Russ Pokorny will head Dems’ slate in Knox

Russell Pokorny

Vasilios Lefkaditis

Vasilios Lefkaditis

KNOX — Breaking with a longstanding practice, the Knox Democratic Party will not hold a caucus this year, but instead will hold a primary on June 25, should there be any challengers to the slate of candidates endorsed by the Democratic Committee.

The final date for other candidates to submit opportunity-to-ballot petitions is April 11. The primary dates were moved months earlier this year because of changes in the state’s Election Law.

So far, no other candidates outside of the Democrats’ endorsed slate have submitted petitions, said Matthew Clyne on Wednesday. Clyne is the Democratic Commissioner of the Albany County Board of Elections.

Dee Woessner, Knox’s Democratic Committee chairwoman, said that past instances of intimidation at caucuses led to the decision to choose candidates through a primary. She referenced an incident in which Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis’s father-in-law video-recorded a caucus.

Lefkaditis, a Democrat, had tried, and failed, to get Democratic backing at two caucuses in a row. In 2015, he ran instead on the Conservative line, ousting in the general election longtime Democratic Supervisor Michael Hammond, who had been chosen by a landslide at the caucus.

The following election, in 2017, Lefkaditis got many more votes than at the previous Democratic caucus, but still not enough to best Amy Pokorny; the tally was 82 to 65. But he trounced Pokorny in the general election as he ran on the Republican line with two council candidates who were also victorious.

Woessner said that, in 2017, when the last caucus was held, paper ballots were used but that party members reported not liking using them.

The committee has nominated Russell Pokorny for supervisor, incumbents Earl Barcomb and Dennis Barber for town board, and Joan Adriance for town clerk, said Woessner. The party did not nominate anyone for tax collector, town justice, or highway superintendent.

Lefkaditis will again be running for supervisor on the Republican line. Gary Salisbury, Knox’s highway superintendent and Republican Party Chairman, said in an email on Wednesday that the GOP candidates were nominated on April 2.

Lefkaditis declined to comment on whether he would seek the Democratic nomination as well, as he has in the past two elections.

The Knox Republican Party submitted its certificate of nomination on April 3, said Clyne. Knox Democrats submitted their designation petitions on the same day, one day before those petitions were due.

Democratic candidates

Pokorny is currently the town assessor but intends to leave the post when his term expires in September. His wife, Amy Pokorny, served on the town council from 2012 until 2018. She gave up the post to run unsuccessfully for supervisor. The Pokornys owned the Knox Country Store for about six years, and are both involved in a number of local organizations.

Earl Barcomb, a guidance counselor at Schenectady High School who raises beef cattle on his Knox farm, has been on the town council since 2016. He was formerly on the town’s planning board and the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board. Barber, a school bus driver for the Guilderland School District and former town highway worker, has been a Knox councilman since 2012.

Joan Adriance was formerly president of the BKW school board. Her presence and frequent questions at town board meetings recently were magnified after her husband, Joseph Adriance, was fired with two other workers from his job at the town’s transfer station with little explanation. A recent decision from the Albany County Department of Civil Service states that his and another worker’s terminations violated state Civil Service Law (see related story).

Republican candidates

The other Republican nominees include Dennis Cyr, a Republican, and June Springer, a Democrat, for town council; and Bonnie Donati, a Republican, for town justice.

Cyr currently serves on the town’s zoning board of appeals after being nominated last year. He also runs his own business in the village of Altamont, Mountainview Prosthetics.

Donati also serves on the zoning board of appeals after being appointed at the beginning of this year.

Springer’s son, Jeremy Springer, was one of the three men hired by the town to work at the Knox transfer station, replacing the three who were not reappointed on New Year’s Day. Springer formerly served on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board.

Town Clerk Traci Schanz, an Independence Party member, and Salisbury will both be running for reelection on the Republican line. Schanz was elected two years ago, while Salisbury has served as highway superintendent for the last 16 years, and has worked at the garage for around 30 years.

Deputy tax collector Elizabeth Walk, a Democrat, will be running this year on the Republican line for tax collector. The current tax collector, Diane Champion, also a Democrat, said she will be leaving her post at the end of her term. She said that, after eight years, she believes it is time for someone new, and said that Walk would do a good job.

The Republican candidates were also all nominated by the Albany County Independence and Conservation parties. While there were other candidates who came in, Independence Party Chairman Paul Caputo said earlier this year that “We really like the direction that Vas — that the current supervisor — is bringing the town.”

More Hilltowns News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.