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Regional Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 14, 2006

McEneny Barnette win but don’t talk

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALBANY COUNTY — Together, two candidates from opposing tickets in Tuesday’s primary will be representing the 104th District in New York State’s Democratic committee.

Assemblyman John McEneny and New Scotland’s Democratic chair, Connie Burns, challenged Albany City Treasurer Betty Barnette and the city of Albany’s mayor, Jerry Jennings, for the district’s two spots on the committee, an unusual move since the positions are usually filled by appointment — unless there is a primary challenge. Each assembly district in the state has two committee members, one man and one woman, who represent the party for their area.

On Tuesday, voters chose one candidate from each ticket, making the 104th District’s representatives to the state’s Democratic committee McEneny, who garnered 6,346 votes, and Barnette, who got 5,637 votes, according to unofficial results released by the Albany County Board of Elections. Jennings got 5,589 votes and Burns pulled in 4,452.

"I could foresee a long, tense, five-hour ride to Buffalo for a convention," McEneny told The Enterprise when asked what he thought of serving with Barnette.

"Our next meeting, quite honestly, is going to be in Long Island and we won’t be carpooling," said Barnette, responding to McEneny through The Enterprise.

Both politicians said that they were looking forward to shaping the Democratic party’s future, although, as of last night, the two hadn’t yet spoken with each other.

Barnette and McEneny will help craft the Democrats’ policies and select its candidates for upcoming elections, including the next Presidential candidate, during their two-year terms.

"I am in this to work with Democrats," said Barnette. "I am willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with me."

"I am not a part of whatever it is that Mr. McEneny seems to have going with our mayor," she said, referring to the friction between Jennings and McEneny since the mayoral primary that Jennings won against McEneny seven years ago.

Jennings could not be reached for comment yesterday. But he told The Enterprise before the election, "My primary responsibility is the mayor of Albany. But as a delegate, my responsibility is to help make decisions about the party, regardless of geography."

"This isn’t about the city of Albany," McEneny said. "It’s about a district of 134,000 people — urban, suburban, and rural — and about how the statewide party governs itself."

McEneny has represented the 104th district, which includes most of the city of Albany, and the towns of Guilderland, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville, including the villages of Altamont and Voorheesville, in the state assembly for 14 years and said that he decided to run for the Democratic committee seat because he wasn’t happy with the leadership presented by Barnette or Jennings.

Burns and McEneny ran on a platform of "balancing the representation" in the party — bringing in the interests of rural and suburban Democrats as well as urban party members.

There has been a shift in Democratic power recently, McEneny said, moving into towns like Guilderland, which used to be predominantly Republican, and Bethlehem. "When I won my assembly seat over 14 years ago, in the town of Guilderland there was not a single Democratic representative in town," he said. "Now, I believe there is one Republican left in town."

This was Burns’ first election, which both she and McEneny cited as the reason for her defeat, although she did well in her own town, "In the town of New Scotland I won 4-to-1," she said. "Where I didn’t do well was the city."

Barnette, who said she had never run in an election outside of the city, still managed to carry enough votes to put her ahead. She said that she wanted to remain on the committee because she wanted to have a say in the future of the party and, she said, "The best way to have your voice heard is to be at the table."

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