Up in the hills of Olive and Shandaken, even unto Denning and Hardenburgh, whispers of legislator Kathy Nolan’s alleged “Delaware County residency” are once again making the rounds. “Old news” to some, it was nonetheless worth another listen.
Nolan, a non-practicing physician, known more for delaying the Resort at Belleayre megaresort at Highmount, crushed incumbent John Parete 466-192 in a 2017 Democratic primary, but won the general election by just 60 votes (37 percent) in a three-way race with Republican Cliff Faintych of Denning polling 808 votes. Parete is the Republican nominee this year. Filings for primary challenges are due by April 4.
The controversy began last August with Nolan, a Shandaken resident for some 30 years, moving from the hamlet of Phoenicia to Highmount on the border of Delaware County. Nolan said she routinely notified the board of elections for record-keeping purposes that she was renting space at 352 Galli Curci Road and was advised by Democratic elections commissioner Ashley Dittus, she said, that BOE records showed that address was within her 22nd legislative district. Galli Curci Road meanders across the county line, rising here and there into Delaware.
It turns out the records were wrong. Republican elections commissioner Tom Turco was notified by a person or persons, yet to be identified, that the driveway of 352 Galli Curci Road extends into Ulster, but that the living quarters are in Delaware.
“We immediately notified Kathy and corrected the records,” Dittus said. Nolan said when she was advised of the mistake in early February (just prior to party nominating conventions), she moved in with a friend in Mt. Tremper, well within the county line.
In the meantime, something of a cottage conspiracy sprang up. Anonymous sources notified the county legislature that Nolan, by “moving into Delaware” had forfeited her office since the county charter (cited in the correspondence) clearly stated that a legislator had to maintain an in-district residence in order to remain in office. Nolan, however inadvertently, had been living in Delaware for the better part of five months during which she twice voted in Ulster County elections, one primary, the other general. One of the more active, visible legislators, she continued to carry out her official duties.
Sounding more exasperated than embarrassed over the phone, Nolan said, “I think a fair-minded person would be satisfied with the actions the board of elections has taken.” Welcome to the NFL, Dr. Nolan.
Parete said he had no intention of raising the “residency issue” in their June primary for the (all but determinate) Democratic nomination, “but (that) a lot of my supporters were concerned about it.” She was, after all, the Ulster legislator from Delaware for almost half a year, although acting in every respect like a resident representative. One pauses here to wonder why the demonstrably intelligent Nolan would even consider deliberately moving out of her district. Are the rents that cheap in Delaware?
Nolan says she wouldn’t be talking about residence issues, but couldn’t seem to resist a Parete-like aside. “My supporters find it curious that a legislator who has never (her emphasis) lived in the district would raise issues of residency,” she said.
Parete has always claimed residency in Olive, home to the family-owned Boiceville Inn, while raising his family in Marbletown. His son, Richie, like his siblings, is a graduate of Rondout Valley High School, and a former legislator who represented Marbletown-Hurley. Parete is seeking a second term as Marbletown supervisor.
Some may wonder why I rehash a story that began almost a year ago and seems moot. It’s just that I like to give readers some insight into the inside machinations that can sometimes – but not in this case – produce significant results. Now it’s time to put aside this surrogate sniping and focus on the real issue of who in this rematch will better represent the district, incumbent Kathy Nolan or former legislator John Parete. Or as Parete put it, “let the people decide.”