The voters of New York state made their voices heard yesterday, and in case you missed it: Casinos are OK, as are veterans, the Adirondacks (and mining in the Adirondacks), and money for sewage facilities. In fact, the only one out of six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot that didn’t get passed was No. 6, which sought to increase the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals from 70 to 80 years old under certain circumstances.
The support for the casino amendment varied from region to region. Albany, Saratoga, and Schenectady counties all said “no” to the measure, touted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a necessary boost to struggling upstate economies. Rensselaer County, on the other hand, voted for the proposal, which will at first allow four new casinos to be built, and eventually seven full-scale gaming centers. The resolution was heavily promoted by a group called New York Jobs Now, which was mainly funded by those with a vested interest in gambling revenue. The wording of the measure on the ballot certainly seemed like the amendment would be beneficial to all. It read: “The purpose of the proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution is to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.” Many in upstate disagreed, as evidenced by the numerous counties that voted against it.
Proposal 2 grants “civil service credit” to veterans who are certified as disabled after they take a civil service position, on a “one-time-only credit rule.”
Proposal 4 was fairly straightforward and would resolve “100-year-old disputes between the state and private parties over ownership of certain parcels of land in the forest preserve by giving up the state’s claim to disputed parcels.” In exchange for the parcels, located in Long Lake, Hamilton County, the state would receive land to add to the forest preserve. However, the exchange will occur only if the land received is more beneficial to the preserve than the parcels being fought over.
The fifth proposal would allow a private mining company, NYCO Minerals, Inc., the right to expand its operations in Lewis, Essex County into 200 acres of forest preserve land. In exchange for the land, NYCO Minerals would “give the state at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million” to be added to the preserve. After mining, the company would “restore the condition” of the received land and return it to the preserve. NYCO Minerals would be required to test the land to assess the value of the mineral there before the exchange occurred.
In local politics, it was no surprise to most that Kathy Sheehan took more than 83 percent of the votes (based on the unofficial tally) to became Albany’s first female mayor. Albany and Rochester both elected a female to the position for the first time.
Carolyn McLaughlin will remain the president of Albany’s Common Council, and the results of the ward races were pretty much decided in the primary.
Common Council member for Ward 1 is Sheehan ally Dorcey Applyrs. Vivian Kornegay took Ward 2, and Ronald Bailey kept Ward 3. Kelly Kimbrough beat Clifton Dixon in Ward 4, and Mark Robinson is the Common Council member for Ward 5. In Ward 6, Richard Conti easily fended off his challengers, and Catherine Fahey swept Ward 7. Jack Flynn got Ward 8, and it was no contest for Judy Doesschate in Ward 9. Leah Golby fended off opponents in Ward 10 for the win, and Judd Krasher declared an early victory in Ward 11. Michael O’Brien owned Ward 12, Daniel Herring took Ward 13, and Joseph Igoe kept Ward 14 from the hands of B. Robert Joel III. Frank Commisso Jr. kept Ward 15.
Voters, candidates, and reporters were kept in the dark until around 10 AM on Wednesday to see tallies from Rensselaer County because the Rensselaer County Board of Elections website apparently crashed. Best tweet was from the Times Union’s Jordan Carleo-Evangelist early Wednesday: “Still Zeros of Shame this morning Rensselaer County, the only one in the state not reporting election results.”
When the (unofficial) numbers finally came in, there were some changes to the political landscape, especially in the city of Troy.
Councilman Rodney Wiltshire (D-At Large) ousted City Council President Lynn Kopka for the top seat, and Kopka just barely held onto a seat, as Republican Carmella Mantello finished just a handful of votes behind her. Newcomer Erin Sullivan-Teta also won a seat.
In District 1, Republican James Gordon scooped the seat from Democrat Suzanne Scales. Both were vying for Kevin McGrath’s old turf.
District 2 voted in Democrat Anastasia Robertson, also new to the Council, while District 3 elected Republican Dean Bodnar.
Democrat Robert Doherty fended off Debra Lockrow in District 4, and Ken Zalewski ran unopposed in District 5.
Democrat Gary Galuski kept his seat in District 6, although Emily Rossier, who left the race after a neck-to-neck primary, still got over 100 write-in votes.
In other local mayoral races, it was a close one in Saratoga Springs as former Supervisor Joanne Yepsen squeaked past Republican Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton. In Hudson, incumbent Republican mayor William Hallenbeck Jr. was elected to his second term over Democratic challenger Victor Mendolia, who took 44 percent of the vote and won the majority of the city’s wards.