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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 10, 2011

Dems ousted in Rensselaerville

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — In a landslide vote Tuesday night, two Democrats were defeated by a Conservative and an Independence Party member in the race for town board, despite Democrats vastly outnumbering the other parties in this rural Hilltown.

Democratic Councilman Gary Chase, who had served three terms on the town board, was ousted on Election Day; his running mate, newcomer Anthony Higgins, lost as well. Incumbent Conservative board member, Robert Bolte, and Independent challenger Margaret Sedlmeir, a newcomer to politics, nearly doubled the total votes for their opponents, and January will mark the first time in years that Democrats have not dominated the town board.

According to the unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Elections, Bolte got 453 votes, or 31 percent, while Sedlmeir garnered 432, or 29 percent. Chase got 321 votes, or 22 percent, and Higgins received 275 votes, or 19 percent.

Sedlmeir, Chase, and Higgins could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Asked what he thought led to his and Sedlmeir’s victory on Tuesday night, Bolte replied, “It’s real simple.”

At the town board’s Oct. 3 meeting, after an update on roadwork, and a vote to declare the town board as lead agency in managing the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, Bolte and Conservative Councilwoman Marion Cooke wanted to open the floor to the public, but the motion was defeated by the board’s Democratic majority, made up by council members Chase and Jack Kudlack, and Supervisor Marie Dermody. Residents were not allowed to ask questions or make statements at the meeting.

“When the three Democrats voted against the people from Preston Hollow speaking at that meeting, it hurt them bad,” Bolte told The Enterprise Wednesday. “When you get into politics, and you’re on the board, and you think that you’re the boss of the people, you are wrong. The people are still your boss. They haven’t worked together as a board since I’ve been on it, or since Marion’s been on it, and the people see this.”

Other results

In the race for highway superintendent, Randall Bates, a Republican who is retired from a 30-year career as a paving supervisor for the New York State Department of Transportation, defeated Democrat John Pine, a private construction contractor. Bates got 535 votes, or 71 percent, while Pine got 217 votes, or 29 percent.

Bates will finish out the last two years of a term that Gary Zeh started in 2010; Zeh resigned earlier this year.

And, Democrat Greg Bischoff defeated Democrat Myra Dorman in the race for town judge, with Bischoff getting 439 votes, or 66 percent, and Dorman getting 227 votes, or 34 percent.

In the race for assessor, both candidates are convinced that absentee ballots will bring them victory, despite the current unofficial tally from last night.

Incumbent Democrat, Jeffry Pine, got fewer votes than Republican challenger Richard Tollner on Election Day, with Pine getting 348 votes, or 47 percent, and Tollner getting 391 votes, or 53 percent. Jeffry Pine is the father of John Pine.

“This is basically the response of the people in the Hilltowns to how things have been run, and how they want things to be run,” Tollner said Wednesday. “When people have different opinions, and want different results, they elect different people, and they started to have a lower confidence level in the elected officials, and they wanted to place their trust in other parties.”

Still, Pine is confident.

“I know some people who sent in absentee ballots, even some Republicans that are on my side,” he said. “I’m disappointed that my compadres lost; I don’t think I’m going to lose.”

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