By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Officials in Philipstown generally expressed optimism about continued good relations with the federal, state, or county governments following tempestuous national elections that swept many incumbents from power in favor of newcomers, often “Tea Party”-oriented Republicans.
The officials, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea, Cold Spring Mayor Seth Gallagher, and Nelsonville Trustee Anthony D. Merante, all also crossed party lines to mention delight at the election of a Republican, State Sen. Vincent Leibell, as Putnam County executive, who defeated Mary Ellen Odell, who ran on the Independence Party line.
Voters in the 19th Congressional District ousted a Democrat, two-term Rep. John Hall, a musician, environmental advocate, and leading member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, in favor of a Republican, Dr. Nan Hayworth, an ophthalmologist. In the race for the 40th State Senate seat, Assemblyman Greg Ball, Republican, defeated Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, a Democrat, to succeed Leibell. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, a Democrat, won re-election in the 90th district. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, also won in their bids to be returned to the U.S. Senate.
“I don’t foresee any changes as far as relationships with municipal governments go,” Gallagher said. Cold Spring officials do not run on formally partisan, Republican or Democratic tickets and Gallagher both endorsed Republican Leibell before the election and was involved in Democratic Party activities in the past. He said he hopes the per capita state aid and funding for such projects as highways can continue as the new governor, Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, tries to solve state budget problems. Closer to home, Gallagher said, he expects good and perhaps improved relations with the county once Leibell takes office. “I think Leibell will be a good county executive and there will be good things for people on this side of the county” as a result, the mayor said. “He’s been really good as a state senator. I think he will treat all parts of Putnam County equally and we’ll get a little more attention.”
Local residents have often suggested the rest of the county, including officials in Carmel and Brewster miles to the east, tends to ignore or shun Philipstown in the western end of Putnam. “The election of Vinnie Leibell will be good for Philipstown and Nelsonville because, for one thing, of our support for him for some time now, and, secondly, he has been a friend of this side of the county for years,” Merante told Philipstown.info.
“I say, `welcome home, Vinnie,'” said Shea, a Democrat. “We have always had a good relationship with Senator — now County Executive-elect — Leibell. Vinnie is someone who is willing to work with anyone who has the best interest of the residents of Putnam County at heart.”
In terms of the state, “I feel strongly that we finally have the governor we need at such a difficult time,” Shea said. “Governor-elect Cuomo has been to Philipstown and I actually had the pleasure of meeting him. I see him as someone with a clear vision for what it will take to make New York great for all New Yorkers.” And in the Assembly, “Sandy Galef has been fighting for regular, working-class people in this district since the day she was elected. She embodies the reform that must come to Albany. I hope that others will follow her lead on school tax reform, ethics, and the environment.” He said he could not comment on what might happen with Hayworth and Ball in office.
“We — meaning the people of the Town of Philipstown — had a good relationship with Congressman Hall and found him quite accessible,” Shea said. “He spent a lot of time here in Philipstown, which gave him a real working knowledge of the issues that are important to our residents.” So far, he added, “I have never met either Nan Hayworth or Greg Ball. I do look forward to working for what’s best for Philipstown with both if them.”
Merante, also a Democrat, sounded a more skeptical note. “Do they even know where Philipstown is located?” he asked of Ball and Hayworth. “They haven’t a clue what is on this side of the Taconic Parkway. I expect their elections to have no positive impact, especially if they have any luck carrying out their pledges of the campaign. But since Ball has never gotten a bill through the Assembly, I don’t expect much from him in the Senate.” As for the new Congresswoman-elect, “Hayworth is so beholden to the money interests that support her, we are not in her sphere of influence or concern,” Merante said. And in Albany, “We’ll have to see how effective Cuomo will be.”
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