Upstart 25-year-old beats incumbent mayor in Middleburgh
3/21/12 - 4:17 pm
Above: Matthew Avitabile coordinating volunteers at the Middleburgh Municipal Offices five days after Tropical Storm Irene flooded Main Street Middleburgh in Schoharie County. Photo by Marty Rosen for the Watershed Post.
A 25-year-old who earned his community's trust during Tropical Storm Irene ousted the sitting mayor in the Village of Middleburgh last night in one of the most heated races of the Catskills village election season.
After last fall's flood, Matthew Avitabile -- then a village trustee -- coordinated a massive volunteer effort to help his neighbors rebuild. For ten days, he was a fixture at the village offices, dispensing help and advice to anyone who needed it. One night, he slept there.
When a correspondent for the Watershed Post visited the Middlebugh village office five days after after the flood, Avitabile was the village official she encountered.
Now the village of Middleburgh has expressed its gratitude. According to the Middleburgh village clerk's officeAvitabile received 193 votes, while his opponent, the incumbent mayor William Ansel-McCabe, got 169. (A third candidate, Thomas Wargo, got two votes, according to the Daily Star and the Schoharie Times-Journal.)
"I’m honored for this chance to serve the community, especially in these tough times," Avitabile said today. "I appreciate the confidence in the future of Middleburgh."
The race was a tough one. Avitabile was angling to become what he believes is the youngest mayor in village history, a hard sell against a seasoned incumbent.
On top of his youth, Avitabile had to contend with a scandal involving the village fire chief, a drama that divided the town into Avitabile supporters and McCabe supporters.
According to the Times-Journal, Middleburgh Village Fire Chief Brian Devlin was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and for speeding last July. Three months later, Devlin allegedly got into a drunken brawl at a party at the village firehouse.
In November, Avitabile voted with two other board members to respond to Devlin's alleged fisticuffs with a one-month suspension. That didn't go over well at the fire department. At a heated village meeting in December, 25 firefighters protested Devlin's suspension, and one threatened Avitabile, according to the Times-Journal. (In a small-town twist, the Times-Journal reporter who covered the story is Matthew Avitabile's father.)
The scandal died down after the holidays, but incumbent mayor McCabe, who voted against suspending Devlin, later enjoyed the support of many of Middleburgh's firefighters during his mayoral campaign. (There is still some anti-Avitabile sentiment on the Middleburgh Fire Department's Facebook page.)
To win an election against an incumbent after publicly taking on the village fire chief is no mean feat -- for a 25-year-old, it's even more impressive. It looks like Mr. Avitabile has a mandate in Middleburgh.
Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Middleburgh Fire Chief Brian Devlin was driving a village-owned vehicle when he was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and for speeding. In fact, he was not driving a village-owned vehicle at the time of his arrest. Also, a previous version of this story stated that Avibatile's reported that he got 197 votes. He actually got 193.
|Eight Track Shindig for Film Festival|
|SPRING IS ARRIVING AT THE BLUE BARN|
|Lyon Mountain Blue Barn Antiques & Collectibles Highest Quality -- Best Prices|
|Lyon Mountain Blue Barn Antiques and Collectibles Highest Quality - Best Prices|
|COMMERCIAL PROPERTY FOR SALE OR RENT|
|Come join our largest street fair of the season on Saturday May 24th|
|Used kayak sale this weekend|
|Product Protection Plans are now available at The Catalog Outlet!|
|New Reclining Living Room Collection Sale Priced, Only While Supplies Last!|
|Wednesday Night’s Show: Catskills Trees with Gary Mead – Eastern Hemlock|
|Wednesday Night’s Show: Hoppy Quick – Catskill Mountain Woodsman|
|Wednesday Night’s Show: Golden Eagle Project|
|Senior-ize or Sell - Informative Seminar|
|Could it be Spring is officially in the air?|
|Easter Made-Easy with Cheesequick!|
|The 'Wedding Dresser' In Detail|
|Penthouse Roof Garden, Great Jones Place, NYC|
|A Home In Jeffersonville, NY Part 3: It Begins With The Drawings.|
|RELAY FOR LIFE BINGO NIGHT AT THE ANDES HOTEL APRIL 19th|
|One of the Nation’s First “Autism-Friendly” Emergency Departments Provides Customized, Compassionate Care|
|HealthAlliance Takes Strides to Engage the Community|
|Don't Stress The Commute...|
|Turn Key Commercial Building|
|Your Peaceful Country Getaway, Just Two Hours from the Tappan Zee!|
|The Fish are Biting in the Great Western Catskills|
|Win $10,000 Cash at the Delaware County Chamber’s 15th Annual Golf Tournament|
|Andes..."Land in the Sky"|
|Erik and Fernando find their Dream Home!|
|Looking for a gathering place?|
|Soup stylin' with the Fleischmanns!|
|Cabins with Quarter-Mile of Esopus Frontage!|
|Lovely Home in Greene NY!|
|Easter lambs for sale|
|DOORWAYS OF SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE|