Bunzey and Brady to run on Dem line

The Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider
Berne Democratic chairman and town tax collector, Gerald O’Malley, left, confers with party secretary and town assessor Melanie Bunzey and Democratic Commissioner for the Albany County Board of Elections Matthew Clyne.

BERNE — At Wednesday’s Democratic caucus, Frank Brady and Brian Bunzey were given the nod to run as councilmen for the Berne Town Board in November.

The two Democrats bested two other nominees, Tim Lippert, also a Democrat and former town building inspector, and Mathew Harris, who is not enrolled in a party. Harris is already running on the Republican line for town council.

The event, which lasted a little over half an hour, remained cordial even as nominations were made. Paper ballots were cast into lobster pots by the 70 or so Democrats who attended the caucus in the Berne firehouse.

Of the 2,062 registered voters in Berne, about 43 percent are Democrats, 19 percent are Republicans, 27 percent are not affiliated, and the rest are enrolled in small parties.

Of the approximately 70 ballots cast at the July 24 caucus, Bunzey received 60 votes; Brady received 55; Lippert received 12; and Harris received 7.

Democrats also nominated incumbents Christine Valachovic and Brian Crawford for town assessors. The two Democrats are running on the Republican line as well, and have no opponents.

After decades of Democratic domination on the town board, Berne Republicans made inroads in the last town election, in 2017, electing a Republican supervisor and councilman. The Democrats kept their majority by a single vote, with the election of Joel Willsey.

Last Wednesday’s Democratic primary was held the day before names had to be filed with the Albany County Board of Elections.

The Berne Republicans, who held their caucus months ago, in March, selected Harris as well as Conservative Bonnie Conklin to run for town board. Around the same time, the two current Democratic town board members, Dawn Jordan and Karen Schimmer, announced they were not going to run for reelection.

Bunzey, a maintenance technician at Hannay Reels in Westerlo, is married to town assessor Melanie Bunzey; she ran successfully for a second four-year term in 2017. She also served as secretary at the caucus.

Brady, a retired state employee and former union vice president for the Civil Service Employees Association, ran two years ago as a Democrat on the Republican line for town council.

Brady told the Enterprise in 2017 that the Berne GOP offered him a spot on the ballot after the Democratic Party chose Willsey. He lost the 2017 election by one vote to Willsey. At Wednesday night’s caucus, Willsey seconded Brady’s nomination.

Brady declined to comment on his decision to run with the Democrats this year, but he and Bunzey both said they were happy to receive the party’s nod.

More Hilltowns News

  • Berne-Knox-Westerlo Superintendent Bonnie Kane is in her first month in that role, having previously served as the district’s high school principal for two years and as an English teacher before that. 

  • The former Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville has reorganized itself as Hilltown Commons, with new leadership that aims to ditch the “heady” and “highfalutin’” ideals of the globally-oriented not-for-profit, as the de facto executive Virginia Thomson put it, in favor of a grassroots approach to social betterment. 

  • In a 3-to-2 vote, the Westerlo Town Board got rid of the town’s planning board — which Supervisor Matt Kryzak has described as “rogue” — despite opposition from residents and the Albany County Planning Board.

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