Monday, November 30, 2009

Virginia Martin Unanimously Endorsed for Democratic Elections Commissioner

Columbia County Dems refer Virginia Martin to Columbia County Board of Supervisors Democratic caucus for reappointment to full two year term as Democratic Commissioner of Elections. 

Virginia Martin, the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Columbia County, was enthusiastically endorsed by acclamation for a two-year term on the Board of Elections by the Columbia County Democratic Committee at a special meeting on November 30.

“We are proud to recommend Virginia Martin for confirmation by the Board,” said Christopher Nolan, chair of the CCDC. “She has served the county in an exemplary fashion and the Democratic Committee showed their support with a unanimous vote.”

In response to a standing ovation from the committee, Martin said that she was “honored and touched” by their support. She praised her Democratic staff, Deputy Commissioner Hilary Hillman and Election Specialist Alice Wettach, as “phenomenal.” “We’ve done good work,” said Martin, “and I look forward to continuing that work in my next term.”
Under NYS election law, the county committee is called upon to make an official recommendation to the Democratic caucus of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. (The Democratic caucus is made up of all of the Democratic Supervisors on the board). Once approved by the caucus, the appointment is then referred to the full board for final approval. The Board of Supervisors is required to act by the end of this year. Martin’s new two year term will commence on January 1, 2010.

First Day of Absentee Ballot Case Heard in Columbia County Court

Outside the Columbia County Courthouse today.
Photo by Carole Osterink for ccScoop

In the first hearing on the Republican challenges of absentee ballots in Columbia County, much of the proceeding was taken up with housekeeping to straighten out the multiple filings and cross-filings that had piled up on the desk of Judge Jonathan Nichols.

But there was some real movement as well. 
The biggest development is that Greg Fingar, Columbia County Republican Chair and plaintiff for the Republicans has now dropped the challenge to all absentee ballots in the entire county, except in the Town of Taghkanic.
Special note: Judge Nichols had to move the proceeding to the larger court room on the second floor, due to the overflow crowd of Democratic supporters. Although the courtroom was full, the plaintiff in the case, Republican Chair, Greg Fingar, the man responsible for challenging the rights of hundreds of Columbia County voters; was a no show.

The Republican counsel James Walsh and Democratic attorney Kathleen O'Keefe will submit to Judge Nichols, a detailed list of the absentee ballots that are being challenged in Taghkanic by each side along with the specific objections to each ballot. It was agreed that this information will be submitted via email by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1.

On Wednesday, December 2, at 1 p.m. the judge is scheduled to start hearing arguments on the challenges to absentee ballots in the Town of Taghkanic and on our claim that the votes of 2nd homeowners should be counted. The Democratic position is on very solid legal ground. The Republicans have made it clear that they are going to challenge those 2nd homeowners who have claimed STAR exemptions or have rent stabilized apartments at another residence, other than the one they vote from in Columbia County. Even though the criteria for Rent Stabilization and STAR are different than the criteria for voting from a second residence.

This is an orchestrated campaign of voter intimidation by the Republicans.  We are committed to doing everything in our power to be certain that it not succeed, and that it not be allowed to happen ever again.

The Columbia County Democratic Committee stands with 2nd home owners and others whose votes are being challenged and against those that seek to deny the right to vote and to have each vote counted. At today's hearing Columbia County Democratic Party chairman Chris Nolan was added to the lawsuit by intervention. Intervention is a legal procedure that allows parties that aren’t named as petitioners or respondents in court proceedings to join ongoing litigation.

On Thursday, December 3 at 9am—the challenged absentee ballots from Ancram, Austerlitz, Claverack, and Stuyvesant will be counted. Depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing, the challenged absentee ballots from Taghkanic might also be counted at this time.

The cost to defend the rights of 
Columbia County voters is enormous.  
Please make a contribution of 
any amount you can afford, right now

or send a check made out to CCDC to:
Columbia County Democratic Committee
P.O. Box 507
Ghent, New York 12075
Learn More:
See the latest on the court proceedings 
Judge Wants List of Ballot Objections in Register-Star
Challenged Ballots Go to Court in ccScoop

Excellent background story by Sam Pratt on DailyKos.
See the current Board of Elections voting machine tallys for: 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Absentee Ballot Update - All Hands on Deck

Absentee Ballot Update
All Hands on Deck

Greg Fingar and the County Republican Committee are suing CCDC on the second home owner's right to vote in Columbia County. Mr. Fingar is quoted in the Register-Star saying, "We love second home owners, but if you declare your residence as somewhere outside of Columbia County, that's where you should vote." This is the same issue with the same Republican lawyers and the same private investigator as the Murphy/Tedisco fiasco this year. Fingar thinks Republicans have a better case this time because Republicans hired private investigators and sent them to NYC to investigate absentee voters' residency status. He claims they have proof of fraud.  This is just one example of how far Republicans will go and what their tactics are. This is a shameful attempt to disenfranchise duly eligible Columbia County Democratic voters.

The challenged absentee ballots will wind up in Columbia County court and are scheduled to be heard on November 30.

We want you all to know we have retained an excellent elections law attorney, Kathleen O'Keefe, who has represented us from the very beginning of the absentee ballot count and will continue to represent us in the court action. The State Democratic Committee, NYS Lawyers Council, elected officials at every level and others are aware of what is going on here and have offered assistance and council. We have every reason to believe we have an excellent case and will prevail.

In addition, Commissioner Martin has also been sued by the Republicans in a scurrilous attempt to discredit her and add fuel to the fire of their case. This tactic will not work. Virginia bravely stood up to the Republican intimidation and will be vigorously represented in court as well.

What can you do to help?
Please make a donation to our Legal Defense Fund through ActBlue.
or send a check made out to CCDC to
Columbia County Democratic Committee,
P.O. Box 507
Ghent, New York 12075.

We need to have the strongest legal defense possible.

Your CCDC leadership and legal team promise to fight this battle tooth and nail. We will not give up and we will never give in. The stakes are too high. We want to end this right here, right now. This extremely important case is personal. The judge's ruling will have ramifications on the Constitutional rights of our friends and neighbors right here in Columbia County as well as state-wide. Please help us ... give generously to preserve your right to vote.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Press Release on Absentee Vote Count in Columbia County

Hudson -  In what is now becoming the routine in Columbia County, Republican operatives and attorneys have descended upon the County Board of Elections to deny the rights of voters in Columbia County.  After Republicans reneged on a scheduling agreement, the impasse was resolved after a court order and appeal and counting finally began of absentee ballots more than ten hours behind schedule.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Virginia Martin stated that "we had all expected to start the counting of absentee ballots this morning at 9am. Unfortunately after an agreement had previously been reached on the schedule for counting paper ballots, the Republican Commissioner changed his mind." Martin continued, "After meeting the Republicans more than halfway, there was no compromise from the other side. This resulted in a wasted day for all of the poll watchers, candidates and party officials who had assembled at the appointed time of 9am. This was a tragic waste of the taxpayers' money."

Once the opening of absentee and other paper ballots began, Republican representatives routinely challenged 2nd home owners, students and other valid voters' ballots, in an effort to win the five local races still left to be decided in the county.  The Republican party is spending an exorbitant amount of money on high-priced attorneys and operatives.  All this without having filed complete, or in some cases any, financial reports with the NYS Board of Elections.  The voters who cast absentee ballots in Columbia County are being disenfranchised, and we are all unable to even determine who is paying the bills.

This tactic reached its peak previously during the extremely tight race to fill the vacated seat left by the appointment of Senator Gillibrand between Scott Murphy and Jim Tedisco.  The same players in that weeks-long fiasco are now back in Columbia County and up to their same old tricks. They are trying to throw out ballots on technicalities; students who did not put the name of their school on absentee ballot applications or workers who omitted the name of their employer, or questioning the right of 2nd home owners to vote at the residence of their choice. They are particularly targeting people who have New York City or Florida addresses. 

Christopher Nolan, Chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee, said:  "We believe that the profiling being employed by the Republicans is discriminatory and is harassment of legitimate voters, the aim of which is to discourage Democratic voters from registering and voting in Columbia County. These voters pay a significant amount of the taxes in Columbia County; they contribute to our libraries, schools, fire houses, local civic organizations and our economy.  The Columbia County Democratic Committee stands with all of these voters to vote where they choose to vote and to have their votes counted, as is their right."

The issue of 2nd home owners in particular has been resolved by the courts.  Any voter who has more than one residence may choose which single residence they would choose to use to register to vote.  Yet since the Republican operatives consider 2nd home owners to lean more toward the Democrats, they are routinely attempting to disenfranchise these voters. 

Counsel for the Columbia County Democratic Committee, Kathleen O'Keefe stated: "It is an outrage that people who have been registered and voting in Columbia County, some since the 1970s, are having their ballots contested on residency issues."

After the Murphy/Tedisco election, the Columbia County Democratic Committee warned the voters of Columbia County that the tactics employed in that race might very well become the routine operating procedure for the Republican party in our local races.  That prediction has now come true. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Democrats Sweep Town Seats in the Town of Copake

In the Town of Copake the Copake Democrats swept every town seat across the board.

Democratic incumbents Linda Gabaccia and Bob Sacks held their seats on the Copake Town Board. Democratic challenger Loredana Delventhal unseated David Gordineer for town assessor. The position of town justice was won by Democratic incumbent Brian J. Herman over former justice William Kane.

Preliminary vote totals are:

Copake Town Board
Gabaccia - 513
Sacks - 479
LaPorta - 450
Weber - 440

Copake Assesor
Delventhal - 500
Gordineer - 390

Copake Town Justice
Herman - 552 
Kane - 390

Read more in Register-Star

Columbia County Democrats Leaders Personally Respond to $9Million Accounting Fiasco

Several key members of the Columbia County Democratic Committee (CCDC) have responded to the $9 Million accounting mess at the Columbia County Department of Social Services (DSS) by writing letters to the editor and by blogging.

We bring you these letters so that you can see what other people are thinking about this scandal.

Bear in mind, the writers are speaking only for themselves and not on behalf of the committee.

Carol Sacks
November 5, 2009
Letter to the Editor Register-Star
Carol Sacks is Treasurer of CCDC and Chair of Copake Democrats.
She was a candidate for Columbia County Treasurer in 2007.

Chris Nolan
November 4, 2009
Letter to the Editor Register-Star
Chris Nolan is Chair of CCDC and Chair of Clermont Democrats.

Victor Mendolia
November 2, 2009
Blog Post Diamond Street
Victor Mendolia is Chair of Hudson City Democratic Committee and CCDC Webmaster.

Robin Andrews With Slight Lead in Claverack Supervisors Race

Everyone has expected the race for the Town of Claverack Supervisor seat to be tight. After the polls closed it became clear just how tight it is. Democrat Robin Andrews is looking to unseat incumbent Claverack Supervisor, Republican Jim Keegan. The race remains too close to call.

Claverack Supervisor
The unofficial preliminary total is:
Andrews - 888
Keegan - 881
There are about 130 absentee ballots to count.
Read more at Register-Star

Art Bassin Captures Ancram Supervisor Seat for the Democrats

Democrat Art Bassin has unseated Republican incumbent Supervisor Thomas Dias in the Town of Ancram.

Ancram Supervisor
Bassin - 338
Dias -271
A little more than 100 absentee ballots are left to count.

Read more at Register-Star and Columbia Paper

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ed Nabozny Takes Greenport Supervisor Seat from Republicans

In a major pickup for the Democrats due to its heavily weighted vote, Ed Nabozny has taken the Town of Greenport's Supervisor's seat. The seat had previously been held by Republican John Rutkey who did not run for re-election.

Edward Nabozny, an Independence Party member backed by Greenport Democrats and the Conservative Party won by a large margin, beating out Republican Patrick Nolan.

This was Nabozny’s second run at the supervisor position.

Nabozny received 833 votes, while Nolan received 496.

Read more in Register-Star.

It's Too Close to Call for Lee Jamison in Stuyvesant Supervisors Race

When the polls closed in the Town of Stuyvesant, the race for Stuyvesant Town Supervisor was too close to call. 

Republican incumbent Supervisor Valerie Bertram was at 378 votes, and Democratic challenger Lee Jamison with 359 votes. 
Lee was endorsed by the Register-Star.

There are about 50 absentee and affadavit ballots still to be counted, leaving room for either candidate to emerge victorious.

Read more on the race in Register-Star and the Stuyvesant Democrats Blog.

Supervisor Raymond Staats Wins Re-Election Handily in Clermont..Again.

Incumbent Supervisor Raymond Staats has won for a second time over Republican Carol Lent in the Town of Clermont.

Staats won by a considerable margin, earning 380 votes to Lent’s 224.

Read more Register-Star

Several Democratic Incumbents Lose Their Races

In sad losses for Columbia County Democrats, 
several Democratic incumbents have lost their races for re-election.

• In the Town of Kinderhook attorney Pat Grattan has beaten Doug McGivney for Kinderhook Supervisor. 

• In the Town of Livingston,  Kevin McDonald has won over Phil Williams for Livingston Supervisor.

• In the Town of Austerlitz, Jeff Braley is ahead of Democratic incumbent George Jahn for Austerlitz Town Supervisor. The current vote count is Braley 255 votes and Jahn 178. With about 80 absentee ballots issued, Jahn would have to win nearly all of them in order to win the election.

The Columbia County Democratic Committee wishes to thank Supervisors McGivney, Williams and Jahn for their service to the committee, to their towns and to Columbia County.

Democrat Don Moore Elected Hudson's Next Common Council President

Don Moore is congratulated by 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross. 
Standing (l) is 2nd Ward Alderman Abdus Miah and seated, Hudson City Treasurer Eileen Halloran. 
(Robert Ragaini/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)
See the Full Article.

After a re-canvass of all seven Hudson election districts, the unofficial preliminary totals in the race for Hudson Common Council President, indicate a substantial lead for Don Moore over Republican John J. Porreca.

At present the vote totals in the Common Council President race stand as follows:

Citywide Totals
Moore - 581
Porreca - 504
Note: There were absentee ballots 230 issued citywide which are yet to be counted.

In Hudson Supervisor Races Landslides for Hughes and Cross

In Hudson, 4th Ward Supervisor William Hughes Jr. and 2nd Ward Supervisor Rev. Edward Cross III have been re-elected in landslides. 

Rev. Cross on the Democratic line, handily beat Tracy Decker who had the Republican and Conservative lines.

Supervisor Hughes had the endorsements of the Hudson Democrats and the Working Families Party and won the Conservative and Independence Party primaries as a write in candidate. He beat Samuel Santiago who ran on the Republican line.

Preliminary voting machine totals are as follows:

2nd Ward 
Cross - 132
Decker - 30

4th Ward
Hughes - 112 
Santiago - 31

In the 1st Ward Supervisor John Musall ran unopposed on the Democratic, Independence, Conservative and Working Families Party.

1st Ward
Musall - 93

The Hudson City Democratic Committee offers its thanks and congratulations to Supervisors John Musall, Edward Cross III and William Hughes Jr.

In the 3rd Ward, Supervisor Joe Finn is down by 18 votes in his 3rd race against Republican William Hallenbeck. Unofficial preliminary voting machine results have Finn with 110 and Hallenbeck with 128 with extremely light turnout, particularly in the 3rd Ward - 2nd District.

Note: 37 Absentee ballots have been sent with 26 having been returned so far.  Therefore this race is still too close to call.

A Rough Night for Incumbents - Crucial Races Too Close to Call.

Election 2009 has proven to be rough on incumbents of both parties. On the Democratic side Doug McGivney of Kinderhook, Phil Williams in Livingston and George Jahn have lost their bids for re-election. 

Republican Thom Dias in Ancram has apparently lost to Art Bassin.  Democrats, Raymond Staats in Clermont and Meg Robertson in New Lebanon were re-elected. In a big pick-up for the Democrats, Ed Nabozny has won handily in Greenport.

Democrat Robin Andrews has a slim lead in the race for Supervisor in Claverack. The race in Stuyvesant is too close to call and in Taghkanic, due to a large number of absentee ballots, Loretta Hoffmann may still prevail over long-time Supervisor Betty Young.  

In Hudson, Supervisors Edward Cross III and William Hughes Jr have won landslide victories in the 2nd and 4th Ward Supervisor races. Joe Finn is currently trailing Republican William Hallenbeck by 18 votes.

We will post all re-canvass numbers as soon as they are available.

In the meantime, see results for
Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Claverack, Clermont,
Hillsdale, Kinderhook, Livingston, New Lebanon, Stockport, Stuyvesant and Taghkanic and
Copake, Gallatin, Germantown, Ghent, Greenport in the Register -Star

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Returns - Will be Here

We will be posting election results for all of Columbia County as soon as they become available on Tuesday Night, Election Day November 3rd.