Big Election Year for Congress and State Legislature

Local county legislative seat also on ballot

By Kevin E. Foley

This year on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, Philipstown voters will have a full ballot to fill out. From the highest office in the country to the race for county legislator, the political landscape holds many choices and consequences for the nation, state, county and town.

Atop the ballot will be Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama pitted against Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts. Although we will certainly hear a great deal about this race through various media, we in New York state are unlikely to be bombarded with television and other forms of advertising.

Our constitutional system requires a candidate to win electoral votes based on victories in individual states. Accordingly, the presidential candidates focus resources and campaign time in states considered battlegrounds in the current parlance. Obama won New York state by a over a million votes in 2008 and is also expected to do very well this year. Pity the voters or television watchers in Ohio, Florida, Virginia or Colorado who by now probably hunger for beer and toothpaste commercials.

Hoping to no doubt take advantage of the president’s popularity in the state, incumbent U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand will seek a new, full six-year term this year. Democrats currently control the Senate but nationally Republicans are pressing hard to win the four more seats needed for them to prevail. Gillibrand’s opponent, New York City lawyer Wendy Long, isn’t on the list of serious contenders —  unfortunately, for her — depriving her of the level of funding needed to run a competitive race.

Appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. David Paterson when Hillary Clinton stepped down to become Secretary of State, Gillibrand won her race handily to fill out the term in 2010.

The races below the national and statewide level all take place in newly configured districts redrawn by the state legislature in the aftermath of the 2010 census. Based on results from recent elections, Democratic candidates will have a distinct advantage within Philipstown, but generally the larger districts are more competitive.

House

This year’s congressional race takes place in the reconfigured (by a federal court) 18th District that has Philipstown near its center. Rep. Nan Hayworth, the Republican incumbent, is still in the new district at its most southern end in Bedford in Westchester. Hayworth is a one-term representative seeking re-election in a district thought to be more Democratic in registration than two years ago.

Nationally Republicans are trying to hold on to a majority in the House of Representatives, and they view Hayworth’s seat as winnable, so she will have resources to wage an intense battle with Democratic challenger Sean Maloney.

Maloney won a five-way primary race handily with significant union support and the strongest fundraising operation. As of June 30, he lagged Hayworth by nearly $1 million in

campaign funds. Hayworth, however, has recently complained that a national Democratic political action committee is going to spend $1.2 million to attack her record on Maloney’s behalf. In 2010 Hayworth beat then-incumbent John Hall by 10,000 votes out of 210,000 cast.

Ball no longer in Senate district

Republican State Sen. Steven Saland replaces Sen. Greg Ball as the incumbent in the race for the 41st District seat with newly drawn lines that have Philipstown in a district that goes as far north as Rhinebeck. Using Poughkeepsie as his base, Saland will try to leverage his 22 years of service and a generally conservative voting record into a victory among some voters who don’t know him.

Most recently Saland is best known for his vote this past legislative session for the gay-marriage bill promoted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Saland faces a Republican primary challenge on Sept. 13 from Neil DiCarlo of Carmel largely because of that vote.

Challenging Saland is Democrat Terry Gipson, a businessman and member of the Rhinebeck Village Board of Trustees. Gipson has campaigned vigorously throughout the re-drawn district and did so extensively before the legislature announced that parts of the area he was working would not be in the district. He is focusing his campaign on job creation, education, women’s rights and reforming the way the state capitol operates.

State Assembly

The new 95th Assembly District looks very similar to the district Democrat Sandy Galef has represented for 20 years, not surprising given Galef’s seniority as a member of the majority in the Assembly, which drew the lines. The Ossining-based Galef is well known and active in the district, holding forums on issues and appearing often at Philipstown events. She has championed government reform including consolidation of services, property-tax relief, environmental protection, and senior-citizen services, among other issues.

Her opponent, Republican Kim Izzarelli, a Briarcliff employee-benefits consultant and community activist, will have an uphill struggle to overcome Galef’s name recognition and broad support. Her campaign so far emphasizes reduced state spending, lower property and other taxes, and controlling healthcare and pension costs.

County Legislature

Current Philipstown District 1 representative to the Putnam County Legislature, Vinny Tamagna, is leaving office because of term limits. He is expected to take a position in the administration of MaryEllen Odell, the county executive.

Two former Philipstown Town Board members, Democrat Steven Rosario and Republican Barbara Scuccimarra, are contending for the position, part of a nine-member legislative body.  Both so far have emphasized their previous Town Board and related experience as preparing them to do an effective job.

Scuccimarra was known for a cooperative, hands-across-the-table attitude while serving on the Town Board. However, when she ran for re-election as a member of the Republican ticket, which emphasized party affiliation and fidelity, she lost.

Rosario, a lawyer and chemical trade group representative, served on the Town Board in the mid-1990s. He later lost  to Tamagna in his first bid for the county legislator seat.

Philipstown.info & The Paper intend to present text and video interviews with all the candidates who make themselves available as well as running a selection of opinion articles the candidates submit.


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