Rensselaerville’s uncontested 2021 election is virtually over and done with

The Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider
Town Clerk Victoria Kraker swears in Supervisor John Dolce in 2018. Both candidates are seeking re-election this year, and, like the town’s three other candidates for public office, they are doing so without opposition.

RENSSELAERVILLE — November has come early in Rensselaerville, with the 2021 election all but decided after the local Democratic party selected two candidates already endorsed by other parties and left three ballot lines vacant. 

July 26 was the last day party leaders could submit nominees to their county board of elections if candidates were not selected during a June primary. 

Five seats total are up for grabs in the town government: supervisor, town clerk, two town board seats, and highway superintendent. 

The Democratic Party endorsed incumbent John Dolce, a Democrat, for supervisor, and incumbent Victoria Kraker, a Democrat, for town clerk. Both are also endorsed by the Conservative and Republican parties. 

Dolce was appointed supervisor in December 2018 after the former supervisor, Steve Pfleging, was arrested for grand larceny. Dolce had served on the town board since 2016. The owner of a self-storage service, auto repair shop, and motorsports store, Dolce also purchased the defunct Westerlo resort Shepard Farm and leases the land to host solar arrays.

Town board member Jason Rauf, a Republican, is running for highway superintendent on the Conservative and Republican lines.

Randall Bates, who has been Rensselaerville’s highway superintendent for a decade, is not seeking re-election.When Rauf first ran for town board in 2017, he said his work as a mechanic for the town of Coeymans made him familiar with the operation of a town highway department.

Peter Somerville, who does not appear in voter enrollment records obtained earlier this month from the Albany County Board of Elections, is running for town board on the same two lines, as is Edward VanAuken, a Republican. 

They’ll replace Rauf and Conservative Marion Cooke, neither of whom are seeking re-election to those positions. Cooke has served three four-year terms as a councilwoman.

The Democratic Party Chairman, Hébert Joseph, could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Rensselaerville’s last election, in 2019, was also uncontested, which town board member and then-candidate Brian Wood told The Enterprise might relate to the low salaries for the mostly part-time positions.

“When you look at the smaller towns, you tend to see some more uncontested races,” he said in 2019. “It’s a combination of lack of interest, and nobody does anything for free anymore … The positions are not overly well-compensated.

“That’s part of the reason salaries are going up, maybe to spark some interest,” Wood continued, contrasting the Rensselaerville elected positions with those of Guilderland and New Scotland, some of which are full-time. “With this, it’s kind of like volunteering.”

Rensselaerville’s 2021 budget set aside $16,000 for the four town board members, breaking down to a $4,000 annual salary per person. The supervisor, who on top of regular town board tasks is responsible for crafting the annual budget, will make $16,500 this year.

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