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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 26, 2010

Who will GOP back? Dems’ Dorner and Conservative Bolte vie for seat

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — The fall election for town board is taking shape. The Democratic Party has nominated incumbent Dale Dorner, and the Republicans will pick their candidate at next Tuesday’s caucus. Conservative Robert Bolte is running again, and will challenge Dorner in the primary for the Independence Party line. Bolte is also hoping for the GOP endorsement, but the town’s interim Republican chairman wants an enrolled Republican on the line.

In an off year for town elections, one town board seat is open because Marie Dermody, formerly a councilwoman, was elected supervisor last November, taking office on Jan. 1. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 3-to-1 in Rensselaerville, and the town board reflected that ratio after the November elections.

In a four-way race for two town board seats, Conservative Marion Cooke and Democratic Chairman John Kudlack came out on top, ousting Democratic incumbent Sherri Pine. Democratic Councilman Gary Chase’s four-year term ends next year.

Cooke, who ran on the Republican, Independence, and Conservative lines, received 500 votes, or 28 percent, and Kudlack, who ran on the Democratic and Independence lines, got 449 votes, or 26 percent. Bolte came in close third, garnering 429 votes, or 24 percent. This is part of what motivated him to run again, he said.

The Republican caucus will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Preston Hollow Firehouse. The primary for the Independence line is on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

In addition to nominating a town board candidate, the GOP will choose a candidate for the open town justice seat, now held by Timothy Miller, who has been nominated by the Democrats to keep his seat.

At its Jan. 1 re-organizational meeting, the four-member town board voted unanimously to appoint Dorner — a Democratic newcomer to politics — to fill Dermody’s vacant seat. Now, Dorner will be backed by the Democrats to hold her post on the board.

Dorner said this week that she had planned to run ever since her appointment on New Year’s Day.

“I had committed to running when I took on the first assignment, and I found that I liked it,” Dorner said, looking back on her eight months as a town board member. “I felt I have something to add, and that I can do the job,” she said.

Asked what makes her a good town board member, Dorner said, “I think that I’m an independent thinker, and I’m a reasonable voice, but I also feel that the board has functioned very well, and that our discussions and our decisions have been based on well-thought-out proposals, and in the public interest.”

And the town’s Democratic chair agrees.

“We’ve been very happy with her work,” said Councilman Kudlack, who chairs town’s Democratic Party. “She has a lot of good insight, and a lot of good knowledge about town business and stuff like that.” He added that her being an attorney makes her that much more valuable as a board member.

Dorner’s son, Jon Kosich, is Rensselaerville’s deputy attorney.

Jost Nickelsberg, a Republican and former town supervisor who did not seek re-election last year, said he plans to nominate Bolte for the Republican line. Bolte, a licensed electrician, has been part of a group of citizen watchdogs that have kept the town board under close scrutiny for years. He is also a member of the town’s budget committee, has helped with repairs at town hall, and sometimes transports the elderly on the senior bus.

“I’m going to run again because I feel I have a whole lot to offer, and I feel I do an awful lot for our town,” said Bolte. “Even though the town board got a tremendous amount of letters asking that they appoint me to that position, they elected to appoint someone who had never been to a town board meeting before.”

But Michael Weber, who was elected as assessor in November and is serving as the interim Republican chairman until after the coming election, said this week that he would rather see a Republican candidate get the line.

“The problem we have is that our side is so fragmented, because you have independents and Conservatives, and it’s a predominately Democratic town,” said Weber. “So, this fragmentation of our support is not such a good thing. I will support a Republican if we can get one.”

Bolte, chairman of the town’s Conservative Committee, said that he has been endorsed to run on the Conservative line, though he and Dorner are both aiming for the Independence line. In the coming weeks, voters will decide whether it will be Bolte or Dorner who gets to run on the Independence line in November, and next week’s caucus will determine whether it is Bolte or a third candidate that will run on the Republican line.

“The field is open; we’ll accept anybody that comes and is qualified, that’s a registered Republican,” Chairman Weber said of next week’s Republican caucus. “We’ll just have to wait till the meeting to see how things go.”

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