Cold Spring Election Signals Changes

Referendum is official

By Michael Turton

After a count of 88 absentee ballots, the Putnam County Board of Elections confirmed on March 22 the passage of a referendum by Cold Spring voters a week earlier that will move the village election from March to November in 2018. The final tally was 372 in favor and 317 opposed.

The absentee ballots added 32 “yes” votes and 26 “no” votes.

Absentee ballots also had no impact on the election of Steve Voloto and Lynn Miller as village trustees. They yielded 36 votes for Miller, 30 votes for Voloto and 33 for Barney Molloy.

The BOE also tallied 53 write-in votes for Frank Haggerty and 28 for Charles Hustis III after last-minute campaigns. There were a number of other write-ins, as well, including votes for Cathryn Fadde, Ralph Falloon, Anthony Phillips and Bill Mazzuca.

A different kind of election

The referendum was one of a number of elements that made the 2016 election noteworthy. The last referendum, held in 2005, dealt with a service award program for the village’s volunteer firefighters — a topic that generated much less of a buzz than moving the elections, which had passionate supporters on both sides of the issue.

The move to fall elections also confirms that like all villages and towns, Cold Spring is not a static, inanimate location on a map but a dynamic, living community that has evolved throughout its history and continues to change.

Women in village politics

Part of that evolution is the increased role played by women.

Barbara Impellittiere was the first woman elected to the village board, serving as mayor from 1973 to 1976. A decade later Barbara Murphy was also elected mayor and served for two terms beginning in 1983. Antonia Garufi was Cold Spring’s third female mayor in 1989-90. In 2006 Karen Dunn became the first woman elected as a trustee and in 2009 Miller was the first woman appointed to the board, filling a vacant seat.

When Marie Early and Fran Murphy were elected as trustees in 2016 they joined Cathryn Fadde as part of the first board in Cold Spring history to include more than one woman. Fadde did not seek re-election but Miller’s win kept the female majority on the five-member board intact.

Changing tactics

The 2016 village campaign included the usual barrage of letters to the editor submitted in support of the candidates. As is often the case, a number were from residents who have been prominent in local politics, including former Town of Philipstown Supervisor Bill Mazzuca, who wrote in support of Barney Molloy and former village board candidate and planning board chair Donald MacDonald, who endorsed Voloto and Miller.

This year’s election included a twist, however, with current board members weighing in, such as as outgoing trustee Michael Bowman’s letter urging voters to throw their support behind Molloy. The bigger surprise, and a tactic that may be unprecedented in Cold Spring, came when the three returning members of the village board openly campaigned for their two preferred candidates. A half-page advertisement in the March 11 edition of The Paper paid for by Mayor Dave Merandy and trustees Early and Murphy endorsed Miller and Voloto.

News media

Cold Spring’s two weekly newspapers again played a role in the election that went beyond interviews, advertising and reader endorsements. As they have done in the past, The Paper and the Putnam County News and Recorder both hosted candidate forums. On Feb. 29 The Paper posed questions to Molloy, Miller and Voloto at a session at Haldane.

The PCNR hosted a similar event at the Cold Spring firehouse a week later, but Miller chose not to attend. Last year, candidates Merandy and Early declined to participate. It did not appear to hurt any of the candidates at the polls: Miller, like Merandy and Early, won by decisive margins.

Cold Spring voters will next go to the polls on March 14, 2017, when the mayor’s chair and the trustee seats held by Early and Murphy will be contested. The following year the village election will move to November as part of the general election. Miller and Voloto will serve an additional seven months before their seats are considered.

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