Early this month, Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans expressed surprise that there would be any contests or campaigning in the 2021 village elections, given the spikes and surges of COVID-19. “I can’t see anyone wanting to go door-to-door in a pandemic,” he said.
Evans was almost right. Village elections are Tuesday, but you would hardly know it. Races are scarce. Opposition in the five Greene County villages and four Columbia County villages is limited. But there are issues. Vacancies must be filled. And changes will be evident.
Life after COVID will be the order of the day. In Athens, a new mayor and two trustees candidates, one attempting a comeback and the other a newcomer, will take their places on the board. Amy Serrago, Joshua Lipsman and Nancy Poylo will continue the village’s work and try out new ideas.
The liveliest Greene County race will be in Catskill, where incumbent Republicans Peter Grasse III and Gregory Smith face challenges from Democratic newcomers Mercedes Brantley and Andres “Andy” Gonzalez. And then there is the matter of choosing a successor to Vincent Seeley, who stepped down from the board after a long tenure as village president.
In Tannersville, incumbent Mayor Lee McGunnigle and incumbent trustees David Kashman and Greg Landers are running unopposed, as are Evans and incumbent trustees Donald Daoust and Stephen Hanse in Coxsackie. The village of Hunter does not hold an election this year.
In Columbia County there is only one contested race, in the village of Philmont. Incumbent Village Trustee Brian Johnson is running uncontested to fill the seat being vacated by Mayor Clarence “Skip” Speed, who is not running for re-election. Three candidates are vying for two seats on the village board — incumbents Douglas Cropper and Larry Ostrander, with newcomer Jason Detzel making a bid for a board seat.
There are three uncontested races in Columbia County. In Chatham, Mayor John Howe and trustees Jaimee Boehme and Peter Minahan are running unopposed for re-election. In Kinderhook there are two seats up for grabs with incumbents James Mark Browne and David Flaherty on the ballot. The fourth race, in Valatie, is uncontested with Mayor Frank Bevens and Trustee Larry Eleby Sr. running for re-election, and newcomer Sean Casey running unopposed for the second open trustee seat.
The presence of COVID-19 altered the voting landscape for the village elections, but getting out to vote Tuesday is still important. Take a few moments to help determine the future course of your village.