Choices abound in June 25 primary

ALBANY COUNTY — Last year, New York was the only state in the United States to hold state and federal primaries on different days. No more.

Early this year, the State Senate, newly controlled by Democrats, passed voting reform measures — including moving primary elections to June — that had been passed many times by the State Assembly, long controlled by Democrats. Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the reforms into law.

Tuesday, June 25, is Primary Day.

In this Primary Day Special Section, The Enterprise is presenting an overview of candidates contesting for various party lines in our coverage area — the Helderberg Hilltowns and Guilderland — as well as in Albany County overall.

There are no primaries for New Scotland residents on June 25.

[Find a collection of locally relevant races here.]

 

Opportunity to ballot

New York is one of a handful of states that allows fusion voting. That means minor parties can cross-endorse major-party candidates.

New York has eight official parties: the two major parties — Republican and Democratic — and six minor parties — Independence, Conservative, Working Families, Green, Libertarian, and Serve America Movement parties.

For a non-member of a party to run on that party’s line, “Normally, you circulate a designating petition,” said Matthew Clyne, the Democratic commissioner for the Albany County Board of Elections.

This allows that candidate to get a certificate of authorization needed to run on a party line that he or she is not a member of. Alternatively, a petition can be circulated for an opportunity to ballot; both require the same percentage of voters from the previous election, said Clyne.

Defining an opportunity to ballot, Clyne said, “That gives the members of a political party the opportunity to nominate a non-party member, who did not receive authorization from the party, to run for a particular office.”

What will appear on the electronic paper ballot will be either a box with the name of a candidate chosen by a party on top or a grayed-out box on top. In either case, under the box with the name or the grayed-out box will be another box that is blank; a voter can write a name in that box and then fill in the oval to make the vote count.

 

Albany County

Roughly half of Albany County’s 182,351 enrolled voters are Democrats. About 42,000 are not affiliated with any party and about 34,000 are Republicans. The rest are enrolled in small parties. (These figures, like others in this story on party enrollment, are from the Albany County Board of Elections.)

That means that the Democratic primary for county posts is often more important than the general election in November.

On Tuesday, enrolled Albany County Democrats can vote for:

— One of two candidates for comptroller — Susan A. Rizzo or Darius Shahinfar;

— One of two candidates for Albany County Court judge — Andra L. Ackerman or Holly A. Trexler; and

— Two of seven candidates for Albany County Family Court judge — Michael S. Barone, William P. Andrews, Amy E. Joyce, Sherri J. Brooks, Margaret C. Tabak, David J. Levy, or Jennifer K. Corona.

These candidates are all profiled inside.

There are no other parties with primaries for county posts on June 25.

 

Guilderland

Out of about 23,000 registered voters in Guilderland, about 9,500 are Democrats, about 5,500 are Republicans, about 6,000 are not affiliated with any party, and the rest belong to small parties.

Democrats who live in District 30 in Guilderland can vote for one of two candidates — Dustin Reidy or Stephen Wickham.

Democrats who live in District 31 in Guilderland can vote for one of two candidates — Mickey Cleary or Paul Miller.

Conservative Party members living anywhere in the town of Guilderland can vote for one of two candidates for Guilderland Town Justice — John W. Bailey or Stephen R. Chesley. Guilderland has 529 Conservative Party members.

Working Family Party Members living anywhere in the town of Guilderland have an opportunity to ballot for town justice. They can vote for Stephen R. Chesley — whose name is printed on the ballot — or they can write in the name of another person in the block of space provided under that on the ballot. Guilderland has 46 Working Family Party members.

Stories on these three Guilderland races are on pages 8B and 9B.

 

Berne

Berne has 2,048 registered voters of which 877 are Democrats, 391 are Republicans, 542 are unaffiliated, and the rest belong to small parties.

Members of the Working Families Party — there are 5 in Berne — who live anywhere in town will have an opportunity to ballot for town council members as well as for town assessor. No names appear on the ballot. Voters can write in two names for town council and two names for assessor.

In November, Bonnie Conklin and Mathew Harris are running for town council on the Republican line; Brian Crawford and Christine Valachovic, both Democrats, were unanimously backed for assessor by the Republicans at their caucus. The Democrats have not yet held their caucus but incumbent Democratic council members Karen Schimmer and Dawn Jordan have said they will not seek re-election.

 

Knox

Knox has 1,921 registered voters of which 708 are Democrats, 463 are Republican, 534 are unaffiliated with any party, and the rest belong to small parties.

Democrats in Knox have an opportunity to ballot for supervisor, town board members, and town clerk.

The top row of boxes on the ballot has the names of the candidates nominated by the Knox Democratic Committee: Russell W. Pokorny for supervisor, Earl H. Barcomb and Dennis P. Barber for councilman, and Joan Adriance for town clerk.

Underneath this is a blank row of boxes where Democrats can write in other names: One each for supervisor and clerk, and two for council.

For the first time, the Knox Democratic Committee moved from holding a caucus to a primary system for choosing candidates.

June Springer, a Democrat running for Knox Town Council on the Republican line, wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor in May, urging Democrats on Primary Day to vote for the Republican-endorsed candidates, including Vasilios Lefkaditis for supervisor, June Springer and Dennis Cyr for town council, and Traci Schanz for clerk.

 

Westerlo

Westerlo has 2,255 registered voters of which 947 are Democrats, 494 are Republicans, 569 are unaffiliated with any party, and the rest belong to small parties.

Conservative voters in Westerlo — there are 78 — will have an opportunity to ballot for supervisor and for town clerk. No names appear on the ballot. The top boxes are gray; voters may write in one name each for supervisor and clerk.

The same is true for the 144 Independence Party members in Westerlo. They will have an opportunity to ballot with the top boxes blanked out in gray and a space to write in one name each for supervisor and clerk.

In November, William Bichteman is running for Westerlo supervisor on the Democratic line and Dorothy Verch is running on the Republican line. Wendy Shelburne is running on the Republican line for town clerk while Kathleen Spinnato is running for clerk on the Democratic line.

More Regional News

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  • “We’ll start small and we’ll work our way up,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. “I firmly believe, if we can knock off a lot of the low-level stuff, a lot of the big stuff will take care of itself. And we want the criminals to know you are not welcome in the city of Albany.”

  • “Data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some populations and placed them at higher risk, including those who are medically underserved, racial and ethnic minority groups, and people living in rural communities,” says the CDC, which awarded the state’s health department $34 million to address inequities.

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