New Scotland Dem committee election: A partial success for challengers

Holly Cargill Cramer kept her seat in District 1, which she has held for a few months. “I practice radical candor,” she said.

NEW SCOTLAND — The New Scotland Democratic Committee will have three new members, while the top vote-getter in the most recent town board election lost his seat, according to unofficial primary results from the Albany Board of Election.

The committee has two members for each of eight election districts. Thursday was the first time a primary had been forced to challenge sitting committee members. Eight seats were at play.

Lisa Williams and Susan Derda topped incumbents Carol Cootware and Ashley Cootware in the second electoral district, while newcomer Kim Verner received more votes than Daniel Leinung in the third district; Douglas Miller, the committee’s chairman, kept his seat in the third district.

Committee incumbents Holly Cargill Cramer, Douglas LaGrange, Deborah M. Engel, and Herbert W. Reilly all turned back challenges from candidates recruited by Vicky Plotsky, who represents 38th District in the Albany County Legislature; Williams, Derda, and Verner were also recruited by Plotsky.

Plotsky, on vacation in Scotland, emailed the following, when asked for her reaction to the primary’s results:

“I’m very happy for them,” she wrote of the challengers who unseated incumbents. “They all worked very hard trying to meet as many people as possible. Our residents need to know that the Democratic Party is active in town and willing to listen to them … While it’s not my goal to ‘knock off incumbents,’ I believe the committee should be comprised of people who truly want to reach out to our New Scotland  community and get people actively involved.

“I’ve lived here for about 12 years and never heard from the committee in all that time. I hope the newly elected committee members will help with outreach to Dems in town,” she wrote.

In last year’s Democratic primary, in her first bid for office, Plotsky, running on a platform of reform, won in a landslide over the incumbent, Darrell Duncan who had the backing of the combined Bethlehem and New Scotland Democratic committees.

Asked if the election of challengers would affect how the committee is run, Miller said, “That’s up to the committee and how they want to run it.” A reorganizational meeting is planned within the next few weeks.

In November 2017, in a three-way race for two seats on the town board, Leinung received a little under 41 percent of the vote, besting incumbent Democrat Adam Greenberg, who received just over 37 percent, and Republican Craig A. Shufelt, who received 22 percent of the vote.

“I was disappointed in last night’s results,” Leinung told The Enterprise on Friday. “I’m hoping to keep working for New Scotland on the town board; I’m going to keep my energies focused on that.

“I had a great time on the town committee, and, hopefully, the committee will continue to do good work,” he added.

Down the road, Leinung said, he sees himself running again for a seat on the committee but for the now, he’s focused on the town board and his burgeoning family.

New Scotland has 6,384 registered voters: 38 percent, or 2,432, are Democrats.

In the first electoral district, incumbent Holly Cargill Cramer received 41 votes, about 34 percent of the vote; incumbent Douglas LaGrange received 40 votes, about 33 percent; challenger Leslie Hatfield received 24 votes, about 20 percent; and Lee Greenstein received 15 votes, about 12 percent of the vote.

In the second district, challenger Lisa Williams received 71 votes, about 35 percent of the vote; challenger Susan Derda received 66 votes, about 32 percent; incumbent Carol Cootware received 39 votes, about 19 percent of the vote; and incumbent Ashley Cootware received 28 votes, about 13 percent of the vote.

In the third district, incumbent Douglas Miller received 18 votes, 37.5 percent of the vote; challenger Kim Verner received 17 votes, about 35 percent; and incumbent Leinung received 13 votes, about 27 percent.

In the seventh district, incumbent  Herbert Reilly received 109 votes, about   37 percent of the vote; incumbent Deborah Engel received 102 votes, about 35 percent; challenger Stacey A. Whiteley received 44 votes, about 15 percent of the vote; and challenger Caleb Wistar received 31 votes, about 11 percent.

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