All seats in Berne election contested

BERNE — Every seat up for election in Berne is contested this year.

Republicans and Democrats each nominated a full slate of candidates at their caucuses over the past month, including positions for town supervisor, highway superintendent, and the town board.

According to Randy Bashingwinger, the Berne Republican Party chairman and town highway superintendent, the party has endorsed:

— Sean Lyons, enrolled as a Republican, for town supervisor;

— Frank Brady, enrolled as a Democrat, and Dennis Palow, enrolled as a Republican, for town board;

— William Keal, enrolled as a Republican, for town clerk;

— Rick Otto, enrolled as a Republican, and Mary Alice Molgard, enrolled as a Democrat, for town justice;

— Joanne Brady, enrolled as a Democrat, for tax collector;

— Kim Collins, enrolled in the Independence Party, and Jen Wright, enrolled as a Democrat, for town assessor; and

— Bashwinger for re-election as highway superintendent.

“We had to look outside the box,” said Bashwinger, of the town’s Republican Committee. “They all want to work together, it’s not about Republican ideals.”

Bashwinger said the party’s goal is to improve the town, and to gain more positions in Berne’s government.

“We’ve got very few Republicans elected,” he said. Currently, Bashwinger is the only Republican in elected office for Berne. In Berne, 44 percent of voters are enrolled as Democrats, while 18 percent are enrolled as Republicans.

He noted that many of the nominees volunteer within their community. Lyons, for example, volunteers for the Veterans Miracle Center, a not-for-profit in Albany, said Bashwinger.

According Berne Democratic Party chairman and town tax collector, Gerald O’Malley, the party has endorsed an all-Democratic slate, made up of:

—  Incumbent Kevin Crosier for supervisor;

—  Joel Willsey, a newcomer seeking the post, and Jim Cook, who was appointed this year after councilman Wayne Emory resigned Jan. 31, for town board;

— Incumbent Anita Clayton for town clerk;

— Incumbents Albert Raymond and Alan Zuk for town justice;

— O’Malley, the incumbent, for tax collector;

— Incumbents Brian Crawford and Melanie Bunzey for town assessor; and

—  Ronald Shultes for highway superintendent.

Joseph Golden, a Democrat and current member of the all-Democrat town board, will not be running for re-election. Willsey, who has clashed with Bashwinger in the past, will instead run for his seat.

Golden, who will have served 16 years on the town board by the end of his term in January, said his age and the fact he would like to participate in other activities were reasons he will not run for re-election. He said he was confident that Cook and Willsey, whom he said both received a large number of votes at the caucus, would do well on the board.

“Jim Cook’s excellent,” he said. “Joel is new to the job, but I’m sure that he’ll also do well.”

O’Malley said that the turnout for the caucus held this week had over 200 people attending.

More Hilltowns News

  • The attorney representing three Berne residents who feel the town’s purchase of the 100-acre Switzkill Farm was illegitimate said earlier this month that he was seeking an unspecified document that he thought would give him leverage in an out-of-court settlement.

  • Christopher Lewis is alleged to have stolen more than $2,500 worth of items from the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District, including a television, several laptops, and a stereo system.

  • Knox Planning Board Member Debra Nelson suddenly left a March meeting that she was attending remotely before she could cast her vote on whether to override the county planning board’s recommendation against a proposed solar facility.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.