Today--Thursday, Sept. 10--is primary election day in New York, and voters who are registered with political parties across the Catskills can go to the polls to vote for town and county candidates running in primary races from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Usually, primary day is a Tuesday, but the late Labor Day holiday this year has pushed it back to a Thursday, which will likely have an impact on voter turnout.
New York State has a closed-primary system, meaning that to vote in a primary at any level of government in New York State, voters must be registered members of the party holding the primary.
The winners of today’s primaries will appear on the ballot in the general election in November. But due to multiple political parties supporting a single candidate, candidates who lose their party's primary may still appear on the November ballot on a different line.
Not every town and legislative district has a primary race today. No towns in Schoharie County have primaries this year, for example. Here’s a look at the hot primary races in the Catskills.
In Delaware County, Gary Rosa and Porter Kirkwood will face off in Conservative and Independence primaries in a heated race for the new position of Family Court Judge.
This past week, their race has gotten ugly, with accusations flying between the candidates about ethics violations.
Rosa has used a campaign slogan criticizing Kirkwood of “representing just one client, the county’s Department of Social Services,” in his appearances in Family Court.
In a Sept. 5 mailing to registered Independence voters, the Kirkwood campaign fired back, stating that Rosa's slogan contained “outright lies.”
Bijoy Datta, a Binghamton-based political consultant who is managing Kirkwood’s campaign, also sent a letter to the Rosa campaign demanding a public retraction of the statement. Bill Birns, Rosa’s campaign manager, responded with a letter of his own accusing Kirkwood of violating campaign ethics rules.
Today is only a warmup for both candidates, who will appear on the November ballot regardless of who wins which primary.
In Harpersfield, Jim Eisel, the long-serving chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, faces his first-ever primary opponent in the town’s Republican primary. Eisel, the most powerful politician in the county, is being challenged by former town board member Ed “Rusty” Pick, who has also been endorsed by the Democratic party, according to the Daily Star. Pick is calling for change and greater transparency in municipal government. Eisel recently weathered several withering audits from the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
In Middletown, the incumbent supervisor Marge Miller squares off with her town’s code enforcement officer, Carl Patrick Davis, in the Democratic primary. The race has been tense--Miller has accused of Davis of misconduct regarding mileage reimbursement requests, while Davis says that investigations into his behavior have found nothing wrong, according to the Catskill Mountain News. Both candidates have also filed as Independents, which means that both will appear on the ballot in the general election no matter who wins today.
In Walton, the incumbent supervisor, Bruce Dolph, is fending off a challenge in the Republican primary from village trustee Charles Gregory. Dolph, who is Delaware County’s budget director, is catching fire from Gregory for putting the needs of Delaware County over the needs of the town of Walton. “What’s good for the county is not necessarily good for Walton,” Gregory recently told the Walton Reporter.
The race to watch in Greene County is in the town of Windham, where incumbent supervisor Stacy Post is attempting to win re-election despite being indicted for installing secret eavesdropping devices in town hall earlier this year.
Post, who refuses to talk to the local newspaper, has been abandoned by all the political parties in her town, according to the Daily Mail. Undaunted, she has formed her own party, the “Have a Voice” party, which will appear on the general ballot in November.
Today, she is hoping that Windham’s registered Conservative voters will write in her name instead of voting for Robert Pelham, who has received the party’s endorsement, as well as the endorsement of the town’s Republican party.
There is action in the Democratic primary race for Sullivan County’s District Two Legislative seat, which covers the towns of Mamakating, Forestburgh, Highland and Lumberland. The seat is currently occupied by Kathy LaBuda, the longest-serving member of the county legislature, according to the River Reporter. But Lumberland town supervisor Nadia Rajsz is gunning for LaBuda’s seat while “openly bucking the party leadership,” the River Reporter’s Fritz Mayer writes, adding, “it seems that the contest could go either way.”
In the Sullivan County town of Bethel, incumbent supervisor Dan Sturm is being challenged by former supervisor Ira "Moose" Liff, who pleaded guilty to workers comp fraud during his brief term as supervisor in 2004, according to the River Reporter.
A lively Democratic face-off is happening between candidates for Ulster County’s District 18 Legislative seat, which covers Hurley and Marbletown.
Richard Parete, the incumbent legislator who has served for 14 years, was snubbed by the county’s Democratic Committee, which chose to endorse Douglas Adams, a Marbletown Board member, for the seat instead. Parete is forcing a primary race today, according to the Daily Freeman.
In the county’s District Three Legislative seat, which covers the towns of Ulster and Saugerties, incumbent Dean Fabiano is battling Jason Kovacs for the Republican primary, the Freeman reports.
Finally, although the Ulster County town of Shandaken is holding no primaries this year, the race for supervisor it shaping up to be interesting. Supervisor Rob Stanley, who ran unopposed in 2013, is being challenged at the GOP’s Republican caucus tonight by former town supervisor Robert Cross, according to the Catskill Mountain News. Stanley has already secured the backing of the town’s Democratic party, but if Cross wins the Republican nod tonight, the two could face off in the general election.