Reidy trumps Wickham, Cleary v. Miller too close to call

Enterprise file photo — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

At the Guilderland Democratic caucus in April, Dustin Reidy, left, shakes hands with John Bailey. Bailey won the Conservative primary for town justice.

GUILDERLAND — In Tuesday’s Democratic primary, the race between Mickey Cleary and incumbent Paul Miller who represents District 32 in the Albany County Legislature is too close to call.

The tally, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday night by the Albany County Board of Elections, is 291 for Cleary to 269 for Miller, with nine write-in votes.

Miller said that the list from the board of elections he had been sent on Wednesday morning showed 56 absentee ballots had been sent out and so far 39 had been returned — more than the 22-vote margin putting Cleary ahead. Cleary said the absentee ballots will be counted on July 2.

In Guilderland’s District 30, Dustin Reidy had a clear victory over Steven Wickham. Reidy garnered 319 votes, just over 60 percent, to Wickham’s 206 votes or 39 percent.

Both men are progressive liberals, and each was making his first run for office. The Westmere district had been represented by Bryan Clenahan, who left at the end of 2018 to become a Guilderland town judge, with one year remaining in his term. Charles D. Cahill Jr. was appointed to fill out Clenahan’s term but is not seeking re-election.

In November, Reidy will face Peter Golden who is running on the Republican line to represent District 30. Golden is an author and former Guilderland School Board member.

Reidy, 39, worked in issue advocacy and has helped manage and run voter outreach and election campaigns.

Reidy founded NY19Votes after the 2016 election to help bring together and train new activists that formed through the Women’s March and Indivisible movement. Reidy has said that NY19Votes was a “big part” of helping Democrat Antonio Delgado beat Republican John Faso in New York’s 19th Congressional District. Reidy also served as campaign manager to Democrat Pat Strong in her unsuccessful bid last year to unseat Republican incumbent George Amedore in the State Senate’s District 46.

Asked to what he attributed his primary victory, Reidy said on Wednesday, “I knocked on doors with volunteers from Feb. 26 to 7:30, 8 o’clock last night.”

Wickham, too, said, in a recent letter to the Enterprise editor, that he had personally met nearly 1,000 residents of Westmere, and both candidates had submitted petitions with 500 signatures.

“He’s an incredibly classy opponent and friend,” Reidy said of Wickham, who could not be reached for comment. “I don’t think any two candidates in the county worked as hard as we did.”

In his campaigning in Westmere, Reidy said, he learned “development is the number-one issue out there.”

If he’s elected in the fall, Reidy said, “I want to do more to bring government to voters … I’d love to have town halls on a regular basis.”

He also wants to empower residents to “connect with one another and learn to mobilize so their voices are heard.”

He cited the residents of Westmere Terrace — a large complex is proposed for the end of their street by Pyramid, owners of Crossgates Mall. “They did a great job organizing themselves to push back on what Pyramid is proposing,” he said.

Reidy concluded, “Everyone agrees residents should have a larger say in shaping Westmere and Guilderland.”

On Tuesday, The Enterprise received several emails and several phone calls from people purporting to be from various news organizations, pushing a fabricated story about the District 30 race with links to 4chan, an imageboard website known for pranks. A headshot of Wickham was posted on the site with the question, “Can we meme this guy into local office?”

The post went on, “This guy is a liberal sure, but he actually has some common sense. He’s against all of the stuff his Carpet bagger opponent Reedy [sic] wants to do, like injection sites … Perhaps the WAPO will pick up a hoax story we make of ‘russian trolls.’”

One of the emails from someone using the same name as a man who later called The Enterprise claiming falsely to be from the New York Press Association, said, “Users from Italy and Ukraine can also be seen discussing how to set up spam robocalls and DDS bots to sabotage the Steve Wickham campaign.”

Rachel Bledi, the Republican Albany County election commissioner, said on Tuesday, “I can imagine that no one in those countries could care less about county legislature races in Albany County. We get stuff like that from time to time but we just ignore it; you can tell it’s written by somebody with mental-health issues.”

Reidy said on Wednesday that four young men were at the Side Door Café Tuesday night as the Guilderland Democratic Committee Chairman Jake Crawford was reading off the election results and, when it was clear that Reidy had won, “One guy pounded his fist on the table” and shouted an obscenity.

“I’m 99 percent sure they threw something at me,” said Reidy who remembered one of the names as the same used by an Enterprise caller.

“I have no idea who these people are,” he said.

Tuesday’s primary also allowed members of the Independence Party to write in candidates for District 30; there were six write-in votes but the county’s board of elections said on Wednesday those names are not yet available. Guilderland has 1,265 Independence Party members.


District 32

Mickey Cleary, 57, who has spent his career in public administration, is making his first run for office, although he has been a Guilderland committeeman for 28 years. He also serves on the town’s planning board.

Both he and Miller are lifelong Guilderland residents and Guilderland High School graduates.

“It was a clean race,” said Cleary on Wednesday morning. “Paul’s a great guy.”

Asked why he did so well against an incumbent, Cleary said, “I was backed by the town of Guilderland and the Guilderland [Democratic] committee … I did all my work. I did everything I needed to do.”

Miller, who has represented District 30 for four years, had initially told the town’s Democratic chairman he would not be seeking re-election because, he told The Enterprise, his stepson was very sick over the summer. But, when his stepson’s condition improved, he decided he wanted to run after all.

By then, Cleary was invested in his own campaign, which Miller had helped him launch.

Miller said on Wednesday afternoon, “I’m disappointed.”

“We both worked hard,” he said of himself and Cleary, “but he won at this point.”

Miller, 65, ran on his record and was especially proud of three bills he sponsored, which were passed into law, to protect people from tobacco.

Miller is retired from a career with the state’s Department of Labor. He has been a volunteer with the Bethlehem Fire Department for 50 years, leads a Boy Scout troop, and is a member of the Albany County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

He was a sponsor of the recently defeated paid-sick-leave bill and voted in favor of it.

Cleary, who works in operations for the state’s Office of Court Administration, said during his campaign that he wants to “bring new and transparent representation to the 32nd District.”

He believes drug treatment courts are important and would like to see Albany County pursue an opiate court.


Town judge

In the Conservative Party primary, John W. Bailey, a Guilderland town justice since 2003, trounced Stephen R. Chesley, a Republican who will challenge Bailey in November.

Bailey got 86 percent of the vote to Chesley’s 13 percent; the tally was 83 to 12 with one write-in vote.

Guilderland has 521 Conservative voters.

Bailey graduated from the University at Albany and Albany Law School, and is an attorney at Bailey, Kelleher, and Johnson, P.C.

Bailey wrote in a letter to Conservative Party voters before the primary, “The first obligation of a judge is to preside over a courtroom fairly and impartially. I am confident I have met this critical obligation.”

Chesley, who made his first run for town justice last year, coming in second in a three-way race, graduated from New York University and New York Law School. He works as in-house counsel for AmTrust.

Chesley’s name was also on the ballot for the Working Families Party line of which Guilderland has 50 members. Chesly got one vote while there were two write-in votes. Since the names for the write-in votes are not yet available, it is unclear who secured the Working Family Parties line. 

Chesley told The Enterprise the week before the primary, “I’m really looking to appeal to any and all voters.” He noted that the town-justice post is “judicial and not political.”

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