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GOP picks up 4 Greene County Legislature seats

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    Matthew Luvera
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    Linda Overbaugh
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    Michael Bulich
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    Jack Keller
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    Ed Bloomer
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    William Lawrence
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    Harry Lennon
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    Patty Handel
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    Contributed photoJim Thorington
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    Logan Weiss/Columbia Greene Media Charles Martinez is one of two incumbents running for District 2 - Coxsackie. Martinez has been on the Greene County legislatures since 1980. He is running on the republican ticket.
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    Contributed Photo. Pat Linger is seeking reelection for his second term as a legislature. Linger is a life long Greene County citizen. He is running on the Republican ticket
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    Contributed photo. Thomas Hobart is seeking reelection for district 2 - Coxsackie. He was first elected in 2015 and is running republican. Hobart is a Marine Corp. Veteran.
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    Greg Davis
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    Contributed photoLarry Gardner
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    C-GM File PhotoPeter Markou
November 7, 2018 05:16 pm

Republicans expanded their control over the Greene County Legislature on Tuesday by picking up four seats — going from 8-6 to a 12-2 majority.

CATSKILL

District 1 had the four Republican candidates in the lead Wednesday prior to the Greene County Board of Elections counting of absentee ballots.

Incumbent Michael Bulich received 2,402 votes, newcomer Jack Keller Sr. had 2,030 votes, Incumbent Matthew Luvera received 2,358 votes and 2,207 votes were cast at the polls for incumbent Linda Overbaugh.

Democrats Christopher Hamilton received 1,565 votes Tuesday while Joseph Kozloski had 1,966 votes.

Bulich plans to continue focusing on the county’s work with the community college, he said Wednesday.

“We want the college to have more trade-based courses for local kids,” he said. “I also want to make sure the jail facility is under-budget, on-time and the proper size.”

Although voters strengthened the county Legislature’s Republican majority, political affiliation is of little importance, Bulich said.

“It’s not about Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “It’s about getting the job done for the best price possible for taxpayers.”

Hamilton was thrilled with the turnout, he said.

“Obviously, I wish it went my way, but it very heart-warming to see,” Hamilton said. “I hope that turnout continues — we need people to be active in politics.”

Hamilton plans to continue to demand transparency of local government.

“In three years, I am planning on running again and having a better campaign,” he said. “I want to get a young thought process into the Legislature. That’s what we need.”

Keller was very pleased with the large turnout for the election, he said.

“That’s what it’s all about, and whatever happens, happens,” he said. “It’s a government for the people, by the people.”

Keller plans to diligently attend meetings and make the right decisions for constituents.

“I want to continue to put to bed the jail issue,” he said. “It’s also important to make sure there isn’t over-expenditures or corruption within the budget.”

Kozloski is hopeful the absentee ballots may change the outcome of the vote, he said.

“I’m only 64 behind and they haven’t counted the absentee ballots yet,” he said.

If elected, Kozloski said the jail facility and opioid crisis would priorities for him.

In the event Kozloski does not secure a seat with the absentee ballot count, he will finish out his term on the village board, he said.

“I have no plans of running again,” he said.

Luvera was grateful to all those who supported him in the election.

“I want to thank voters for their confidence in me,” he said, “I will continue to serve as their voice.”

Luvera plans to work on improving cell phone service in the county, continuing to keep an eye on government spending, create more career-ready programs with Columbia-Greene Community College and promote positive things that are happening in the community, he said.

Overbaugh could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.

COXSACKIE

Two incumbents will return to Coxsackie’s seats on the county Legislature.

Republicans Charles A. Martinez and Thomas M. Hobart were each elected to another three-year term.

Martinez won his seat with 1,884 votes and Hobart received 1,799 votes.

Martinez has been a member of the Greene County Legislature since his first election in 1980.

“I’m happy for the opportunity to serve Coxsackie and Greene County again,” Martinez said. “I think the most important project is getting the county jail built and keeping it under budget, keep our sales tax level where its at, encourage people to buy local, encourage people to keep grocery shopping in Greene County and promote Greene County — it’s a great place to live in.

“I want to keep the taxes low, just keep things going the way they are going,” he added. “We have the lowest taxes in the state. I am happy to return and go fill the obligations for the Greene County Legislature.”

Hobart could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.

ATHENS

In a tight race, Republican Ed Bloomer is the apparent winner over Democrat Michael Pirrone.

Bloomer won with 881 votes and Pirrone secured 731 votes. Tuesday was Bloomer’s second time running for the third-district seat.

“I’m excited to get my feet under the desk,” Bloomer said. “I am very grateful to the voters and people in the town of Athens. I will serve them to the best of their abilities.

“We both raced a high-level campaign — it was a contentious race, but we stayed above that and I congratulated him on that,” Bloomer said of Pirrone.

Bloomer thanked Athens Legislator Lee Palmateer for his service.

“Everyone thinks that the work ends when the campaign is finished, but the real work starts after the campaign,” Bloomer said.

“I am very happy about the outcome — I feel that I did everything that I should have done,” Pirrone said. “I worked very hard and I did all the things that I should have done, I am happy about the results. I am the same person as I was the day before the election and during the election, I will continue to serve the people of Athens anyway I can.

Pirrone does not plan to run in the future, he said.

“I am involved in several committees that have projects going on and will continue with that,” he said.

GREENVILLE

Candidate Gregory Davis received 1,143 votes in an uncontested race.

Davis was impressed by the amount of Republicans elected, he said Wednesday.

“We pretty much had a red tidal wave,” he added.

Davis has a broad approach to his first term in office, he said.

“I plan to work hard and do what I can for the people of Greene County,” Davis said, adding current Greenville Legislator and Legislature Chairman Kevin Lewis, who did not seek re-election, would be a hard act to follow.

NEW BALTIMORE

Democrat James H. Eckl received 530 votes Tuesday and 913 votes were cast at the polls for incumbent Republican Patrick S. Linger.

Losing Tuesday’s election was a bitter disappointment, Eckl said.

“But that’s the way democracy works,” he added.

Eckl has no firm plans to run for office again, he said Wednesday.

“I have no firm plans to run again, but I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

Linger was relatively happy with the outcome of the Legislature race.

“Voters made a big statement by giving Republicans a strong majority,” he said. “It shows what they are looking to see done.”

Linger plans to continue focusing on upgrading the community college, EMS services and moving forward on the jail project.

“We are always looking for ways to draw people to the area and increase revenue,” he said.

WINDHAM, ASHLAND, JEWETT, PRATTSVILLE

Incumbent Democrat Lori Torgersen did not seek re-election, but remained on the ballot and received 416 votes.

Torgersen announced she was withdrawing from the race in October.

“I’ve had more people say ‘I’m really sorry, but I voted for you,’” Torgersen said.

While Torgersen won’t continue her tenure on the Legislature, she will commit to spending her time shedding light on issues and organizing the electorate to demand accountability and transparency from lawmakers, she said.

“I feel extremely discouraged about the outlooks for Greene County,” Torgersen said.

Torgersen hopes her successor will put the interests of the county first and work hard

“I encourage him to make decisions that are grounded in evidence and fact and are the best interest of the county,” Torgersen said. “I encourage him to think on his own as an independent member of the Legislature.”

Thorington could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

HUNTER, HALCOTT, LEXINGTON

Incumbent Democratic Legislator Larry Gardner ran unopposed and won the bid for the Legislature’s 7th District seat receiving 1,056 votes.

Gardner will enter his 14th term in January.

Gardner is happy to get back to work serving the residents of his district, he said Wednesday.

“I wanted to and want to continue doing a good job for the residents of Hunter, Lexington and Halcott,” he said.

For Gardner, the Legislature’s looming issue is the jail project and he wants to make sure the project is done efficiently, he said, while also saving money wherever possible.

“The biggest issue still remains the jail and seeing the project through,” Gardner said.

CAIRO

Incumbent legislators Republican William Lawrence and Democrat Harry Lennon ran unopposed to keep their seats representing District 8.

Lawrence received 1,778 votes Tuesday and 1,397 votes were cast for Lennon at the polls.

Lawrence will be serving his 13th term in January.

Cairo residents have been more than generous in supporting Lawrence during his re-election campaign, he said.

“I was happy to get back in,” Lawrence said. “The people of Cairo have been very good to me.”

Lawrence is optimistic for the next term because of the crop of new legislators joining the ranks and familiar faces returning, he said Wednesday.

“I think it’s going to be a good hardworking group of men and women,” Lawrence said.

Some of the lawmakers’ upcoming agenda items include closing out the year with some excess funds in the budget, getting bids out for the Greene County Jail project and continuing to look at economic development initiatives, Lawrence said.

“I’m looking forward to the next term,” he said. “It’s going to be a very fruitful one.”

Lennon could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.

DURHAM

Republican Patricia Handel ran for Durham’s vacant Legislature seat unopposed.

Handel took home 714 votes Tuesday.

Handel is not a newcomer to county politics — she finished an unexpired term in 2011 and then returned to the Legislature from 2013 to 2015. She did not run in 2015 because of business commitments.

Handel could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.

GREENE COUNTY TREASURER

Incumbent Greene County Treasurer Republican Peter Markou easily defeated Democratic challenger Tannersville Mayor Lee McGunnigle on Tuesday to win a new term.

Markou received 10,612 votes to McGunnigle’s 6,400, according to the county Board of Elections.

All election results are unofficial pending certification by the Board of Elections.