Dems sweep Guilderland

The Enterprise — Anne Hayden Harwood
Re-electing a leader: Patricia Slavick looks to newly re-elected Supervisor Kenneth Runion, who will serve his eighth consecutive term. Slavick was also re-elected on Tuesday night, as a town board member. She was the highest vote-getter in her race.

GUILDERLAND — The atmosphere was tense at both the Democratic and Republican headquarters on Election Night, as the numbers rolled in and candidates waited for the results.

The race for supervisor, between Democratic incumbent Kenneth Runion and Republican Mark Grimm, was closer than expected, and the person in the lead fluctuated as results were reported from the various districts.

It was around 11 p.m. at the Democratic headquarters — an abandoned storefront in the Price Chopper Plaza off of Johnston Road — when committee Chairman David Bosworth announced the unofficial results and declared Runion the winner by a margin of 583 votes.

Runion won an eighth two-year term with 53 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Election.

The rest of the Democratic candidates — incumbent council members Paul Pastore and Patricia Slavick; incumbent town Justice Denise Randall; new town justice, Richard Sherwood; new town clerk, Jean Cataldo; and new receiver of taxes, Lynne Buchanan — swept their races.

There are 350 absentee ballots that will be counted this week — all results remain unofficial until they are counted.

The board of elections also tallied how many voters did not choose a candidate in each specific race — 256 in the race for supervisor, 787 in the race for town board, 355 in the race for town clerk, 985 in the race for town justice, and 394 in the race for receiver of taxes.

At the Republican headquarters — Dorato’s restaurant in the Star Plaza — committee Chairman Matthew Nelligan said that, although the party came up short in the election, he felt it was making progress in town.

“Even though Guilderland is roughly 50-percent Democratic, we’re slowly making headway,” said Nelligan.

According to the board of elections, party enrollment in Guilderland breaks down this way: 36 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 26 percent unaffiliated, and the rest small party.

Nelligan also said he believed the Republicans had run a clean campaign, and given the voters another choice.

The opinion of the Democrats on whether the Republican campaign had been clean was clear during each of the candidates’ thank-you speeches — they all said it was one of the dirtiest, most negative campaigns they’d ever seen.

Richard Sherwood was elected as the town’s third judge, with 5,313 votes; the post was added because the court is so busy.

His Republican opponents, Stephen DeNigris and Christopher Aldrich, garnered roughly 3,500 votes each. Sherwood said the judicial campaigns were the worst the town had ever seen.

Throughout the course of the election season, the Republican candidates asserted that the overcrowding in the town court was a direct result of the current town justices lack of dedication to the job, claiming they worked only four days per month and didn’t deserve the pay and benefits they received.

Sherwood was disgusted by the implications and said he blamed, in part, the leadership of the party.

“Shame on the leadership for, at best, allowing it, and, at worst, promoting it,” Sherwood said during his speech.

Over at the Republican headquarters, Stephen DeNigris, a lawyer, said he would be switching parties again — he was a registered Democrat running on the Republican line.

“I’m taking some time off, buying a plane ticket, and going to the Caribbean to recharge and come back strong,” said DeNigris.

Randall said her tactic throughout the campaign was to “keep my head down and do my job.”

When Bosworth announced her as the clear winner — she received more votes than any other candidate, at 5,550 — he noted that she had never once, during the campaign, mentioned the names of her opponents in a negative connotation.

Randall dedicated her win to her father, who died just weeks ago, in the midst of her campaign.

Her father, she said, taught her to “never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.”

She also said Runion had been the point-person who kept everyone positive during the negativity.

“He buoyed us up when we need buoying,” she said.

“I think we ran a very positive campaign,” said Runion, a lawyer, the day after elections. “We focused on our record and our accomplishments.”

He said the race for supervisor was close, but he attributed it, in part, to last-minute “targeted” letters that were distributed by the Republicans in specific neighborhoods.

“Those do have an impact on the vote totals,” said Runion. “They can either suppress the vote or produce a negative vote.”

The letters, he said, contained a lot of misinformation.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the results,” he said. “I want to thank the voters for their support — they’ve supported me for supervisor on eight separate occasions, and we plan to continue to move the town forward and represent them to the best of our ability.”

Grimm, for his part, was disappointed.

“I really felt like I was going to win,” he said on Wednesday. “And, I feel like I may have the majority in the whole town, but it only matters who votes — they turned out more supporters than we did, and I think that was the difference.”

Still, he said, he was grateful for the votes he did receive.

Grimm said he visited over 9,000 homes in the course of his campaign, and on Election Night, he stood at a busy Guilderland intersection, next to election signs, waving at motorists.

“Hundreds of people supported my cause,” said Grimm. “It’s bittersweet.”

He said he wasn’t sure what his political future would entail, and that he wanted to focus on his business for a while. He works as a media consultant.

“I care too much about this town to keep quiet, though,” said Grimm. “I intend to keep looking out for people as a private citizen.”

The race for town board was a close one, with only 227 votes separating incumbent Pastore, a lawyer, and Republican Lee Carman, a banker and county legislator, but Pastore ultimately won out, with 4,646 votes to Carman’s 4,419. 

Incumbent Slavick received the most votes for the position, with 4,833, and Republican Mark Livingston, an electrical contractor, wasn’t too far behind the others, with 4,073 votes.

Bosworth called Pastore a focal point of the campaign, never bowing to the negativity.

Echoing the Democrats’ campaign slogan, Pastore said the results of the election were “proof that working together really works.”

Slavick, who works for the state in finance, said she was glad to have another four years to spend on the town board, especially under the leadership of Runion.

Cataldo, who currently serves as the receiver of taxes, handily won the race for town clerk, receiving 5,800 votes, to her Republican opponent Jason Wright’s 3,231 votes. Cataldo said she was excited to move into her new role with the “same great team” behind her.

Buchanan, who served as the deputy receiver of taxes for more than three years, also easily won her race, with 5,262 votes to Republican Bryan Best’s 3,737.

She said that campaigning with the Democrats was one of the greatest experiences of her life, and she was proud to join them all in office.

Bosworth concluded the night at the Democratic headquarters by saying that he hoped his team would remain in office for “at least another 14 years.”

Nelligan called the past 14 years a “long, hard slog” but he feels confident that the Republicans continue to make progress and, he said, “You can count on the Republican Party to be involved in public issues going forward.”

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