Democratic dominance of New Scotland continues

The Enterprise — Sean Mulkerrin
Checking in: Newly elected town board member, Daniel Leinung, with phone, checks results with his wife, Kellie, and Councilman Bill Hennessey, at right.

NEW SCOTLAND — High-voter turnout coupled with small-party line wins delivered a decisive victory for the Democratic candidates for town board in New Scotland.  

In his first run for public office, Daniel Leinung, a member of the New Scotland Planning Board, was the top vote-getter with 2,101 votes, a little under 41 percent of the vote; incumbent Adam Greenberg was second with 1,912 votes, just over 37 percent of the vote; and Republican Craig A. Shufelt was third with 1,135 votes, 22 percent of the vote, according to unofficial vote results from the Albany County Board of Elections.

The candidates acknowledged that the high voter turnout could be attributed to the statewide vote on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention — which voters rejected both in New Scotland and state-wide. In a town with more enrolled Democrats, higher turnout favored Leinung and Greenberg, who both received 1,431 Democratic votes, while Shufelt received 1,135 Republican votes.

A Republican hasn’t won a seat on the town council since 2009, when current supervisor and then-Republican, Douglas LaGrange, was re-elected.

The small-party line wins gave Leinung and Greenberg an overwhelming victory. Leinung received 476 votes on the Conservative line and 194 votes on the Independence Party line; Greenberg received 306 votes from Conservatives and 175 votes from Independence Party voters.

Shufelt, who lost a close race with Greenberg in 2015, won’t rule out running again, but acknowledges that he needs to be on the small-party lines to have a chance to win. “I think the main thing is getting the Conservative line, and not being a write-in candidate” during the primary elections, Shufelt says.

In 2015, Greenberg beat Shufelt 1,222 to 1,168 — by just 54 votes. Voter turnout was 42 percent. That year, Greenberg appeared on the Democratic, Conservative, and Independence Party lines, while Shufelt appeared on the Republican and Reform lines.

That year, Greenberg won 929 Democratic votes, 152 Conservative votes, and 141 Independence Party votes. Shufelt won 1,084 Republican votes and 84 votes from Reform Party voters.

New Scotland has 6,384 registered voters: 38 percent of registered voters are Democrats (2,432); 24 percent are Republicans (1,575); and 27 percent (1,743) are not affiliated with a party. The rest of registered voters are enrolled in small parties: 382 with the Independence Party; 211 Conservatives; 18 are registered with the Green Party; 16 with the Working Families Party; and six are Libertarians, according to 2017 figures from the Albany County Board of Elections.

For 2017, the candidates’ financial disclosures show that Greenberg raised $1,740; Leinung raised $1,575; and Shufelt raised nothing. On the state’s financial disclosure website it says: “There is no itemized financial disclosure data…” for Shufelt, and to “check for filings made by Authorized Committee,” which, for Shufelt, is the New Scotland Republican Committee — it raised $1,622 while the New Scotland Democratic Committee raised $1,770. Shufelt told The Enterprise that he didn’t raise any money as an individual.

 

The Enterprise — Sean Mulkerrin​
Gracious in defeat: Republican Craig A. Shufelt, left, congratulates incumbent Democrat Adam Greenberg on his re-election to the town board.

 

Taking stock and moving forward

The winning Democrats have aims similar to their current initiatives for the next few years: Completion of the comprehensive and hamlet-rezoning plans, and extending high-speed internet to rural areas of town. While the Republican Party tries to plan a way to overcome being out-enrolled in town.

Greenberg and Leinung both said that issues around development were what most residents whose doors they knocked on wanted to discuss.

“It was reinforced during door knocking that we need a plan,” that residents don’t want sprawl, Greenberg said. Residents want to preserve open space and preserve the town’s character, he said.

“You kind of know that, but it’s nice to have it reinforced and to hear it again,” Greenberg said.

Leinung said, “Smart development and planning was a concern. Going around, we heard that from 95 percent of people — they said, it’s development. So, it’s reaffirming to hear that.”

Greenberg says, “I think the issue became clear around the sign law … There, it was clear to the electorate that it was a choice between people who wanted to plan and set some limits on how the town can be developed, and what it would look like if people who wanted to be more laissez-faire in terms of how business and development was treated.

“I think it was good for people to see — whichever side you were on; at least it was clear that there was a difference,” Greenberg said.

New Scotland Republican Committee Chairman Deane Fish acknowledges the difficulties his party faces, but he is optimistic.

“We have two years to strategize. The party is in the best shape, financially, it has been in since I took over,” he said.

“We have to make people aware that it’s one-party rule in New Scotland. People are gradually becoming aware. When I talk to them, they are unaware that the board and supervisor are all Democrats,” Fish said.

“The challenge is to boost enrollment,” Fish says, adding, “And making people aware that a monopoly is bad in business and it’s equally bad in government.

Unopposed-incumbent winners

Supervisor Douglas LaGrange won re-election with 99 percent of the total vote; this was his second, unopposed win. There hasn’t been a competitive race for the office since 2009, when incumbent Democrat Thomas Dolin beat Republican Michael Fields. Dolin then ran unopposed in the next two elections, until he retired in 2015 and backed his former opponent from the 2007 election, LaGrange, for the position.  

With over 99 percent of the vote, Clerk Diane Deschenes won again; she has been town clerk since 2000, when she was first elected. She ran unopposed.

Town Justice Bob Johnson kept the seat he was appointed to when Margaret Adkins resigned a year ago. Johnson won 99.5 percent of the vote and ran unopposed.

Ken Guyer won his third straight unopposed election for highway superintendent with over 99 percent of the vote. He won his first election in 2013, after long-time Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan left the town for a job as head of Albany County Public Works in March 2012.

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