Uncontested election features two new board members and returning supervisor and clerk

RENSSELAERVILLE — As it was in 2019, so it is again in 2021: Rensselaerville’s election was completely uncontested, meaning all candidates endorsed by a party have made their way into or stayed in office. 

Supervisor John Dolce, a Democrat, ran for re-election on the Democratic, Conservative, and Republican lines. He won 461 votes, with four people writing in for someone else.

Clerk Victoria Kraker also sought re-election on those same lines, and received 484 votes, with three people writing in.

Political newcomers Edward Van Auken and Peter Sommerville ran for town board on both the Republican and Conservative lines, to replace Deputy Supervisor Jason Rauf, a Republican who ran instead for highway superintendent, and Marion Cooke, a Conservative, who is retiring.

Van Auken received 367 votes and Sommerville received 342. Eleven people wrote in. 

Rauf, for highway superintendent, received 387 votes with six people writing in.

Only Rauf and Sommerville could be reached by The Enterprise for a pre-election interview this week. Rauf’s responses were reported in a separate profile earlier this month. 

 

Dolce

Dolce, a Queens native, was appointed supervisor in 2018 to replace former Supervisor Steven Pfleging who resigned after he was charged with grand larceny for stealing more than $13,000 from the town (he later pleaded guilty to petit larceny).

Dolce was first elected to the post in 2019. Before he was appointed supervisor, Dolce was a councilman, a post to which he was also initially appointed, in 2016. 

He’s the owner of several businesses that share the name Town Line and also owns Shepard Farms, in Westerlo, which is leasing land to a solar company that installed two large arrays there, to the chagrin of some residents in that town. 

Altogether, Dolce’s board has been mostly reactive, dealing with issues as they arise. He told The Enterprise in 2016 that he is “not really into politics.” 

The supervisor makes $16,500 annually. 

 

Sommerville

Sommerville, a Republican who turned 68 the day after the election, told The Enterprise this week that he originally wanted to run for highway superintendent, having experience in construction, but decided he didn’t want to run against Rauf.

Instead, he’s running for town board as a way to “get a little more involved in the town,” he said, adding, “I wish I had something a little more exciting to say.”

This will be his first time in elected office. Besides the 22 years he spent in construction, Sommerville spent 20 years as a charter boat captain on the Great Lakes. He also farms, he said.

On the town board, Sommerville said he wants to keep the town on the path it’s on, since he doesn’t see many pressing concerns.

“I’m not going into it with any great goals,” he said. “I think the town is in pretty good shape, and I want to keep it that way.”

Instead of an agenda, Sommerville is running on values. 

“I know it sounds pretty basic and stupid, but I just want to do what’s right, regardless of party affiliation,” he said, “ … I want to make decisions that are informed by logic and common sense.”

Councilmembers in Rensselaerville make $4,000 annually. 

 

Kraker

Kraker was first elected as town clerk in 2013, and before that had been town justice and court clerk. 

“I love the clerk’s job,” she told The Enterprise in 2017. “I love helping people ... It’s a small town so you have that personal touch. You see people face-to-face and ask, ‘How is your mom doing?’”

At the time, Kraker, who has an associate’s degree in computer science from Columbia-Greene Community College, was a self-employed farrier, meaning she put shoes on horses, along with other hoof-related tasks. She said her goal for the past four years was going to be to make various town processes more efficient and organized.

A full-time employee, the Rensselaerville clerk earns $36,720 annually.

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