GOP slate expects to clinch nomination after write-in campaign

Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia
Holding a ballot, Berne Highway Superintendent Randy Bashwinger awaits results on election night two years ago, which he narrowly won. Bashwinger and other Berne Republicans campaigned to have their nominees win the Independence Party line on Tuesday through write-in votes, and appeared to have done so.

HILLTOWNS — Nearly all nominations for the Independence Party went to write-ins candidates in the towns of Berne and Knox, according to unofficial Albany County Board of Election results following Tuesday’s primary elections. After conducting a write-in campaign, both towns’ Republican nominees expect to have won those spots.

The Albany County Board of Elections expects to have final results within 10 days, a representative said.


Berne Republican nominees won about half of the Conservative nominations, including for supervisor, highway superintendent, and a town-council seat; other spots went to those on the Democratic slate.

In Berne, there were 29 write-in votes for the Independence Party nomination for town supervisor, or 74 percent; there were 10 votes for incumbent Kevin Crosier, a Democrat who was endorsed by the county Independence Party, or 26 percent. Copies of write-in ballots (which are still unofficial, according to the county board of elections) show Republican Sean Lyons taking all of the write-in votes.

For town council, about two-thirds of the votes went to write-candidates rather than the Democratic candidates who had been endorsed by the party; and three-quarters of the votes for town clerk also went to a write-in rather than the incumbent Democrat, also nominated by the Independence Party.

Copies of the write-in ballots show the majority of the write-in votes going to candidates running on the Republican line.

The only Republican endorsed by the Independence Party, incumbent highway superintendent Randy Bashwinger, won the nomination by about 83 percent, or 33 votes.

Bashwinger, who is also also the chairman of Berne’s Republican Party, said that he and others running on the town’s Republican line had been campaigning door-to-door for the nomination, handing out sample ballots with their candidates’ names to be written in. He expects that those on the Republican slate took every nomination for the Independence Party.

Bashwinger emphasized that the town Republican Party has endorsed a mixed slate of candidates this year, including Democrats and Independence Party members.

“You’ve got a mixture of people showing they can work together,” he said.

Bashwinger said that this is also the first time he can recall that the town Republicans have campaigned for a primary, saying that he felt it was important to get these small party lines in a place like the Hilltowns.

Crosier, while emphasizing that the results are not yet known, said that he was not concerned about losing both the Conservative and Independence Party nominations.

“The major party lines are where you win your elections,” said Crosier, who has been endorsed by the town’s Democratic Party. In 2001 and 2005, Crosier, who is enrolled as a Democrat, ran and won on the Republican line, and then declined to run for re-election in 2009. He later ran to complete the third term of a resigning supervisor in 2012 on the Conservative, Independence, and Democratic Party lines; he ran on the same lines to keep his seat in 2013.

In Berne, 44 percent of voters are enrolled as Democrats; 18 percent are enrolled as Republicans; 4 percent are Conservatives; 6 percent are in the Independence Party; and 26 percent are not enrolled in any party.


Enterprise file photo — H. Rose Schneider
Awaiting results, Knox Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis and Councilwoman Amy Pokorny chat before the Democratic Caucus in July. Pokorny won the nomination by 17
votes, and had been endorsed by the Independence Party before Tuesday's primary. But Lefkaditis appears to have won the nomination through write-in votes after campaigning only a few days before the primary election.



“I’m just as surprised as you are,” said Gary Salisbury, the town’s Republican chairman. Salisbury is the only candidate running, uncontested, on both Democrat and Republican lines.

While Lefkaditis said that Knox Republicans and their nominees had also conducted a write-in campaign, passing out ballots with their candidates’ names on them, Salisbury said there was little organization to do so as a group, though he had heard some individual candidates intended to campaign before the primary.

Lefkaditis said he began campaigning with the ballots this past Saturday, adding, “Campaigning is last on my list” of other priorities.

In Knox, 31 votes were written in for the Independence Party nominee for supervisor, 0r 70 percent; 13 votes were cast for Democrat Councilwoman Amy Pokorny, or 30 percent. Pokorny had been endorsed by the county’s Independence Party. Copies of the ballots (which are unofficial) show Knox Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis, an enrolled Democrat running on the Republican line, written in for all 31 votes.

Three-quarters of the votes for town council seats were write-ins, or 60 votes total. Of those, 32 were written in for Kenneth Saddlemire, a Democrat, and 28 were written for Karl Pritchard, who is not enrolled in a party; both are running on the Republican line. Incumbent Daniel Hanley, a Democrat, received 12 votes, or 15 percent; and challenger Brett Pulliam, who is not in any party but was endorsed by town Democrats, received 9 votes, or 11 percent.

Challengers Traci Schanz and Timothy Francis were not endorsed by the Independence Party, but each won over half the votes. Schanz, who is running for town clerk, was able to put her name on the ballot because she is enrolled in the Independence Party; and Francis, an enrolled Republican, was able to have his name on the ballot because he is running for town justice; town justice candidates are allowed to be on the ballot without endorsement. Both Schanz and Francis are endorsed by the Knox Republican Party.

Salisbury attributed the apparent upset to the variety of parties the Republican nominees are enrolled in. Besides Francis, he himself is the only Republican on the GOP slate.

“I think that’s what helps them out, it’s not a one-party slate,” said Salisbury.

In Knox, 37 percent of residents are enrolled as Democrats, and 24 percent are enrolled as Republicans; 28 percent are not enrolled in any party, 4 percent are Conservatives and 7 percent are in the Independence Party.

Lefkaditis described the county Independence Party committee as five “out of touch people” “sitting in Albany,” who had endorsed his opponent for the nomination.

“The Knox voters should have a say, not Albany,” he said.

The Enterprise contacted the Albany County Independence Party but has not heard back before press time.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll do better in the November elections,” said Pokorny.

Pokorny said that she believes the small-party primaries are significant to the election, and it was important to be engaged with the those enrolled in third parties.

“I think they worked hard to get their voters to go out and vote that way,” she said, of the Republicans’ write-in campaign.

She added that she felt she and her running mates would have to work hard to win the election in November, but was hopeful they would do so.

“As far as what we need to do,” she said. “I think we need to reach out to the voters.”

The unofficial election results can be found online at:




berne write-ins.pdf




More Hilltowns News

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.