Dems dominate in Guilderland small-party primaries

GUILDERLAND — The Republican challengers for town board did solidly in the Conservative and Independence party primaries in Guilderland Tuesday, but were bested by the Democratic incumbents.

Supervisor Peter Barber was a clear winner over Republican challenger Brian K. Forte, while the council member races were closer. “We’re thrilled with the outcome in both primaries,” Barber said Wednesday morning.

Douglass Breakell, chairman of Guilderland’s Republican Committee, said, “I congratulate the winners of the Conservative and Independence primaries and am moving on to November.”

There are 512 enrolled Conservative voters in Guilderland, and 1,314 in the Independence Party.

Barber said that he and the two Democratic council members who were up for re-election, Patricia Slavick and Paul C. Pastore, had knocked on “several hundred doors” and had gotten a warm reception from residents who were happy with the improvements that have been made over the past 18 months since Barber took office, and with the incumbents’ efforts to make local government in Guilderland “even more transparent than it has been,” Barber said.

He had heard from residents, Barber said, that they were happy with the new town zoning code and “the development that is going on in terms of the abandoned buildings, and empty spaces.” Barber cited the development of the hotel at Crossgates Mall, which included the demolition of an abandoned house, and the approval of a project that will convert a hotel across from the University at Albany into an assisted-living facility.

“People like to see progress,” Barber said, adding, “The town has also been mindful of traffic, and in particular traffic on Western Avenue.”

Patricia Slavick and Paul C. Pastore appear to have beaten their two Conservative Party challengers, in both primaries. Final results in all of the contests will not be available from the Albany County Board of Elections for another 10 days.

In the Conservative Party primary, Barber won 111 votes, or 67.68 percent, according to unofficial results posted by the Albany County Board of Elections, while there were 53 write-in votes, which is equivalent to 32.32 percent. Forte had petitioned for an opportunity to ballot, meaning it is unlikely the write-in votes are for him.

For council seats, Conservative voters could cast their ballots for two candidates. Incumbent Patricia Slavick got 93 votes, or 27.27 percent, and incumbent Paul C. Pastore got 88, or 25.81 percent.

Conservative Party member and challenger Michele L. Coons got 78 votes, or 22.87 percent, while fellow Conservative Party member and challenger Katherine L. Burbank got 71, or 20.82 percent. As party members, Coons’s and Burbank’s names each appeared on the ballot.

In addition, there were 11, or 3.23 percent, write-in votes — presumably for other people, not appearing on the ballot, although if all 11 of those write-in votes turn out to have been cast for Coons, she will be found to have beaten Pastore.

In the Independence Party primary, Peter Barber received 75 votes, or 57.69 percent, while there were 55 write-in votes, or 42.31 percent. On this ballot, too, Forte was an opportunity-to-ballot candidate, and voters wishing to vote for him needed to write in his name.

In the Independence Party’s vote for council members, Slavick received 77 votes, or 29.84 percent, while Pastore got 70, or 27.13 percent. There were a total of 111 write-in votes, or 43.02 percent.

There were two write-in lines on the ballot, and voters could vote for two candidates, so it seems likely that the 111 votes were split more or less evenly between Coons and Burbank, although if either of them received at least 71 votes, that candidate would have beaten Pastore.

Barber said that the approach of Guilderland’s local government under his leadership has been to remain “positive and upbeat” and to work steadily to improve the quality of life for residents, whether with small changes that only benefit a few people, or with more expansive changes.

Breakell said, “I think now the real race begins, when we’re not just limited to the voters of those two parties, but we can get our message out to all the voters in Guilderland, and I’m confident that that message will resonate with them.”

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