In terms of local races this year, there are a few that are noteworthy, such as Bob LaPietra and his (so far) ill-fated quest to win a seat on the Cobleskill Village Board of Trustees. Then there’s four guys vying for two council seats in the Town of Richmondville, and another Town Council election in Wright, but who the hell cares about that?
To all of these candidates who would assume office and serve as your local representatives, I have but one question that I would put out to each of you: what is the name of the mental illness that would make you want to have anything to do with local politics in this county? On second thought, comparing aspirants to political office with the mentally ill is a pretty harsh insult to the mentally ill.
But seriously folks, who are these people and what drives them to run for public office? In the case of Bob LaPietra, it is most likely sheer egotism. The man already behaves as if the laws of the earthly realm do not apply to him. How he must have sinisterly guffawed for two years straight as he continued to rent out his illegal and unsafe apartments to stupid college kids while village officials scrambled in futility to stop him. Meanwhile, Cobleskill’s absentee slumlords come out of the woodwork to cry foul when the Village attempts to require annual apartment inspections, and unsurprisingly your fearless leaders on the Village Board cave in like a termite-ravaged shack.
The problem in the Village of Cobleskill is that the incumbent (Carol McGuire) does little to inspire. However, her challenger is a crazed madman and perhaps a felon, and those are his good qualities! When it comes to LaPietra’s politics, his attacks on village officials (and in particular Carol McGuire) are largely of a piece with those of Mark Galasso, who regards the concept of Downtown revitalization with unmasked derision. Both Galasso and LaPietra call for a rapid dissolution of the Village, despite the fact that other options presented by the CGR study would leave Cobleskill far better off. Instead, Bob LaPietra (along with what would be a majority of Galasso and Sellers) is supporting a mad rush to eliminate the Village. The main result of such an action would be that Cobleskill’s infrastructure would essentially be up for grabs, a move supported by Galasso because he is a blindly greedy developer and wants to have at it, and most likely supported by Sellers because he has proven inept at handling the complex issue successfully, preferring now a solution that would take the matter out of his hands completely. LaPietra would just like to see Carol McGuire out of a job.
Linda Holmes, the third candidate for Village Trustee is just a nice old lady who serves on the Village’s recreation commission. While I confess that I do not find this crop of candidates to be the most compelling, I will lay out my endorsements nonetheless. For Cobleskill Trustee: Linda Holmes and Carol McGuire. I say McGuire because she has been a steady opponent of the attempts by Galasso and Sellers to move toward consolidation, urging more careful consideration instead. I pick Linda Holmes as choice number two, because as I’ve just stated, she is a nice old lady, and who doesn’t want to vote for a nice old lady?
Now on to Richmondville. Here four candidates are vying for two town council seats. Why any sane resident of the Town of Richmondville would want to serve on this Board is beyond my comprehension. From the few Town Board meetings I have attended, the job description of a Richmondville Town Board member seems to mainly consist of sitting slack-jawed behind a fold-out table, as angry resident after angry resident takes out all of their worldly frustrations on you. For some reason, Richmondville seems to have a disproportionate number of malcontents. Whether they are frothing over property tax assessments, the evils of wind turbines or the pitiful state of Romania’s Olympic gymnastics team, they can expect Town Board members to show up dutifully every month to serve as whipping boys.
One incumbent, Dennis Handy, apparently has better things to do and decided not to run, good for him. The other incumbent up for re-election, Dick Lape, probably didn’t want to run and probably was relieved when the Republican Party couldn’t manage to hold a caucus. However, he must have had a change of heart as he is now mounting a write-in campaign to stay on in his current position. Write in Dick Lape? Who in their right mind would bother?
Also in the running is newcomer Bob Johnson. Johnson is a registered republican, but because there was no nominating caucus, he is running as an independent on his own “Common Sense” ballot line. The first rat to be smelled with regards to Johnson is that if he had a lick of common sense he wouldn’t want to be a Town Board member in the first place. The second problem is that he is largely a one-issue candidate, backed by the infamous Bob Nied and Schoharie Valley Watch and the rest of the anti-windmill NIMBYs. Johnson is the husband of Kathleen Johnson, who you will recall, accused a man of stalking her at a recent wind power forum at SUNY Cobleskill because he had the audacity to stand up from his seat the same time she did, AFTER the presentation was over. These are people who persistently harangue Town officials but cry foul and see intimidation tactics the minute somebody talks over them.
Then there are the Democratic candidates, Scott Bennett and Vern Hall. Vern Hall has plenty of experience taking abuse from irate residents as a member of the Board of Assessment Review. On one occasion, I think I saw him snap back at a critic, getting a tad nasty and personal in the process. Needless to say, that secured my endorsement. Of course Hall is also a supporter of alternative energy and has worked as an alternative energy consultant, according to the Times Journal. I would much rather have an energy expert on the board then some NIMBY who will indiscriminately oppose anything that might lower his/her property value. Scott Bennett is the other candidate for Town Council. Bennett is President of the Richmondville Volunteer Emergency Squad and seems to bring a level-headed approach to issues of alternative energy and tax assessments.
Both Bennett and Hall would bring a welcome change to the Town Board. Johnson would continue the rancor and divisiveness while Lape would likely just continue sitting there slack-jawed.
In case you forgot there are other state and national contests to be decided on Tuesday as well. Democrat Don Barber is challenging long-time incumbent Jim Seward for a seat in the State Senate. Seward has been a staunch opponent of meaningful healthcare reform via his seat as Chair of the Senate Healthcare Committee. Seward has taken huge sums of money from insurance companies to block any legislation that would extend coverage to New Yorkers. Don Barber on the other hand is a farmer and long-time Town Supervisor from Caroline, New York. He is a supporter of growing our local economies, green energy and providing better healthcare opportunities for New Yorkers. I support Don Barber for Senate; it’s time for Seward to go.
For Congress, Paul Tonko, a democrat is running against Republican Jim Buhrmaster for the seat being vacated by Democrat Mike McNulty. Because Tonko is a shoe-in, I’ll spare you all the re-hashing of how he has been a tireless advocate for Upstate’s communities and alternative energy and all that. Tonko gets my vote, easily.