Dems Take Three Town Board Seats

Shea leads team to victory

By Kevin E. Foley and Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Leveraging a demographic advantage, a strong organizational core and a message of incumbent accomplishment, the Philipstown Democrats won the race for town supervisor and the other two seats open on the Town Board. All five board positions are held by Democrats.

John Van Tassel, Richard Shea and first-time candidate Michael Leonard

John Van Tassel, Richard Shea and first-time candidate Michael Leonard (photo by K.E. Foley)

Running unopposed for his third term as supervisor, Richard Shea led the way for incumbent John Van Tassel and first-time candidate Michael Leonard. Shea received 1,751 votes according to the unofficial total by the Putnam County Board of Elections. Van Tassel had 1,585 and Leonard 1,382.

Republican/Conservative candidate Lee Erickson, who had argued during the campaign that the board needed to include a non-Democratic voice, trailed with 1,127 votes. Erickson lost two years ago when he challenged Shea for the supervisor’s job.

Running only on the Conservative line, Cathy Sapeta, a first-time candidate, received 657 votes.

“We always keep it positive, we run on our own merits, we have a proven track record,” declared Shea as he thanked an enthusiastic audience of campaign workers in a private home in Nelsonville. Shea emphasized community building as a central tenet of his team’s agenda going forward.

“There are so many people that have to be there to make it happen,” a grateful Leonard told the group. “I will do the best job I possibly can,” he promised.

“It’s truly an honor to have served you for the last four years and I must have done something right because I am getting the shot again,” said Van Tassel. While thanking campaign workers Van Tassel also paid tribute to Betty Budney, a long-serving board member who did not run for reelection.

At the Depot Restaurant in Cold Spring about three-quarters of a mile down Main Street, the Republicans acknowledged their defeat and vowed to maintain a strong presence in the town to counter the Democratic bloc.

Erickson termed the run “a good try. Two years from now we’ll be back again. We’ve got to press on. We’ve got to stay vigilant. I won’t stand for that complacency that allows fresh perspectives to vanish,” he said. He added that he would run again “if the opportunity presents itself” and overall “will be back, making sure people hear my voice loud and strong.”

He again expressed concern about issues raised in his campaign: the lack of an adequate senior citizen center, the subdivision of land by the non-profit Open Space Conservancy around the town recreation center, and some choices in town spending – “I don’t want to see tax dollars wasted on dirt roads [washing out] every time it rains.”

Philipstown Republican Party Chairman Mike LaRocco said he was “obviously disappointed” at Erickson’s loss, believing he “would have made a huge difference on the town council [board].” He thanked the party faithful, telling them “we ran a really solid race and I think we brought a lot of issues to the forefront. The Republican Party in this town is revitalizing itself.”

Erickson’s fellow Conservative Party candidate, Cathy Sapeta, did not attend the gathering.

Here are the complete, unofficial election results from Putnam County Board of Elections:


John Van Tassel 1,585
Michael Leonard 1,382
Lee Erickson 1,127
Cathy Sapeta 657

Other unofficial results:

9th Judicial District

Mark C. Dillon
John P. Colangelo
Victor G. Grossman
John W. Sweeny, Jr.
Daniel D. Angiolillo


Donald B. Smith


Richard Shea

PROPOSALS (Putnam County totals only)

See an explanation of each proposal here.

ONE: Casino Gambling

Yes 9,509
No 5,309

TWO: Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans

Yes 11,988
No 2,250

THREE: Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities

Yes 7,336
No 5,838

FOUR: Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve

Yes 9,648
No 3,619

FIVE: Land Exchange in State Forest for NYCO Minerals Inc.

Yes 6,986
No 6,377

SIX: Increasing Age Until Which Certain State Judges Can Serve

Yes 4,905
No 9,082

One thought on “Dems Take Three Town Board Seats

  1. Congratulations to Rich, John and Mike. They showed that quality rises to the top. With the addition of Mike Leonard, the Board will continue in the manner for which it has been noted over the last thirty years: appointing committee and board members to town boards regardless of party or philosophy. And it is especially notable that the Town Board now has a member from Continental Village for the first time in nearly 30 years. And thank you to all those residents who voted.