No opposition in village elections; no candidates for Altamont’s justice court

Kaitlin Wilson

Kaitlin Wilson

In village elections, turnout usually is low while candidate choice often doesn’t exist. 

While March 21 will determine if the former holds true, the latter is a certitude. 

The incumbent trustees seeking re-election in Altamont and Voorheesville, all of whom were initially appointed to their respective boards, face no opposition for the seats.

The terms are for four years. Altamont trustees are paid $5,000 annually; Voorheesville trustees are paid $6,750 each year.



The position of Altamont village justice will go unfilled as the current justice, Rebecca Morse-Hout, who has served for nearly three decades, declined to seek re-election and no candidate filed a petition to replace her on the bench. 

As for filling Hout’s position, Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court system, told The Enterprise by email that the village has the option to fill the position.

“If no one is appointed or elected, then the district typically does an AO [administrative order] to assign a judge from another court to handle those cases,” Chalfen wrote. “Unless of course, there are zero cases in that court (unlikely) then there wouldn’t be the need.”

Altamont has two justices. 

In 2015, when the village’s other current justice, James Greene, was appointed to the job, Altamont went for some time without a second justice, and during that time, Hout took on the additional caseload.

Mayor Kerry Dineen, in response to a question about whether the village plans to appoint someone to the position, told The Enterprise by email, “The Village Board cannot make any decisions regarding this position until after the Village election.”

Altamont’s two unopposed trustees, Nicholas Fahrenkopf and Michelle Ganance, face a different electoral landscape than they did four years ago, when they were part of just the fifth contested village election since 1992.

In 2019, challengers Simon Litten and James Sullivan were spurred to run by some villagers’ frustration over a vote to rezone a residential property as commercial so that Stewart’s could expand. 

In a close race, Fahrenkopf and Ganance, running as a team, turned back the challenge from Litten and Sullivan, both of whom are now members of the village’s zoning board. 

Ganance was appointed to the board in 2018 and did not respond to questions from The Enterprise before posting time.

Fahrenkopf, who has been on the board since 2015, told The Enterprise by email that he’s seeking re-election because there’s still work to be done.

“In my mind,” he wrote, “the most critical things for the village government to provide are the least glamorous: do we have clean water when we open our faucet? Does our sewer system work? When you call 911 does adequate help arrive quickly? Do we have functional roads, sidewalks and street lights?

“The parks and events and library and social activities are what most people think of when they think of village life but without the critical services there isn't a village to enjoy. So, I feel a great responsibility to make sure those services are there so that most people can enjoy Altamont and not have to worry about those things.”

Fahrenkopf said he was most proud of his work with the volunteer fire department, getting state grants to replace old trucks. He added, “And Nixle — being able to easily get information out to residents was a long overdue project.”

Going forward, Fahrenkopf would like to make progress on upgrading the village hall, using the Crounse House property, and figuring out what to do with the village’s unused reservoir in Knox — all while pursuing state and federal grants.



In Voorheesville, incumbent trustees Sarita Winchell and Kaitlin Wilson face no competition for four-year terms.

Wilson, who was appointed to the village board in July 2021 and won the seat outright in March of last year, said by email in her first full term, “I’m hoping I can continue to give a younger perspective on issues. I want to make sure the decisions being made are sound decisions for generations to come, and not just for the current residents.”

She also said, “I’m very proud of our Mayor for sticking up for the village residents in getting the CDTA bus line back in service!”

A trustee since 2017, when she was appointed to fill the seat of the resigning Florence Reddy, Winchell, when asked what she was most proud of in her time on the board, said by email, “The fact that the Trustees have implemented many of the goals in the Village's Comprehensive Plan. Many times these plans just sit on a shelf.

“In Voorheesville zoning has been updated to reflect residents’ input, design standards have been developed for new structures, attention has been given to help Main Street businesses with the extension of the sewer line, sidewalks have been expanded to augment the walkability of the Village, and the importance of Village businesses has been recognized with new signage by the Rail Trail. These are all goals that were highlighted in the Comprehensive Plan.”

Winchell, who retired from handling finances for the Voorheesville schools, said that, while the village is in a healthy financial position, it is facing the challenge of addressing aging infrastructure.

“I would like to work on analyzing how the cost of this challenge can be met utilizing multi-year financial planning, seeking outside grants, prioritizing projects, and hopefully minimizing the impact on the Village taxpayer,” Winchell said.

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