WARRENSBURG - Despite hard-fought campaigns to oust public officials around Warren County, incumbents in nearly all races were able to hold onto their posts in government.
The competition was fiery in Warrensburg, where Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, who's served many years on the town board, turned back an aggressive challenge launched by funeral home owner Maynard D. Baker. Backed by two rebel town board members and council candidate Bryan Rounds, Baker fought on the planks of cutting taxes and downsizing government.
Although losing in the September Republican Primary, Geraghty's supporters fought back to secure a modest 637-549 margin in Tuesday's vote, a tally that's not likely to be overturned by the 100 or so outstanding absentee ballots next week.
For Warrensburg Town Board, incumbent trustee and funeral home owner John Alexander (R) came out on top with 687 votes, followed by former town Planning Board member and chair Bryan Rounds (R), a Baker ally with 610 votes. Incumbent Joseph Barlow (C,I) 547, an insurance executive and a political moderate, was ousted with 547 votes.
Baker had alleged that Geraghty had been extravagant with the taxpayers' money - which Geraghty supporters vehemently disputed. Then just last week, the Baker-Rounds campaign took an ugly turn last Thursday when they placed an ad in the Adirondack Journal accusing long-time town Public Works Superintendent Rick Galusha of neglecting the town sewer plant, prompting a state mandate of a $500,000 expansion that would result in Galusha's personal gain -- but both were patently false allegations. Galusha took out a full-page ad in the area daily newspaper disputing the claims, and political observers say that the false allegations hurt Baker, not Geraghty as they were intended to -- maybe costing him the election. Baker denied knowledge of the ad's origin this week when confronted by the daily's editor.
Geraghty said he was pleased to win, particularly because it was very difficult to win on an independent line in Warrensburg, a staunchly Republican town.
"Desite all the negative campaigning, people recognized that I've been doing a good job, and I appreciate it," Geraghty said. Geraghty, who shuns door-to-door campaigning, was up against Baker, who some say knocked on most every door in town.
"I didn't like some of Baker's strategies, but he's a consummate campaigner," Geraghty said late Tuesday night.
Too Close to Call in lake George
Competition was also heated in Lake George, where Councilman Frank McCoy, trained and anointed by retiring Supervisor Lou Tessier, garnered a slim 592- 584 margin over former Town Supervisor Dennis L. Dickinson (D), a professional engineer who campaigned to open up local government and make it more responsive.
McCoy had to overcome the allegations that he represented a continuation of a good-ole-boy network that maintained a stranglehold on local politics. With as many as 100 absentee ballots to count, the race is still undecided despite McCoy's margin.
For the town board seats, status quo was victorious in a five-way free-for-all.
Vincent Crocitto (R,Ic), seven-year councilman since 2002, 582 was on top, followed by Fran Heinrich (R) with 581 votes, who was promoted by the local G.O.P. power brokers. They were trailed by former Lake George Village Trustee Marisa Muratori with 421 votes. Muratori was known for her innovative solutions to issues, but may have been hampered by running under a Democratic label after not gaining the support of her Republican Party. Iconoclastic, straight-talk candidate George McGowan, who said the town government was run with secrecy and a dictatorial approach, netted 355 votes. Janie Green (D) trailed with 183 votes.
Independent Candidate Pitkin Wins in Thurman
In Thurman, new Supervisor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin (Ic.,I) defeated long-time assessor Thomas "Tuck" Birdsall (R), another straight-talking non-politician, in a vote of 212 to 163. Democratic candidate Randy Oppitz dropped out of the race last week, but he still received 13 votes.
For two open board seats, the incumbents won their seats back. Former Warrensburg Central School Athletic Director Albert Vasak (R) received 267 votes, and incumbent Charles Bills (R) garnered 196. Former Town Justice candidate Glenda Duell (I), who for many months has kept informed on town issues and offered unconventional solutions to town problems, received 2 votes.
Bolton, Stony Creek, Horicon and Hague results
In the town of Bolton, Republican Ronald Conover (R,Ic.), a retired city planner with extensive public polic experience, won the Supervisor post, beating former Supervisor Alexander "Zandy" Gabriels (I) 650 to 185. For two town board seats, incumbent Owen James Maranville (R, Ic) came out on top with 599, followed by Gregory R. Smith (R) with 598, both shutting out Ed Corcoran (D) with 196. For Highway Superintendent, incumbent Timothy A. Coon (R) 482, defeated challenger William A. Sherman (I) in a vote of 482-333. Anton Cooper (C) received 20 votes.
In Stony Creek, incumbent Town Supervisor Frank Thomas (R,Ic), known for his common-sense approach to county issues, was re-elected with 247 votes, rebuffing a challenge by Tara Tremaine Fisher (C) who had 83 votes. Incumbent Superintendent of Highways Neil Bradley (R,I) apparently turned back a challenge by Ian Thomas (I) in a 196-148 vote.
For the town board, Harry Paul Gill (I) was on top with 216 votes, followed by incumbent Bill Liebl (R) with 127, and Gus Kanakis (C) with 79.
In Johnsburg, three candidates were vying for the town board. Arnold F. Stevens (R) was on top with 299 votes, Ronald G. Vanselow (D) was next with 292 votes, and Roger Mosher received 81.
For Highway Superintendent, Daniel B. Hitchcock won the post with 289 votes to Frederick T. Comstock's 176 ballots.
In Hague, Incumbent Supervisor Daniel D. Belden (R) fought off a challenge by Rudolph T. Meola in a 245-126 vote. For Hague Town Council, Edna Frasier received 279 votes, followed by 197 for Mark Martucci and 171 for Maryann Eaton.