The morning after – REVISED

As Oscar Wylde once observed, “I can resist everything except temptation.”  Tuned into the World Series Tuesday night, I couldn’t resist the temptation of reporting early unofficial returns of this year’s elections.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t over until it was over.  Ergo, this update is filed with complete unofficial returns.  Please disregard the previous post.

Ulster County got a good look at what one-party rule looks like on Tuesday, Election Day. Except for Democrats, it was pretty dull, actually.

The big news coming out of this year’s “local elections” is that Democrats, who had clung to a 12-11 majority in the county legislature, claimed 16, maybe 17 seats. Democrat nominee Phil Erner, with strong support from Democratic Socialists of America, won a three-way battle in Kingston legislative District Six. More on that later.

Democratic candidates for county clerk, comptroller and family court judge ran unopposed. Nina Postupack, seeking her fifth term as clerk on the Republican line, was cross-endorsed by Democrats. Three unopposed Democrats ran for seats on the state Supreme Court. Soon to be former city corporation counsel Kevin Bryan led that ticket.

All six propositions on the back of the ballot carried by wide margins. What? Forgot to flip it over?

(In another one of those mindless glitches that seem to plague the board of elections, this year’s early returns recorded vote counts, but not the number of precincts. Those stats were posted before midnight.)

Most of the races weren’t even close, another indication of Democratic dominance. The only squeaker I spotted was the contest for alderman in the city’s Seventh Ward where Republican Mike Olivieri holds a 54 vote lead over Laura Nordstrom. Elsewhere in the wards, Democrats took every seat. Ninth Ward Democratic Michele Hirsch had no major party opposition, but write-in candidate Scott Denny polled 22 per cent (119 votes), something quite remarkable with write-in candidates. Denny could be a future draft pick.

The race in Kingston legislative District Six has held the public’s attention since newcomer Phil Erner upset legislative chairman Dave Donaldson in the June Democratic primary. On Tuesday, Erner proved it was no fluke in leading Donaldson 883 to 367.  Republican candidate Suzanne Timbrouck, with 574 votes, finished in second place, a most respectful run.  Donaldson will no doubt blame Timbrouck for his embarrassing turnout. A visit to a nearby mirror would be a good idea.  

The question now is whether Erner will caucus with Democrats, not that it matters. With 16 solid, Dems can afford a few dissenters. Even so, a “veto proof” legislature majority could be problematic for county exec Pat Ryan.

And speaking of rebels, on again, off again Joe Maloney skated to victory in Saugerties. Maloney’s been all over the place, elected as a Republican four years ago and then switching to Democrats after taking office.

If history repeats, Maloney will be going through Ryan’s campaign spending reports with a fine-toothed comb, as he did – to no avail – with former executive Mike Hein.

For Republicans, who will bury former chairman Roger Rascoe on Saturday (he died last on Friday), this year’s elections have to be the low point in a history that dates to Lincoln. If it’s any consolation, and it isn’t, they have nowhere to go but up.

They may get some help from Democrats. Having devastated the opposition, they now have only each other to feast on. Word around the polling places Tuesday night was that long-time assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Kingston may face a primary challenge from one of Erner’s left-wing party mates.

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IN PASSING – Alice Tipp of Saugerties, believed to be the first woman elected to the county legislature and its longest serving member until two years ago, died in her mid-90s last week.

Alice was elected on the Republican ticket in the early 70s on the same night as Mary McMickle.  Alice always claimed to be first since her district results came in before Mary’s. Nobody argued with Alice.

One of my favorite stories about the Tipp/McMickle feud came from McMickle. As she told it, “The legislative contingent was marching in the Fourth of July parade when just before we turned the corner onto Main Street Alice fell into a pothole, right on her face. She bounced to her feet, a little stunned. We held her up as we marched past the reviewing stand. Nobody dared laugh, of course, but a guy on the curb yelled out, ‘Look at those legislators. They had tears in their eyes when they passed the flag!’”

Alice cut her political teeth with a mid-70s anti-tax outfit called WHITA (We’ve Had It Taxpayers Association), but was a moderate in the legislature. “We should run our government like I run my kitchen,” she liked to say.

After being defeated by Democratic Gary Bishoff in 2005, Alice took a position as ombudsman for a senior citizen complex in Saugerties.

Alice enjoyed a long, active, vigorous life. Many were surprised at her passing, even in advanced old age.

A widow for many years, she leaves a daughter and a son and grandchildren and nephew, Don Williams, a former county judge.

Our condolences to the family and thanks to Alice for the memories.