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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 11, 2008

Barnette pulls out a win

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALBANY COUNTY — Betty Barnette won a seat Tuesday on the state Democratic committee against the will of the county committee leaders.

This summer, the Albany County Democratic Committee had selected Guilderland Town Clerk Rosemary Centi to run for the seat with incumbent Assemblyman John McEneny.  The state committee has a seat for one woman and one man from each district.

In June, Barnette, the incumbent female, sent postcards to Democrats asking them to “please save your signature for me,” when it came time to sign petitions.  Barnette got 1,500 more than the required 500 signatures to get on the Sept. 9 ballot, she said.

“It just seemed, from my vantage point, to be a unilateral decision from county leadership,” she said yesterday of the committee’s endorsement of Centi.  When asked about the decision in August, co-chair David Bosworth indicated that there hadn’t been communication from Barnette that she was interested in serving a second term.

“We’re really just trying to unify the urban and suburban split,” Centi said in August of the platform she shared with McEneny.

Two years ago, Guilderland’s Bosworth and Frank Commisso, manager of Albany’s port authority, battled for the chairmanship of the county’s Democratic party, and, after legal challenges, ended up compromising on being co-chairs.

Also two years ago, McEneny and Burns, of Voorheesville, challenged Albany Treasurer Barnette and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings for the seats.  The district covers most of the city of Albany, and the towns of Guilderland, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville, including the villages of Altamont and Voorheesville.

McEneny was the biggest vote-getter in the 2006 primary, with Barnette coming in second — making it a split ticket.

McEneny in August detailed some of Albany’s recent political history, fingering Jennings as a major player in what he sees as a division of the city verses the rural and suburban towns of Albany County that has widened over the last couple of years.  There has been some friction between the two politicians since McEneny lost a mayoral primary to Jennings about a decade ago.

“We think that’s a very dangerous thing, to divide Albany County into two factions,” McEneny said of the stance he and Centi had on the split.  “I think we need one Democratic headquarters.  We need to restore that powerhouse.”

Just before the Sept. 9 primary, Barnette sent out another postcard to party members, asking for support in the polls.  She wanted to thank Democrats for putting her on the ballot and ask for their votes, Barnette said, and “I didn’t know any other way to [do] it.”

She ended up pulling in 6,028 votes to Centi’s 4,845, according to unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Elections.

According to her July financial disclosure report, Barnette had spent $4,575 on postcards and mailing, and on June 12, her campaign received a $4,000 loan from Bill Barnette.

She is looking forward to two more years as the 104 district’s representative to the state committee and, Barnette said, she will “continue working with my colleagues — Mr. McEneny included.”

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