GOP, Dems both hope to fill Bohl’s vacant seat

Enterprise file photo — Elizabeth Floyd Mair
Jacob Crawford, right, and Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber tallied votes on a past election night. Crawford hopes to be nominated on July 25 to run for the Guilderland Town Board on the Democratic ticket in November.

GUILDERLAND — Laurel Bohl made a surprise announcement on July 12 that she was immediately resigning from the Guilderland Town Board.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans in Guilderland this week said they are planning to meet the July 28 deadline set by State Election Law to place a nominee on the November ballot to fill the vacated seat.

The remaining four town board members, like Bohl and like nearly half the voters in Guilderland, are Democrats.

Bohl, who was elected in 2019, beat the only Republican remaining on the board. In that election, a three-way race for two seats, Democratic Councilwoman Rosemary Centi got about 44 percent of the vote, Bohl got about 30 percent, and the incumbent Republican councilman, Lee Carman, was ousted with about 26 percent of the vote.

Bohl’s four-year term ends in 2023, so whoever is elected in November would have to run again then to stay on the board.

In the meantime, the state’s Town Law allows the town board to appoint someone to fill the vacancy left by Bohl’s departure with a majority vote.

Asked if the town board planned to fill the vacancy with an appointment, Supervisor Peter Barber said on Tuesday, “This all happened at our last meeting … so, so far there’s been no discussions among board members.”

He noted the town board’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 16 and said nobody had asked to move the meeting earlier.

“This came out of nowhere …,” he said. “I think we’re all still trying to figure out what the next step is.”

 

Democrats

Kathleen Donovan, the Democratic commissioner for the Albany County Board of Elections, said that, according to their party rules, Democrats in the town of Guilderland file petitions and the time to petition is already over; that deadline passed in April.

So now, the county Democratic committee members from Guilderland will meet to choose a nominee.

Jacob Crawford, who chairs both Guilderland’s and Albany County’s Democratic committee, told The Enterprise that the committee members will meet on July 25 at 6 p.m. at the Fort Hunter firehouse.

“It is not a caucus,” said Crawford, referring to a meeting that would allow any enrolled Democrat in town to vote. “The way the election law works … we have until July 28 to fill the seat for the Democratic nominee,” he said.

He later answered an Enterprise question about who was interested in the Democratic nomination in an email, saying, “John Haluska, Kevin McDonald, and myself are interested candidates at this point. Paul Pastore’s name was also suggested as a possible candidate. I don’t want to speak for any of the other candidates. But those names are the possible nominees for the meeting on the 25th.”

John Haluska, a newcomer to Guilderland politics who frequently comments at town board meetings, had put his name forward, in a letter to the Enterprise editor, to be considered for the Democratic nomination.

In an email exchange that Haluska shared with The Enterprise on Tuesday evening, Haluska questioned the fairness of the process since Crawford himself was seeking the nomination.

Crawford responded in the email to Haluska, “I understand your concern. This is the process as set forward in the NYS Election law due to the timing of the vacancy. The meeting must be called by the party chair. A presiding officer and secretary will be nominated and elected at the meeting. I will not be the presiding officer overseeing the nominating and authorization process or the vote that is taken.”

Bohl also wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, still not divulging her reason for resigning, but urging support for Kevin McDonald.

McDonald had partnered with Christine Napierski in the June 2021 Democratic primary — new for Guilderland — which featured a four-way race for two spots where the key issue was development.

Napierski, one of a pair of challengers to the Democratic Committee’s two picks, came in first with 26 percent of the vote. McDonald — one of the Westmere residents who challenged Pyramid’s building projects in court — came in last with 21 percent.

Incumbent Paul Pastore — who was backed by the committee — was ousted with 24 percent of the vote while his running mate, Amanda Beedle, came in second, securing the Democratic line for November, with 25 percent of the vote.

Beedle and Napierski then campaigned together, despite their differences: Napierski had opposed Pyramid’s Costco and apartment complex plans while Beedle, as a member of the planning board, had supported the projects.

The two Democrats bested their Republican challengers to win seats on the town board: Napierski was the top vote-getter with 26 percent; Beedle garnered 23 percent.

While Pastore didn’t actively campaign after the primary, although he had the Conservative line, McDonald did campaign ardently on the Working Families line and was strongly backed by Bohl. He got 7 percent of the vote while Pastore got 4 percent.

 

GOP

Douglas Breakell, who chairs Guilderland’s Republican Committee, said on Tuesday, “We’ve got numerous people that have reached out that are interested.”

He said he couldn’t name the interested people until the nomination process was concluded.

Asked what the Republicans are looking for in a candidate, Breakell said, “Any candidate that’s going to run is going to have the best interests of the town residents.”

Stances on issues, he said, would come out during the campaign.

Breakell went on, “It’s kind of like a fluid situation, right? This just happened. You know, the phone started ringing … but you’ve got to have these discussions.”

Not quite half of Guilderland’s roughly 23,000 registered voters are enrolled as Democrats while about a quarter are enrolled as Republicans; more than a quarter are not enrolled or belong to small parties.

Last November, Republican Brian Sheridan, a pediatrician making his first run for office, came in a surprisingly close third with 21 percent of the vote.

Sheridan garnered more Republican votes than Beedle did Democratic votes. The Conservative Party votes for Beedle then gave her the seat.

Sheridan’s Republican running mate, Amanda Knasel, got 19 percent of the vote. The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, had no small-party lines.

Commissioner Donovan said this week that, for the election to fill Bohl’s seat, if small parties want to have names on the November ballot, the procedure would depend on their rules and she was not sure what they were for each party.

According to State Election Law, July 28 is both the last day for filing a nomination through a town caucus as well as the last day to file a certificate of nomination to fill a vacancy.

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