Beacon Democrats Back Council Newcomers

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.

Incumbents Omar Harper and Ali Muhammad were not endorsed by the Beacon Democratic Committee (file photos)

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.

9 thoughts on “Beacon Democrats Back Council Newcomers

  1. What an odd editorial choice to show pictures of the two men who did not get the endorsement. I would rather think it more appropriate to show pictures of the two people who did get the endorsement. I find the choice rather insensitive.

  2. I have received a number of comments from friends of mine about how strange this article’s photo choice is. So much so I took a look in the newspaper and online to see this very article.

    It’s quite odd that online and in the newspaper only the incumbents are pictured yet neither received the endorsement. Many of the new endorsed candidates have social media accounts with photos of themselves, so it’s not as if access to such content didn’t exist. In the newspaper version under “Beacon Democrats Back Newcomers,” we see the two incumbents. It makes it appear as if the incumbents are the newcomers who were endorsed.

    I suggest the Current be more accurate in its presentation. Otherwise it appears there may be another agenda in pushing images of candidates who do not relate to the article’s title. Thus they are not relevant to the story you claim to tell.

    • We should have made it clearer in the print caption that the two incumbents were pictured, not the newcomers who were endorsed. I have fixed this in the online caption. We will profile all the candidates as the primary election draws nearer.

      Chip Rowe
      Managing Editor

    • In both the print and online versions of this story the sub-headline states that the committee chose not to endorse two City Council incumbents. That’s part of what makes the endorsements newsworthy, and it explains why the photos are relevant.

  3. The article itself is a matter-of-fact report of the many candidates. The reporter’s choice of subheading and lead in, and the editor’s choice of whom to picture, strikes me as tabloid-like tactics. Sadly, I’m seeing more and more of that in this paper.

  4. I agree with Ms. Hird. Photos of all of the candidates would be better reporting, or no photos at all.

  5. We’re talking about photos, not about the content of the article?

    Eleven people decided that Councilman Harper and I weren’t Democratic enough to represent the Democratic slate in this election cycle.

    I can almost understand their human instincts behind not endorsing me. Almost.

    Councilman Harper has been scrutinized ever since he decided to run for Ward 2. He didn’t receive the endorsement the first time and ran with parties who believed he represented the City of Beacon. He lost that election. Ran again two years later, and again the Democrats declined his bid for endorsement. He later beat the incumbent in a primary election.

    Not only was the party disloyal to their Democratic constituency by continuing to use photos of the incumbent Ward 2 councilman in papers and palm card literature, they never got behind Harper… He later wins in the general election.

    That is evidence — facts — that the general public and the Democratic public supports Councilman Harper, not the 11 voting members or the Alt-Left movement of Beacon residents who want to become stakeholders by any means necessary.

    Like I said in my interview for endorsement, I speak for myself here. It’s disrespectful. It took a lot of audacity and nerve to do what the Beacon Democratic Committee did. They unanimously voted to endorse their candidate, not the people’s candidate. It’s reminiscent of our state and national committees and conventions.

    The primary elections are in September and the general in November — there will be plenty of opportunities for Beacon Democratic slate photo ops.

  6. The title of the article is “Beacon Democrats Back Council Newcomers.” Based on the title of the article, I was expecting the newcomers to be the focus but instead the incumbents are the dominant part of this piece. The title is misleading in my opinion and begs the question as to why. I do value the publication of the Highlands Current and Jeff Simms’ reporting. Hence why I am puzzled that the title of the article “Beacon Democrats Back Council Newcomers” does not match the content, in my opinion.

  7. Read the story and stop acting like you’re grading a homework assignment please!