KJ backs McWatters for vacant Monroe seat

Kiryas Joel leaders have announced their support for Dennis McWatters to fill the Monroe Town Board seat left vacant since January, praising McWatters as a “professional public servant” while castigating the citizens group that already has petitioned to put him on the ballot in November.

According to a press release from Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin on Sunday, 1,363 Kiryas Joel residents signed an independent petition to place McWatters on the ballot on a “Peace and Harmony” line. The petition was mailed to the county Board of Elections on Friday, according to the release, which cast the village’s support for McWatters as “a show of understanding and continued desire for peace.”

The release stated, “We heard the argument made by some Monroe residents that because of the voting practice of the KJ residents it may have the unintentional affect of somehow depriving the out of KJ residents in monroe of a feeling that they too are represented on the Town Board by candidates of their choice, therefore this nominating petition was submitted to nominate their candidate.”

McWatters, a town Zoning Board member and former Planning Board member, ran for Town Board in November with a slate of candidates backed by the United Monroe citizens group. Monroe voters in areas outside Kiryas Joel turned out in droves and overwhelmingly supported McWatters and the other United Monroe candidates, who lost nonetheless to contenders backed by Kiryas Joel’s voting blocs.

United Monroe is now campaigning for McWatters to serve the final year of the unexpired board term of Harley Doles, a former councilman who was elected supervisor with Kiryas Joel’s support in 2013. Doles and his fellow board members have failed to fill the vacancy through an appointment. Democrats Susan Roth and Blanca Johnson also have petitioned to run for the Monroe seat in November, and will compete in a Sept. 9 primary for the nomination.

Support for McWatters by both United Monroe and Kiryas Joel in November would guarantee his election, sidestepping a conflict that would likely exacerbate tensions over last November’s vote and the subsequent drive to expand Kiryas Joel by 507 acres.

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Two more petitions filed in crowded Assembly race

Two candidates in the crowded Assembly District 98 race  – including one who appeared to be out after her Democratic petition was invalidated — have cemented their places on the November general election ballot by filing independent nominating petitions this week.

Republican Dan Castricone, a former Orange County legislator who’s competing in a four-way GOP primary in September, submitted a petition to run on the ballot line of the United Monroe citizens group, and said that he and his United Monroe supporters had collected 2,400 signatures.

Jacqueline Boulin Romain, a Democrat and Rockland County resident also seeking the Assembly seat that Annie Rabbitt vacated in January, petitioned to run on a Preserve Hudson ballot line, putting her back in the field of candidates after her Democratic petition was rejected (unless this petition also gets invalidated). Once again, eight people are vying for the Assembly seat.

Here’s the complicated scorecard at this stage, with more time left for other candidates to file (and challenge) independent petitions before Tuesday’s deadline:

Four Republicans — Castricone, Karl Brabenec, Michael Morgillo and Kevin Hudson — and three Democrats — Aron Wieder, Elisa Tutini and Krystal Serrano — will compete in primaries for their parties’ nominations on Sept. 9.

Brabenec is assured the Independence Party line and perhaps the Conservative line as well. He had Castricone’s bid for the Conservative line blocked in court through a technicality, although Castricone is appealing that ruling and would face Brabenec in a Conservative primary on Sept. 9 if he wins his appeal.

So regardless of who wins the Republican and Democratic primaries and Conservative Party tussle, four candidates have certain places on the general election ballot at this point: Brabenec on the Indepedence line, Tutini on the Working Families line, Castricone on the United Monroe line and Boulin Romain on Preserve Hudson.

In other words, at least four candidates could run for the 98th Assembly District in November.

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Ex-alderman starts independent run for Congress (updated)

Former Middletown Alderman Scott Smith, who quit his Common Council seat last year before moving to Goshen, has filed a petition to run as an independent candidate for the congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, saying on his web site that he had collected nearly 5,000 signatures.

Smith joins a rematch race between Maloney and former Rep. Nan Hayworth, the Republican Maloney unseated in 2012 after she had served one term in Congress. According to the state Board of Elections, Smith’s petition to run on the “Mr. Smith for Congr.” line was received on Aug. 6 and has been deemed valid, although it is being challenged.

A description of his political positions on his web site sounds Republican themes by denouncing the NY SAFE Act — a 2013 package of gun restrictions that was enacted in Albany and that Congress had nothing to do with — and the Affordable Care Act, which he describes as “an even worse miscarriage of legislative action.” He also called for tighter border control, tax simplification and cutting government waste.

Smith, who is 41 and not registered with any political party, successfully ran as a Democrat for 2nd Ward alderman in Middletown in 2009 and 2011. He needed 3,500 signatures to mount an independent run for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat.

Update: In an interview Friday, Smith, a married father of three who teaches 8th grade science in the East Ramapo School District, said he decided to run out of frustration with the country’s direction and sense that most politicians serve their own parties before the people. He said he’s uncertain about his chances, but said he would not have gone through the trouble of launching a campaign if it was purely a lark.

“I honestly believe that I have a chance,” he said.

He said he was “strongly independent” and “strongly unaffiliated” with either Republicans or Democrats, adding, “I don’t know if I’ll ever register with a party.”

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Tenney to face Herkimer sheriff in 101st primary

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney will be facing off in a Republican primary against Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber, according to state Board of Election records.

Tenney, from New Hartford, recently lost her challenge to Rep. Richard Hanna in a Republican primary for the 22nd Congressional District but had enough time to run again for the seat she holds in the sprawling 101st Assembly District.

The 101st Assembly district nicks the borders of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties and meanders northward through Delaware, Otsego, Herkimer and Oneida counties.

Tenney is serving her second term in Albany and the seat is up for reelection in November, with a primary in September.

There is no Democratic challenger.

As of July, Farber reporter $5,973.44 in his campaign account versus Tenney’s $10,558.84 in the same period.

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One less candidate, primary in crowded Assembly race

The cast of candidates seeking Annie Rabbitt’s vacated Assembly seat has dipped to seven from eight with the invalidation of the Democratic petition filed by a Rockland County contender, Jacqueline Boulin Romain.

The state Board of Elections’ updated list of candidate petitions also indicates the Independence Party paperwork submitted by Monroe resident Elisa Tutini — who’s also seeking the Democratic nomination and is assured the Working Families line in the November general election — has been thrown out. That reduced to three from four the number of primaries being held next month for the 98th Assembly District, which crosses southern Orange County and includes part of the Town of Ramapo in Rockland.

There are now four Republicans and three Democrats running in the Sept. 9 primaries. Two Republicans — Karl Brabenec and Dan Castricone — also will compete in a separate primary that day for the Conservative Party line. Brabenec now has the Independence line as a certain perch on the the general election ballot. Castricone is expected to run on the United Monroe line, which also would guarantee him a ballot spot in November.

The Democratic candidates are Aron Wieder, Krystal Serrano and Tutini. The Republicans are Kevin Hudson, Michael Morgillo, Brabenec and Castricone.

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Casino interests give $9,000 to Neuhaus campaign (updated)

Leading a county with the largest pool of casino applicants in the state paid some dividends for Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus in the last few months: the finance report his campaign filed last month after his first six months in office show he collected $9,000 in donations from a major casino company and real estate firm involved with three of the six bids for a casino license in Orange.

His report lists contributions of $2,000, $1,000 and $1,000 on May 8 and July 10 from developer David Flaum and his Rochester-based firm, which secured the 115-acre site in Woodbury on which Caesars Entertainment hopes to build an $880 million casino resort. Genting New York LLC, an affiliate of the Malaysian company with casino resort proposals in Tuxedo and Montgomery, donated $5,000 to the Neuhaus campaign on May 20.

All told, Neuhaus raised more than $47,000 in campaign funds between Jan. 11 and July 11, but he spent almost as much, leaving him with a net gain of $8 over that reporting period and around $16,000 in his coffers by its end, according to the financial statement. (Update: this sentence initially described his net cash increase as $8,000 instead of $8, inadvertently adding three zeros where they didn’t belong. Apologies for the mistake.)

Other large contributions included:

– $4,000 on June 3 and June 12 from Laborers Local 17, one of four building and construction trade unions that donated money to Neuhaus.

– $2,500 on May 8 from Jay Holt, managing director at Holt Construction, the Pearl River company that oversaw major additions to the SUNY Orange campuses in Middletown and Newburgh and has been hired to steer the planned overhaul of the Government Center.

– $2,500 on June 18 from Mediacom Communications Corp., the cable TV company that opened its new headquarters in Blooming Grove last year.

– $2,500 on March 14, June 12 and June 17 from Tern Construction and Development LLC in Carmel, N.Y.

– $2,000 on May 20 from Atlas Security Services Inc. in Goshen, which provides security in county buildings.

Among Neuhaus’ largest expenditures during the same period was a $20,000 payment on June 25 to the political consulting firm of Jay Townsend, who has advised Republican candidates and office holders at all levels, including Neuhaus’ predecessor as county executive, Ed Diana.

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Gibson votes to sue Obama; Eldridge attacks

Rep. Chris Gibson joined all but five of his fellow Republicans in the House Wednesday evening, voting to sue President Barack Obama.

The vote almost immediately elicited an attack from his Democratic contender Sean Eldridge, saying it was a waste of time, money and proof of Gibson’s less- than-moderate status.

In an almost completely party-line vote, the motion to sue the president passed, 225-201. Five Republicans and all 196 Democrats voted against the measure.

The vote gave authority to Speaker of the House John Boehner to initiate litigation “for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States.” It authorizes the House to take on Obama about delaying a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that would require most employers to provide health insurance to their employees.

Shortly before the vote that occurred at 6:28 p.m., Gibson released a statement on his Facebook page explaining his vote to sue the president, saying it was “long overdue” but said his vote is not against Obama but against executive overreach dating back to World War II.

“When I state “long overdue” here, I am not referring to President Obama. I mean past Congresses should have reined in the President decades ago,” Gibson writes.

In a lengthy explanation, Gibson, from Kinderhook, frames his vote as a fight against the consolidation of executive power, referring entirely to the executive’s authority to go to war without Congressional approval. He doesn’t mention the intention of the particular lawsuit, aimed at the Affordable Care Act.

Gibson, who represents all of Sullivan and Ulster counties in the 19th Congressional District, is facing off against Eldridge from Shokan this November.

Eldridge released a statement similar to that of other House Democrats after the vote, saying there are “countless issues Congress should be working on, from rebuilding our infrastructure, to raising the minimum wage, and tackling comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, it’s more party politics and political gimmicks.”

He used the vote to try to paint Gibson as less moderate, a tactic he’s used throughout his campaign.

“Chris Gibson claims to be a moderate, No Labels representative for our district. Yet tonight, when five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against this senseless lawsuit, Chris Gibson was not one of them,” Eldridge writes.

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Schumer, Gillibrand advance effort to rename Monroe post office

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced in the Senate a bill already passed by the House of Representatives to name the Monroe post office after a Monroe native who died overseas while working for the CIA.

The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, would designate the post office in the ShopRite shopping center off Route 17M as the “National Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency NCS Officer Gregg David Wenzel Memorial Post Office.” Wenzel, a Monroe-Woodbury High School graduate who was inspired by the 2001 terrorist attacks to join the CIA, was killed at age 33 in 2003 in a car accident in Ethiopia.

The House passed the bill without opposition in June. Maloney’s Republican predecessor, Nan Hayworth, had sponsored identical legislation that also passed in her chamber but fizzled without a Senate sponsor.

Schumer and Gillibrand issued the following statements on Monday:

“Mr. Wenzel was a great New Yorker and a true American hero. Called to serve his country following the horrific events of September 11th, he made the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect the freedoms we all know and cherish,” Schumer said. “Someone as heroic as Mr. Wenzel deserves to have his legacy live on in an enduring way, and that is why I am honored to be able to introduce this bill in the Senate. Naming the Monroe Post Office after such an incredible local hero would be a truly fitting tribute to his courage, dedication and sacrifice.”

“Officer Gregg David Wenzel served his country during a time when it was needed the most,” Gillibrand said. “He put his life on the line to protect our freedom and will always be remembered by the Monroe community. Naming the Monroe Post Office after Officer Wenzel will honor his life and create a memorial to forever commemorate his legacy.”

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Cahill’s campaign war chest bursting vs. Zimet

The latest campaign disclosure forms filed with the state Board of Elections show incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Cahill with a growing war chest versus his primary rival, Susan Zimet.

In reports filed for July, Cahill, D-Kingston, raised $63,630 for the first half of the year, bringing his campaign war chest to $112,597.28 after spending $33,675.29.

Zimet, the New Paltz town supervisor, only announced that she would primary Cahill back in May, giving her little time to catch up to Cahill, a longtime incumbent who’s held the seat since 1992. Her July report says she had a closing balance of $1,612.77, after getting $6,949 in contributions and spending $5,336.23.

Zimet and Cahill are challenging each other in a Democratic primary for the 103rd Assembly seat. Kevin Roberts, an Ulster County legislator from Plattekill, is challenging on the Republican side.

Zimet’s lone corporate contribution came from The Kemper Corporation of White Plains, an insurance provider, who gave $1,000. Most of her contributions came from four individuals.

The bulk of contributions to Cahill comes from corporate and other monetary sources. On the corporate side, Cahill raised $14,700, mostly from businesses representing insurance and healthcare.

Cahill is chair to the Committee on Insurance in the state Assembly.

Under the “other monetary” category, Cahill received contributions from a myriad of different law firms, political action committees, or PACs, and groups that represent physicians and insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

You can view the full list here, but some of the biggest contributors on that side include Enterprise Holdings Inc. NY PAC (Enterprise rent-a-car’s political arm) contributing $2,500 and Fidelity National Financial Inc. (a provider insurance and mortgage services)  contributing $4,100.

All in all, Cahill received $44,700 in “other monetary” contributions.

Roberts has lent himself $3,000 of his own money and had a total balance of $2,906.44 in his July filing.

In Ulster County, the 103rd Assembly District includes the towns of Esopus, Gardiner, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Olive, Plattekill, Rochester, Rosendale, Shandaken, Ulster, Woodstock and the City of Kingston.

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Eighth candidate joins Assembly race

Another Democrat has joined the already crowded field of candidates hoping to fill Annie Rabbitt’s vacated Assembly seat, having filed petitions received by the state Board of Elections four days after the July 10 filing deadline but apparently postmarked by that date.

According to the board’s updated roster, Elisa Tutini, the Town of Monroe’s Dial-a-Bus coordinator, filed Democratic, Independence and Working Families Party petitions, which will put her in Democratic and Independence primaries on Sept. 9 and give her a guaranteed ballot line — Working Families — for the general election on Nov. 4.

Here’s the full list of contenders for the 98th Assembly District seat:  Democrats Krystal Serrano, Jacqueline Boulin Romain, Aron Wieder and Tutini; and Republicans Michael Morgillo, Daniel Castricone, Kevin Hudson and Karl Brabenec.

 

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