Interim Hilltown officials confirmed in uncontested elections

Knox Highway Superintendent Matthew Schanz

Knox Highway Superintendent Matthew Schanz

HILLTOWNS — While the nation anxiously awaits more vote counts in a too-close-to-call presidential race and lower-level candidates wonder if their current positions will hold or change drastically as a historic number of absentee ballots continue to be counted, two Hilltown officials can rest easy, each having secured nearly 100-percent of votes in their uncontested elections. 

In Knox, Matthew Schanz was elected highway superintendent by 1,162 voters on the Republican (77 percent) and Conservative (22 percent) lines. And, in Westerlo, Karla Weaver was elected town clerk by 1,461 voters on the Democrat (36 percent) and Republican (64 percent) lines.

Both Hilltowns have more enrolled Democrats than Republicans but both have town boards with Repubican-backed majorities since President Donald Trump swept the Hilltowns in 2016.

Schanz and Weaver had each been working in their respective positions on an interim basis prior to this election. Schanz, who had been the town’s deputy highway superintendent, stepped up as the de facto highway superintendent last year after Gary Salisbury abandoned the role because of what Salisbury described as “nasty politics” in the town.

 Salisbury had resigned just two months before what would have been his re-election, so his name remained on the ballot, which meant that Schanz would need to be appointed to the position at the start of 2020. Schanz’s first official term will last four years.

Weaver, meanwhile, became acting town clerk in June after Kathleen Spinnato retired just six months into her second four-year term as clerk. Spinnato said that the sudden nature of her resignation was the result of a retirement benefit that required her to act quickly.

The Westerlo Town Board immediately appointed Weaver, who had been Spinnato’s deputy since 2015, in a minor controversy; the vote split down party lines — the board’s three Republicans voted in favor of Weaver while the two Democrats, including Supervisor Bill Bichteman, voted against the motion.

Republican Councilwoman Amie Burnside raised the motion unexpectedly at the June 11 meeting.

Bichteman told The Enterprise after the vote that he had no qualms about Weaver being appointed but that there were matters related to the appointment that he had hoped to discuss in an executive session. 

The second Democrat, Joseph Boone, said before the vote that he was “wary” and “nervous” about making an appointment so quickly. 

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