Berne GOP caucus: Thiem, Martin pick up endorsements for town board, Harvey for justice

BERNE — Berne’s general election is beginning to take shape. 
At the town’s Republican caucus on Friday, May 26, party members endorsed incumbent town board member Al Thiem and planning board Chairman Joe Martin, who’s making his first run for office, for the two open town board seats, party member and town highway Superintendent Randy Bashwinger told The Enterprise this week.

For town justice, the party endorsed Jeff Harvey, Bashwinger said. Harvey had been appointed justice last November upon the resignation of Justice Al Zuk, who moved out of town. 

Martin will be running to replace Deputy Supervisor Anita Clayton, who is choosing to retire at the end of her term this year, she told The Enterprise this week. 

Clayton, a Democrat, had been elected to the town board in 2021, on the Republican and Conservative lines. She had sought the Democratic line but lost narrowly to Democrat Tim Lippert in a primary.

Previously the town clerk, Clayton said that retiring at the end of her two-year town board term — she was elected to fill a vacancy — had always been the plan. 

Martin told The Enterprise in an email this week that he’s running for town board on his experience and appreciation for agriculture, explaining that his family were farmers in the town of Malone, in New York’s far north. 

“​​I spent summers on my Uncle’s farm and my Grandfather was a dairy farmer, along with my great Grandparents and beyond that,” Martin said. “So of course that’s one of my main focuses, how do we conserve and thrive on our land.”

He added, though, that senior housing will be a priority. 

“I grew up with Grandparents in the house,” he said. “We have tremendous resources in Albany County and the Town of Berne. I would work hard to connect those resources to the residents that need them. Many of our seniors are large land owners. Land is expensive to maintain and I would like to explore options as a community on how we could possibly implement new ideas for ‘Age in Place, Inlaw apartments (attached or detached)’ and other ways to have options for residents to not be displaced and able to continue living on their land in their home town.

“As a community,” he went on, “I believe where we would benefit the most is bridging gaps between the residents and the resources for all age groups. Myself being in the trades and a small business owner in the Port of Albany I found that my greatest assist navigating business and just life in general was mentorship. So I would continue to work hard at connecting people to the tools they need to be successful. Our community has amazing people with a vast amount of knowledge to share so connecting them to each other would be beneficial for all.”

Thiem, who’s originally from Long Island and moved to Berne in 2020, told The Enterprise last February, after his appointment that he was interested in serving on the board so that he could have a hand in making the town into a place “my family loves as much as I do.”

He said that he was unhappy with the partisan divide he was seeing in the country and that “we all need to work together to make it a place our children can be proud of and enjoy the same freedoms that we grew up with.”



The Berne GOP is the dominant party in the rural town, having seized a majority on the board in 2020, and completely filling it out two years later. 

Democrats have historically outnumbered Republicans in the town, at least in terms of enrollment, but Republican-backed candidates in the 2021 election each won by margins of around 10 points or more. 

The Republican administration has, however, weathered a number of controversies since then, perhaps most notably the ejection of former Berne Supervisor Kevin Crosier, a Democrat, from a public hearing on a since-tabled ATV law despite Crosier not breaking any rules. 

Crosier has since made formal gestures toward a civil-rights lawsuit against the town, for which he will be seeking at least $100,000, according to legal papers, after the town board failed to offer an apology. 

Crosier, who is a member of the town’s Democratic Committee, told The Enterprise this week that the party will be holding a caucus later this month. 

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