Berne GOP names candidates, incumbent judges decline nomination

Enterprise file photo — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Alan Zuk, four years ago, was sworn in for another term as town justice with the help of his wife, Mildred, and their 6-year-old granddaughter, Rebecca.

BERNE — The Berne Republican Committee has named its candidates for this year’s election, less two town justices who declined the nomination. 

Incumbent justices Alan Zuk and Albert Raymond were nominated by the GOP after having already been nominated by the Democratic and Conservative parties. Zuk is a Democrat and Raymond is a Conservative, according to county voter rolls.

Zuk, who was appointed to the position in 2012 and has since been re-elected twice, told The Enterprise that he’s declined GOP nominations in the past.

“Just being consistent, I declined it again this time,” Zuk said. When asked if the decision was related to ideology, Zuk said yes, adding, “I’m a Democrat.”

“We take the high road,” Zuk said, referring to himself and Raymond. “We’re judicial candidates. We’re slightly removed from the political fray.” 

When The Enterprise noted that declining a political party nomination could be interpreted as a political act, Zuk said, “Well, I declined in the past and I declined it this time, so that’s my statement.”

Zuk had served Berne as a town justice for four years before being elected supervisor in 1985. He served in that post for 16 years before being ousted by Kevin Crosier, a Democrat who challenged Zuk on the GOP line and won. Crosier now chairs Berne’s Democratic committee.

Raymond could not be reached for comment. 

Meanwhile, the GOP will not be replacing Raymond and Zuk with other candidates, and it’s framing the matter on social media as Democratic hypocrisy, owing to the fact that Democrats have been erecting signs that promote cooperation within the town. 

“Alan Zuk would have never accepted it anyway,” Albany County GOP Chairman and former Berne Republican Party Chairman Randy Bashwinger told The Enterprise. “We just figured that we’d try working together with them. The big signs [put up by Democrats] that say ‘Berne working together’ are kind of a joke.

“From what I understand,” Bashwinger said, “they were told that they are not allowed to accept the nomination from the Republicans.” 

Crosier denied that candidates were instructed to turn down nominations. 

Of the absence of candidates for justice, Bashwinger said that the party “isn’t really going to focus on it,” and that Zuk and Raymond are the “right candidates for the positions, and that’s one of the reasons we were going to cross-endorse them, because we don’t necessarily need to fill those spots for change. They’re two good candidates.

“It’s just very sad to see, but that’s politics,” Bashwinger said. “... It should be about the people and not the party.” 

Altogether, the Berne Republican Party nominated:

— Town board member Dennis Palow for town supervisor;

— Town board member Leo Vane for town board;

— Tom Doolin for town board;

— Town Clerk Anita Clayton for town board; and

— Incumbent Randy Bashwinger for highway superintendent.

More Hilltowns News

  • The 37-acre, 5-megawatt solar project proposed by RIC Energy received conditional approval from the Knox Planning Board last month as the town board works to negotiate a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement among the company, the county, and the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District.

  • The farmers’ market, which features a wide variety of vendors from the Hilltowns and beyond, will continue to be held each Wednesday through most of October from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Helderberg Lutheran Church, in Berne. 

  • In addition to $1 billion invested nationwide by the federal government, New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey announced a $5 million meat processing expansion grant, which aims to empower New York residents to open up meat-processing facilities at a time when farmers are reportedly having trouble finding any.

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