Ballots Nearly Set for November (Updated)

Odell outspends Fleming 36-to-1 in county executive race

By Chip Rowe

The Putnam County Board of Elections on July 23 invalidated a petition filed by Paul Denbaum, a member of the Kent Town Council who hopes to force a Republican primary against County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

His petition to appear on the Sept. 13 ballot was challenged by John A. Greene, past president of the Putnam County Young Republican Club. After a review, the county election commissioners — one Republican, and one Democrat — invalidated enough signatures to put Denbaum below the 1,000 he needed.

Paul Denbaum

Denbaum appealed the ruling with the Putnam County Supreme Court, but a judge upheld the challenge on Aug 2, sparing Odell a battle for the Republican line.

Maureen Fleming, the Kent supervisor who is the Democratic candidate for county executive, forced a primary vote on Sept. 13 for the Conservative Party line by filing what is known as an “opportunity to ballot.”

The petition will create a write-in line that Fleming can encourage the 1,831 registered Conservative Party voters in Putnam to fill with her name. If she receives more votes than Odell, who is the Conservative Party nominee, her name will appear on that line in the general election ballot.

Fleming complained in a statement on July 18 of “interference” in the election process, saying a robocall was instructing Conservative Party members not to sign her opportunity-to-ballot petition. She called the calls “disgraceful, outrageous and an insult to Conservative voters who can think for themselves” and claimed to be “the only true fiscal conservative in the race for Putnam County Executive.”

Maureen Fleming

Similarly, Fleming will be challenged in the Sept. 13 primary for the Women’s Equality line after an opportunity to ballot was filed, presumably by Odell. There are 21 registered members of the party in the county.

Candidates typically try to claim as many party lines as possible on the general election ballot, believing it will add up to more votes.

Odell has far outpaced Fleming in raising money — and spending — money on the campaign. As of July 12, she reported having $28,000 on hand, after spending $64,000 of $88,000 in contributions received since January. They included $250 from Unicorn Contracting in Cold Spring and $1,000 from Butterfield Realty, both owned by Paul Guillaro, who is developing the former Butterfield Hospital site in Cold Spring, and $1,000 from Diane Ferris, the general manager of Unicorn Contracting.

Most of Odell’s expenditures were related to fundraisers and advertising, including $27,623 to rent the county-owned Putnam County Golf Course for events and $4,415 to the Putnam County News & Recorder in Cold Spring.

MaryEllen Odell

Fleming had $18,366 as of July 12, after taking in $20,000 since January and spending $1,777. Along with individual contributions, she received $1,000 from the Putnam County Democratic Committee, $1,000 from the electrical workers’ union and $500 from the Town of Carmel Democratic Committee.

Putnam County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, a Republican, is running unopposed.

In the race to represent Philipstown in the county Legislature, incumbent Barbara Scuccimarra will appear on the November ballot on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines and challenger Nancy Montgomery, a member of the Philipstown Town Board, will have the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.

Scuccimarra reported $11,560 in campaign funds as of July 12, after raising $12,075 and spending $514. Her contributions included a $1,000 donation from Butterfield Realty. Montgomery reported that she had $4,744 on hand, after raising $4,933 and spending $189.

Patty Villanova, a Cold Spring shopkeeper who announced in May that she planned to challenge Scuccimarra in the Republican primary, did not file a petition to appear on the ballot. In an email, she cited work commitments and Montgomery joining the race.

“I always knew that if Nancy became a candidate it was all over” because of the support she would draw, Villanova wrote. “My main concern was not to let Barbara Scuccimarra have a free ride. Nancy Montgomery is very familiar with the particular issues that are faced by Cold Spring and Philipstown and I’m sure she can get up to speed quickly on the rest of District 1,” which includes Putnam Valley, where Villanova resides.

Never Too Early

To register to vote, you must:

Be a U.S. citizen.

Be 18 years old by Dec. 31 of the year in which you register, and 18 years old by the date of the election in which you plan to vote.

Live at your present address at least 30 days before an election.

Not be in prison.

Not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court.

Not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

You can register to vote:

By calling 845-808-1300 (in Putnam County) or 845-486-2473 (in Dutchess County) to request a registration form, or

By downloading the form at (for Putnam) or (for Dutchess).

You can also use the form to change your name or address, enroll in a political party or change your party enrollment. The latter must be filed at least 25 days before the general election and will go into effect seven days after the election.

The deadline to register for the primary election is Aug. 19, and the deadline for the general election is Oct. 12.

In the race for the District 95 in the state Assembly, which includes Philipstown, Republican Lawrence Chiulli will challenge incumbent Sandy Galef in November.

Chiulli, 20, who lives in Cortlandt Manor, has formed a campaign committee but does not appear to have a website or Facebook page.

Sandy Galef

Galef, 78, was first elected in 1992 and is seeking her 14th, two-year term. A Democrat, she won the 2016 election with 68 percent of the vote, was not challenged in the 2014 election and won 69 percent of the vote in 2012.

In the state Senate, Karen Smythe will challenge Republican incumbent Sue Serino for her seat representing District 41, which stretches from Philipstown into northern Dutchess County.

Smythe, a Democrat who lives in Red Hook, oversaw her family’s construction firm, C.B. Strain & Son, before becoming executive director of the Beatrix Farrand Garden Association in Hyde Park.

A former member of the Dutchess County Legislature, Serino was elected to the Senate in 2014, defeating incumbent Terry Gipson with 51 percent of the vote. She was re-elected in 2016, again defeating Gipson, with 55 percent.

In other races, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents the Highlands in Congress, will be one of four candidates on the Sept. 13 ballot in the Democratic primary for state attorney general. (He is not facing a primary opponent for his seat in the House.) Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will be the Republican candidate for governor on Nov. 6. He selected Julie Killian, a former member of the Rye City Council, as his running mate for lieutenant governor.

2 thoughts on “Ballots Nearly Set for November (Updated)

  1. As you reported, I decided not to run for the District 1 seat in the Putnam County Legislature. The way things worked out, it didn’t make sense to do so.

    I am a freelance technical writer and was given a project that will take me well into the fall to complete. There is no way I could afford to engage in a political race that I most likely would have lost, due to the fact that Nancy Montgomery threw her hat in the ring.

    When I was approached last year by political people from three parties (Republican, Democrat and Conservative) asking me to consider running, I said I was reluctant to do so without a commitment from at least one of them. The only way I could have run as a Republican would be to defeat incumbent Barbara Scuccimarra in a primary, and she has plenty of money and support from county people. Having read my letters to the editor regarding the horrors of the Republican-controlled county government, it’s not hard to understand why I would not have that support.

    My concern from Day One was not to let Scuccimarra have a free ride. Nancy Montgomery is very familiar with the issues facing Cold Spring and Philipstown and I’m sure she can get up to speed quickly on the rest of District 1. She’s an excellent candidate, and I wish her luck.

    Cold Spring and Putnam Valley have been badly treated thanks to the utter incompetence of the Dynamic Duo who now represent us (Scuccimarra and William Gouldman). The stakeholders of District 1 deserve a lot better.

  2. This article originally stated that Lawrence Chiulli, a candidate for the Assembly 95 seat, “in 2012 he ran unsuccessfully on the Conservative Party line for one of two judicial delegate spots in the district.” That is incorrect and has been removed. Also, Chiulli now has a campaign website at