Dem party chair's hospitalization led to early caucus

— Photo submitted by Jean Cataldo

Proper notification: This sworn affidavit shows that the Democratic Town Clerk, Jean Cataldo, posted notifications about the July 23 caucus in 17 different locations up to two weeks before it occurred. Enterprise letter writers have complained about not being notified.

GUILDERLAND — The town’s Democratic Committee moved its caucus ahead by several weeks this year because its chairman was in serious condition in the hospital.

Several residents, in letters to the Enterprise editor, expressed concern over the date of the caucus being changed without proper notification.

Kathy Burbank, who had hoped to get the Guilderland Democratic Committee’s nod as the candidate for supervisor, wrote, “Then, to my surprise, the event was changed without any notification; moved up three weeks to July 23.”

“All Democrats in the town are supposed to be notified by the Democratic Committee,” she wrote.

Barry Uznitsky, who wrote in a letter to the editor this week that he has been a member of the Guilderland Democratic Committee since the 1970s, said he had been used to getting a telephone call or a letter about the caucus, and, in more recent years, an e-mail.

Uznitsky said he was not aware of this year’s caucus until reading Burbank’s letter in the Aug. 6 Enterprise.

“I am extremely disappointed and upset that the Guilderland Democratic Party leadership did not provide proper notification to its members about the caucus,” Uznitsky wrote.

He speculated that the committee intentionally declined to notify party members because “there were several positions that were being contested this year” and that the leadership might want to include only members who would “follow their direction.”

Other members of the Democratic committee, including candidates, said the real reason for the change in date was Chairman Dave Bosworth’s illness and subsequent hospitalization.

Peter Barber, the chairman of the town’s zoning board and the Democratic candidate for town supervisor, said Bosworth had been in the hospital since the end of May.

“It is my understanding that he made it clear he wanted the caucus to be held while he was still around,” said Barber, who noted that Bosworth’s condition was “grave” when he was admitted to the hospital, although he is stable now.

Albany Medical Center would not confirm this week whether Bosworth was a patient there.

Jacob Crawford, vice chairman of the committee, was put in charge of organizing the event, which is traditionally held in conjunction with one of the Thursday night concerts at the Guilderland Performing Arts Center in Tawasentha Park.

He, along with other committee members, chose Thursday, July 23.

Jean Cataldo, the town clerk, who is also a Democrat, said there is a minimum requirement of 10 notifications for a caucus.

She posted 17 notifications herself, at several eateries in Stuyvesant Plaza, Stewart’s shops throughout Guilderland and Altamont, the Guilderland Center Post Office, the Altamont Free Library, Altamont Village Hall, and more.

There was also a notice posted at the Albany County Board of Elections headquarters, confirmed by Heidi Connors, a board of elections employee.

The notices were posted between July 8 and July 13. The last notice was posted 10 days before the event.

“We followed the rules set forth by the New York State Election Law,” said Cataldo.

“I’d be very surprised if anyone in tune with town politics was not aware of this,” said Barber. “Much more than the minimum requirement was met.”

Cataldo said that Burbank’s assertion that every Democrat in town should have been notified about the date of the caucus was wrong.

“That would be impossible,” said Cataldo. “It would be foolish; the cost would be exorbitant.”

Notification of every enrolled Democrat in town was never done in the past, she said.

The only thing about the caucus that changed this year was the date, she said.

Kenneth Runion, the current Democratic town supervisor, who will be retiring when his term ends, said he went to the caucus and thought it was as well attended as any other year.

There are usually anywhere from 60 to 100 attendees in any given year, he said.

The candidates chosen were those announced by the party in early June: Barber for supervisor, and Al Maikels and Rosemary Centi for town board.

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