ATHENS — A former president of the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary and a former Athens town supervisor will run against each other in a special election in November to succeed Greene County Legislator Gene Hatton.
Republican Ed Bloomer and Democrat Lee Palmateer will square off for Hatton’s seat representing Athens.
Hatton died Aug. 23 of a massive heart attack. He was 66.
Bloomer was formally nominated Wednesday by the Greene County Republican Committee. Palmateer accepted the nomination from the Athens Democratic Party Committee on Thursday.
The winner will serve the remainder of Hatton’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2018.
Bloomer, a political newcomer, said his candidacy will be an opportunity to do good work for the community. Bloomer considered Hatton a friend and said he will try to emulate Hatton’s approachability and dedication to his community.
“It’s a pretty big pair of shoes to fill,” Bloomer said. “Gene was everywhere, he loved the community and it showed.”
The major issues facing the legislature are the county budget and the new Greene County Jail project. Bloomer said the latter will be settled before Election Day.
When constituents attend meetings to voice concerns, Bloomer said he will listen and see what he and his fellow lawmakers can do.
“As far as I can see right now, the jail issue seems to be moving forward,” Bloomer said. “Right now the county is in good shape.”
If Bloomer wins, he will consider running for a full term on the legislature when elections for all 14 legislature seats roll around in 2018, he said. If elected, Bloomer said he will use good judgment and listen to the pros and cons of every issue that comes before the legislature.
“You have to try to keep a level head and an open mind,” Bloomer said.
Bloomer is a lifelong Athens resident and lives with his fiancee Tami Bone.
The Athens Republican Committee selected Bloomer for his involvement in volunteer work including serving in the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary Club and the Athens Community Food Pantry, Athens Republican Committee Chairman John Farrell said Thursday. Bloomer has also served on the town’s zoning and planning boards.
“Ed has done a tremendous job on all levels,” Farrell said. “We feel he is an excellent candidate moving the town forward.”
The committee was looking for someone who can be available 24/7 and Farrell said Bloomer’s family has been in Athens for many years.
“He’s no stranger to anybody in the town and the village,” Farrell said.
Greene County Republican Chairman Brent Bogardus said Bloomer is an excellent choice for a legislature candidate and said he will follow in Hatton’s footsteps well.
“The expectation is that he will run and continue serving in the same capacity and the same fashion as Gene served,” Bogardus said. “They were of like minds.”
The Greene County Democratic Committee approved Palmateer’s nomination at its meeting in Cairo on Thursday. Palmateer said he feels honored that the party chose him to run.
“I take it as a great vote of confidence,” Palmateer said. “I look forward to representing the party as well as all of the people of Athens.”
In a statement from the committee, Greene County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Doreen Davis and Athens Democratic Committee Chairwoman Catherine Censor touted Palmateer as a highly qualified candidate.
“Greene County is faced with a number of highly challenging issues and I can’t think of a better candidate equipped to make an immediate contribution than Lee Palmateer,” Davis said in the statement.
Palmateer has a history of public service as town supervisor from 2010 to 2013 and a member of the Coxsackie-Athens Board of Education. He said serving as a legislator will signify a higher level.
“It’s just another way for me to represent the people of Athens and this time in a new capacity,” Palmateer said.
Palmateer and Hatton were friends and worked together on the Athens Town Board and the St. Patrick’s Church board.
“I truly respected Gene in every way,” Palmateer said.
Palmateer said it is too early to choose the issues he most wants to tackle because he was approached about a week ago to run.
“Right now, it would be premature because I don’t know enough about any particular issue to take a position,” Palmateer said. “I want to be a productive member of the legislature.”
Palmateer said his background in law and engineering will be beneficial to him as a lawmaker because he can take underlying facts and then analyze them.
“I think that’s one of my capabilities I bring to the board,” Palmateer said.
If Palmateer wins the seat, he will consider a run for a full three-year term in 2018.
Palmateer is an Athens native who, with his wife Nancy, has raised three sons.
“I am lucky and proud that I can call Athens and Greene County my home,” Palmateer said in the statement. “I look forward to doing my part as we continue down our path to a bright future” he said.