip (Van Winkle) awards and sale.  Carved, dressed figures designed for the summer promotion in Hunter go up for auction on Saturday (viewing from 4pm, auction from 6pm) at Windham Mountain. 

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