Elections in Knox

Two Dems win board seats, GOP’s highway super unopposed

KNOX — Both the winners and the losers in the four-way race for two town board seats in Knox said shoe leather was more important than issues.

The Republicans and the Democrats both did extensive door-to-door campaigning. The Democrats won both seats with Dennis Barber garnering 27.84 percent of the vote and Dennis Decker right behind with 27.28 percent of the vote.

Republican challenger Michael Swain was a close third with 24.17 percent of the vote and his running mate, John Hunsicker, got 20.6 percent.

Turnout was heavy this year with well over 900 Knox residents voting.

The race for town clerk was too close to call. Incumbent Republican Kim Swain, who has had three two-year terms, was challenged by Democrat Renée Quay. With absentee ballots yet to be counted, Swain got 468 votes and Quay got 467, according to unofficial results posted yesterday from the Albany County Board of Elections.

The incumbent Democratic judge, James Corigliano, and the Democratic candidate for tax collector, Diane Champion, both won handily.

“We felt we made a valiant effort in trying to reach all of the citizens,” said Supervisor Michael Hammond, who headed the Democratic ticket, as he waited in Town Hall Tuesday night for the results from the three election districts to be tallied.

Hammond was unopposed as was the Republican highway superintendent, Gary Salisbury, who won his fourth two-year term.

Hammond won his 20th consecutive two-year term and is the longest serving supervisor in the county.

Knox has roughly as many unenrolled voters as Republicans and nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans.

Its bipartisan town board currently has three Democrats and two Republicans.  That mix will change on Jan. 1 as Patricia Gage, the town’s Republican Party chairwoman, did not seek re-election. Also, Councilman Travis Stevens, the board’s other Republican, won a seat Tuesday in the county legislature. (See related story.) He said, if it is legal, he’ll consider keeping his seat on the town board and serve both legislative bodies.

As Decker waited for results Tuesday night, he said of running for office, “It’s always fun. I like being involved, being part of the community.”  At 51, he has spent 12 years on the town board. First elected in 1995, he served for two terms, then lost an election. He was elected two years later and then, after another four-year term, he lost in 2009.

“Even losing, you can tolerate,” he said on Election Night. “You just have to move on and try it again.”

Decker works for National Grid as a civil construction supervisor for underground electrical systems.

Gesturing to the renovated and expanded town hall, which was in the planning stages for years, Decker said, “We’ve got some results here, a beautiful town hall…It’s come a long way.”

Barber, on perusing the tallies on Tuesday night that put him in the lead, said simply, “I’m happy.”

Barber has lived in Knox for all of his 56 years. He’s retired from his job at the state’s Department of Transportation. His first run for public office was unsuccessful when he challenged Highway Superintendent Salisbury two years ago.

Asked on Tuesday night to what he attributed his victory, Barber said, “The involvement I’ve had in the community over the last 30 years. They realize, this person cares about the town.” Barber has served on the Knox’s youth committee, worked with the Little League, volunteered in the fire company, and is now on the zoning board.

“We put in a lot of time campaigning,” said Decker, when asked why the Democrats won.

Asked if the victory had anything to do with issues, Decker replied, “Knox is pretty quiet. There are no smoking guns in the closet.”

Republican Michael Swain, making his first run for office, had a similar view. “It was just knocking on doors and getting out there,” he said of his campaign.

At 36, he has worked in telecommunications, and is now a mechanic at Berne-Knox-Westerlo. He said during his campaign he’d bring “younger ideas” to the board and wanted to give back to the community.

“There’s always next time,” Swain said on Tuesday night, indicating he’d consider another run.

Swain’s running partner, John Hunsicker, 53, works as a bus driver, construction worker, and hay producer. He, too, said he wanted to make a contribution to the town.

Clerk too close to call

The race for town clerk hangs in the balance over uncounted absentee votes.

Republican Kim Swain had a one-vote lead on Election Night. She garnered 322 GOP votes, 105 Conservative votes, and 41 Independence Party votes. Quay got 467 votes on the Democratic line.

Married to Michael Swain, the defeated town board candidate, Kim Swain is finishing her third two-year term as clerk. A life-long Knox resident, she said during her campaign, “I enjoy serving the community and meeting the new people that live in the town. Most of all, I enjoy the job, and taking care of town business.”

She was challenged by Democrat Renée Quay, 24, chef at the Township Tavern.

“Politics has always been in my family,” Quay said during her campaign. “My grandfather, Irwin King, was justice for six years. My mother, Linda Quay, was town clerk for a few years; she’s been court clerk; and she was justice for 15 years.”

“I’m very proud of her,” said Linda Quay on Election Night of her daughter and her campaign for town clerk.

“I knocked on every door in town,” said Renée Quay.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said her mother. They both said they’d be anxious to see the absentee ballots.

According to the Albany County Board of Elections, the absentee ballots will be opened on Nov. 16 at 9 a.m.

Dems win tax collector

and judge posts

In other Knox races, James Corigliano, the Democratic incumbent judge, got 55.15 percent of the vote, besting his Republican challenger, Bonnie Donati, who garnered 44.85 percent. Corigliano, 66, was appointed last year to replace Linda Quay on the Knox bench. A retired music teacher, he met the requirements for training after being appointed judge.

Donati, 66, who has retired from a career as a paralegal, has run for Knox judge before.

In the tax collector’s race, Democrat Diane Champion, won with 56.60 percent of the vote over Republican Frank Fuss who garnered 43.40 percent of the vote.

Knox’s long-time tax collector, Delia Palumbo, is stepping down at age 89.

Champion, 63, has had a 31-year career as a tax auditor and said she was able to help taxpayers solve their problems.

Fuss, 65, a retired chemist, ran on the points of fiscal responsibility, efficiency, and cooperation.

More Hilltowns News

  • Nathan Elble

    Read or listen to Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education incumbent Nathan Elble’s responses to questions from The Enterprise about the school’s budget; the relationship between a school board, district superintendent, and taxpayers; and what issues will be most critical to the district in the next three years.

  • Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Census Bureau halted hand-deliveries of census questionnaires to certain households, which has created a low self-response rate in the rural Hilltowns, where these hand-deliveries are more common. 

  • As they each seek re-election to the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education unchallenged, Nathan Elble and Kimberly Lovell spoke with The Enterprise about their views on the school’s budget; the relationship between a school board, district superintendent, and taxpayers; and what issues will be most critical to the district in the next three years. 

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.