Committee declines to endorse two incumbents
By Jeff Simms
The Beacon Democratic Committee has revealed its endorsements for this fall’s local elections and is favoring newcomers for all four ward-based seats on the City Council.
Notably, the committee declined to endorse two Democratic incumbents, Omar Harper in Ward 2 and Ali Muhammad in Ward 4.
Instead, the committee will back John Rembert in Ward 2 and Amber Grant in Ward 4. It also endorsed Terry Nelson in Ward 1 and Jodi McCredo in Ward 3. None of the four have held political office before.
Peggy Ross, who represents Ward 1, and Pam Wetherbee, who represents Ward 3, said they will not run for re-election.
The Beacon Democrats also endorsed the two incumbent at-large council members, George Mansfield and Lee Kyriacou.
Wetherbee, who is chairperson of the Democratic Committee, said it interviewed 10 candidates for the council seats, including the four incumbents who plan to run. After the interviews, “each of our committee members voted for who they felt would be the most qualified candidate,” she said.
Harper, the Ward 2 incumbent, called Rembert, his potential primary opponent, a “great guy,” saying, “I have a lot of respect for him.”
Muhammad declined comment on the committee’s endorsements but said he would run as an “independent Democrat.”
The six seats on the council (the mayor is the seventh voting member) are contested at the same time, with the winners serving two-year terms. The city’s charter review committee recommended in March that the at-large terms be extended to four years, but the council has not embraced the idea. The mayor serves a four-year term; that position will be on the ballot in 2019.
The Democratic Committee also interviewed four candidates for the 16th and 18th district seats in the Dutchess County Legislature — both of which include Beacon — endorsing Frits Zernike and Nick Page, respectively. The seats are held by John Forman and Jerry Landisi, both members of the Independence Party.
Landisi said this week that he will run for re-election; Forman has not made an official announcement.
The Beacon Republican Committee will issue its endorsements for local offices after Memorial Day, said Chairperson Justin Riccobono.
Candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties can begin collecting signatures on June 6 to get their names on the ballot for the primary election, which will be held Sept. 12. Petitions may be circulated through July 13. Dutchess County requires a minimum of 50 to 63 signatures for City Council candidates running as Democrats, depending on the number of registered party voters in the ward, and at least 14 to 20 signatures for Republican candidates. Candidates who hope to represent Beacon in the County Legislature must collect between 54 and 178 signatures, depending on the district and party.
Non-affiliated candidates may circulate nominating petitions between July 11 and Aug. 22. They are required to have at least 42 or 48 signatures, depending on the ward, and 137 or 160 for the county seats.