Election Commissioner Discusses Departure

Says leaving early an effort to install deputy

Two weeks after announcing his resignation, Anthony Scannapieco, the longtime Republican commissioner on the Putnam Board of Elections, said he plans to resign on Thursday (June 30) because of a dislike for the acrimony in county politics and because he hoped an early exit would smooth the way for his deputy to succeed him.

Scannapieco’s term would have ended in December; he has been the Republican commissioner for 31 years and also serves as head of the Putnam County Republican Committee. In New York, commissioners are recommended by the county party committees and appointed by the Legislature. 

This spring, Scannapieco became embroiled in a dispute over petitions he circulated to get incumbent Legislator Neal Sullivan on the ballot for a primary election. When Sullivan’s primary opponent challenged some petitions, a state court got involved and Sullivan ended his campaign. 

In his May 31 resignation letter to County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Scannapieco wrote that “the political landscape in Putnam County has become more contentious than ever before, and individuals no longer behave with civility and decorum,” prompting him to retire. He proposed that Kelly Primavera, his deputy, succeed him.

Scannapieco said June 14 that the county Republican Party’s executive committee backed Primavera. However, he said, while two county legislators wanted quick action, others said it was too late to add a vote to the agenda of their June 2 monthly meeting. (The Legislature scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, June 23.)

Moreover, he said, some Republicans questioned Primavera’s selection by the executive committee, instead of the entire committee. Scannapieco said that if the full committee isn’t in session, the executive committee can make appointments. “That’s what we did,” he said, adding that precedent exists: “I’ve been voted chairman more times by the executive committee than the whole committee.” 

Scannapieco’s leadership took a hit in February when the full Republican committee, voting 148-76, endorsed state Assembly Member Kevin Byrne for county executive, rejecting county Legislator Carl Albano, Scannapieco’s choice.

Then came Sullivan’s campaign. Petitions signed by Republican voters had to be submitted to the Board of Elections by April 7. Scannapieco acknowledged that he goofed up. “I did put down May, instead of April,” as the month he collected one page of signatures, he said, which was past the deadline. 

But he asserted that Sullivan erred, too, seeking signatures from backers of Rob Astorino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, not all of whom live in Sullivan’s district. “A lot of the petitions were knocked out for that reason,” Scannapieco said. 

Asked, in an email, whether he, like Scannapieco, made mistakes in circulating petitions, Sullivan on Tuesday (June 21) replied with the statement he issued when ending his campaign in April. In it, he blamed “issues involving the arduous and highly subjective petition process.”  

After Sullivan dropped out, the state court judge gave Scannapieco three days to find another candidate. However, he said: “I had nobody to run. So that was the end of it.” Later, various Republicans “were going on and on, saying it’s my fault, and Kelly’s fault,” although “there’s nobody, nobody, in this county who did what I did for the Republican Party. There was just nothing I could do at this time.

“There’s some lies going on out there,” he said. 

One thought on “Election Commissioner Discusses Departure

  1. I am a lifelong Republican and have been active in local politics for many years. In my estimation, Tony Scannapieco was one of the worst party chairs in New York state and his legacy will be hard to overcome, if it is even possible.

    In that regard, I have to agree with Tony when he said: “There’s nobody, nobody, in this county who did what I did for the Republican Party.” It’s true: No other political leader would allow what was once a solid Republican county to turn purple, then deep blue in some towns.

    I have watched as hard-working, patriotic Republicans who wanted to work for the taxpayers, liberty, Constitutional issues and even the MAGA agenda were cast aside for party hacks who had no qualifications other than loyalty to Scannapieco, especially when it came to the town party chairs. The best example I know of is my own town of Putnam Valley, where the GOP is indistinguishable from the Democrats on matters of policy, nepotism and liberalism.

    Thanks to Scannapieco, the Putnam GOP is in disarray, with no hope of a comeback weeks before some of the most important elections in the history of our country, let alone out county. His behavior and lack of leadership at this crucial time is unforgivable and should disqualify him from ever holding another position in the GOP.

    As per your article, Scannapieco wrote in his letter of resignation that “the political landscape in Putnam County has become more contentious than ever before, and individuals no longer behave with civility and decorum.” If he is wondering how that happened, perhaps he should look in the mirror. Politics is not called a blood sport for nothing, even in bucolic Putnam and for Tony to pretend otherwise is disingenuous, to say the least.

    This is a sad end to a sad chapter in Putnam County politics. Scannapieco has disgraced himself and the GOP with his decades of shenanigans and lack of leadership. He is a captain walking away from a sinking ship with no apologies, no humility, no attempts to make amends for what he did to destroy the party in our county. If Putnam voters can help to elect a Republican governor, congressman or woman or any other state or federal office in November, it will not be because of anything Scannapieco did, but in spite of it.