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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 3, 2009

Who will fill vacant town-board seat?

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — When Councilwoman Marie Dermody vacates her town board post in January to become supervisor, who will be appointed to fill the empty seat? Interviews may take place next week, the town’s Democratic chairman said Tuesday.

This much is certain: When the new year rolls around, newly-elected Conservative Marion Cooke and Democratic Chairman John Kudlack Jr. will sit on the town board. Democratic Councilwoman Sherri Pine lost her bid for re-election, and Republican Councilman Robert Lansing did not run again this year.

But the board’s choice for the vacant post may or may not have anything to do with how residents voted on Nov. 3, nor will the person selected necessarily be one of the candidates from the election. No matter who is chosen, Democrats will maintain the majority on the five-member board — as they have for years — with Dermody, Kudlack, and Gary Chase.

Official results from the Albany County Board of Elections for the Rensselaerville town board race, including absentee ballots, show Cooke receiving 525 votes, or 28 percent, and Kudlack getting 502, or 27 percent, winning their places on the next town board. Conservative Robert Bolte, the third-highest vote getter, received 447, or 24 percent, and Councilwoman Pine gathered 422, or 22 percent.

Bolte said this week that, if chosen, he would accept the appointment, but he is not campaigning to gain support. However, two letters to the Enterprise editor this week call for public support of Bolte.

Pine would not comment on whether or not she would accept the appointment, nor would Supervisor-elect Dermody comment on the matter, saying only, “My voters and my taxpayers need to know before the newspaper,” and that it will likely be discussed at next week’s town board meeting.

“We’re looking at a few people,” Councilman Gary Chase told The Enterprise this week, though he would not reveal the names of those being considered. Asked if former candidates Pine and Bolte were on the list of potential appointments, Chase said Pine was being considered.

But Kudlack, councilman-elect and chairman of the town’s Democratic Committee, said that he would not consider Pine for the appointment, since she lost the election.

“We’ve canvassed a couple of people, and, in probably another week or so, we’ll interview them,” said Kudlack this week. “I don’t want to give any names, because I don’t want to scare anyone away.”

Councilwoman-elect Cooke’s opinion on the appointment, however, is cut and dried.

“I think they should take the next-highest vote-getter — Bob Bolte, but that decision is probably going to be theirs, since they’ve got the majority of the board,” Cooke said this week of the Democrats. If Bolte were appointed, Cooke went on, “They’d still have the majority, but it’d be a more bipartisan board, and it would represent the voters more evenly.” Bolte, who is enrolled as a Conservative, ran on both Conservative and GOP lines. Cooke, also enrolled as a Conservative, ran on the Republican, Independence, and Conservative lines.

Kudlack, on the other hand, said this week that appointing Bolte would not represent the voters — to the contrary, it would go against them.

“I had a conversation with Marie [Dermody] before the election where I said, ‘If you get elected, and I don’t, then I don’t want to be appointed to board,’” said Kudlack. “It’s the same with Bob [Bolte]; if the voters didn’t choose him, and we appointed him, it would be like a slap in the face of the voters.”

But the Democratic majority on the board, Kudlack said, will be the highest hurdle between Bolte and the vacant town board seat.

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