Last week the Lloyd Republican Party nominated their candidates for the fall 2017 election. As he has for many years, John Wadlin chaired the caucus, which was held at St. Augustine’s school gymnasium.
Five candidates were nominated for two open Town Council positions – (incumbent) Kevin Brennie received 43 votes, Leonard Auchmoody received 62 votes, Christina DeMaio garnered 38 votes, Jill Indelicato drew 44 votes and David Plavchak secured 62 votes; leaving Auchmoody and Plavchak the nominees for Town Council.
Just before voting started for the Council positions, Supervisor Paul Hansut questioned why the Caucus was pausing to vote on these positions instead of first accepting nominations for all of the positions that would be appearing on the ballot in November. Hansut’s motion to continue the nominations received a second. Chairman Wadlin said party chairman, Franco Zani, informed him that the reason for pausing to vote is to give those who are not successful for Town Council the opportunity to be nominated and run for another position. Though the Council votes were not yet tallied, Wadlin indicated that the Caucus would proceed with nominations for other offices. Hansut again pressed the chairman, with Wadlin stating, “The Chair of this Caucus ruled that out of order based on the rules of the Ulster County Board of Elections.”
Wadlin moved forward on nominations for Town Justice and Town Clerk. By doing so, the Caucus did not strictly adhere to the recommendations made by Tom Turco, Republican representative of the Ulster County Board of Elections.
Emails between party Chairman Zani and Turco that were sent several days before the caucus, show that Zani anticipated that this issue might arise. He stated to Turco that he would like to “vote once for all offices.” Turco responded, “Unfortunately, you cannot do that. For example: I lose the Supervisor vote. By law I am now entitled to be nominated for Council but now you prevented me from being nominated, thus not allowed.”
Zani provided the Southern Ulster Times with a list of caucus rules that were developed by the Lloyd Republican Party that only adds more confusion to the mix. It states that “all contested seats will be voted by paper ballot at the end of the nominations,” but the rule fails to clarify at what point nominations end.
The Caucus also did not adhere to another provision in their rules that states “All speeches from elected candidates will be held until all positions have been filled.” The five candidates for Town Council, as well as the nominees for Town Justice and Town Clerk were invited to address the caucus, some before voting, and before all of the positions on the ballot were filled.
Ulster County Legislative candidates Herb Litts was given a moment to address the Caucus.
Litts said he was pleased to see such a large turnout, saying “I love to see our democratic process work.” His ancestors came to the Hudson Valley in 1640 and he is running for a third term in the Legislature in District 9 that encompasses western Lloyd and eastern Plattekill.
“I am here to represent my constituents and that is everybody, no matter what party that is,” he said.
The caucus nominated incumbent Terry Elia for Town Justice, without opposition. He is running for a sixth term.
“We have a lot of challenges in Lloyd and we are truly the crossroads of the Hudson Valley,” he said, urging the public to attend court sessions; “you should really see what happens in your town.” He said he believes in family first and would not do anything to disrespect the public.
Christine Giangrasso was nominated for Town Clerk, also without opposition. In accepting the nomination Giangrasso said “The most important thing my parents taught me is to look, listen, be aware, embrace your community and take care. When all is said and done, no matter what party you are, you have to embrace the people of your community. It is very important we work together moving forward in 2017.”
The caucus did not put forth a nominee for Highway Superintendent.
The final nomination for Town Supervisor went to incumbent Paul Hansut. No other name was put forth on the floor. In his acceptance speech Hansut took a moment to thank his wife of 30 years, Gina, “for putting up with this roller-coaster nonsense called politics, for always standing by my side and helping me with my decisions..It is an honor and a privilege to serve all the residents of the Town of Lloyd, not just Republicans, Independents [or] Democrats, its an honor to serve everyone. We will as a Republican team move this town forward.”
Hansut said the Republicans in office have worked well together and have brought budgets in under the cap.
“We are fiscally responsible; that’s what Republicans do. We keep government in place [and] we work very, very hard…I am out in the community seven days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year serving this town. That is what I do.”
In a subsequent interview, Hansut said the commercial base of the town is growing along with having “well thought out” residential projects under construction.
“We have a lot of excitement in town and there are a lot of people coming over from the Walkway on a regular basis supporting the downtown businesses; just a lot of good positive things going on that I am happy about,” he said.
Hansut regrets not spearheading the towing issue from the start but is hopeful that this controversial matter will soon be resolved, along with completing the PBA contract that has been out for nearly three years. He said the PBA filed for arbitration as some of the members of the Town Board felt they should have agreed to more concessions. He believes the PBA is only looking for a fair deal.
“I’m hoping that we can resolve wasting taxpayer money to go to an arbitration when I think if we sit down and talk about it, I think it can be resolved,” he said.
Hansut said there was a political aspect to pausing the caucus to vote on the contested Town Council seats.
“It just seemed to me awfully suspicions that they were going to wait to see what the Councilman race was and then do the Supervisor [nomination],” he said.
Hansut believes this was designed to allow someone to challenge him for the position, which did not materialize.
“It was clear and obvious to the majority of people who were here that there was something not quite right with it [but] its done and its over with,” Hansut said. “We’re going to move forward and run as a team. We’re going to be successful and make Highland a great place…and we’re going to work for everyone.”
Lloyd Party Chairman Franco Zani said he was pleased with the turnout for the caucus.
“There were 151 people when the caucus started and ten or fifteen minutes later I noticed there were more people walking through the door,” he said. “The speeches were good and we had a lot of good candidates and a lot of young candidates are starting to step up. We need some new blood and we need experience, to stay underneath the tax cap and move the town forward without reducing services. We need people who can think outside the box.”
By Mark Reynolds