in defeat: Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn.
victories and surprising losses punctuate this year’s polling
white, and blue balloons loomed overhead while Troy Republicans
crowded around a drowned-out television in Franklin Terrace
Ballroom, mingling through a tight maze of party supporters
and glitter-dusted, drink-adorned tables.
In downtown Troy, Democrats packed into Franklin Plaza, huddled
around laptops synced to the polling results, raising their
drinks and chatting wildly. Early reports spoke to a strong
Democratic showing, punctuated with a sweep of the Troy City
For Troy Republicans, the high-water mark of the evening came
with the announcement that incumbent Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian
had handily defeated Democrat James Conroy, Christopher Consuello
of the Working Families Party, and Elda Abate of the Troy
People’s Party to secure his second term in office.
The crowd of around 150 erupted in applause at the mayor’s
Tutunjian glowed as he took the podium shortly after and declared
“a bittersweet victory” in the mayoral race in front of a
sign proudly proclaiming Rensselaer County the home of Senate
Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Brunswick), who was on hand at
Tutunjian clutched a white “Mayor Harry Tutunjian” cap in
his hand as he spoke.
tried to follow Mayor Giuliani’s methodology for how to run
a city,” Tutunjian said, with his wife, Francesca, and his
father, Naz, at his side. “Run it they way you think it should
be run. Do what the people want. Do what’s right. Don’t keep
everybody happy all the time, but in the end do what’s right
to sleep well at night, to look yourself in the mirror in
the morning and the people will support you.”
Tutunjian called his victory a “testament to hard work and
to the open- mindedness” of the residents of Troy and went
on to thank his supporters, campaign workers, and Sen. Bruno.
looking forward to four more years of progress,” Tutunjian
said. “I think the people spoke loud and clear, and I think
the people returned me to office with a pretty clear mandate.”
for the people. We are here for the people,” said Clement
Campana, milling through the crowd of Democrats. He was ruddy
and pleased; the Democrats had succeeded in overturning the
Republican majority on the council. Democratic incumbents
Bill Dunne, Peter Ryan, and Campana each won an additional
two-year term. Newcomers Gary Galuski in District 6, Council-at-Large
candidate John Brown, and Ken Zalewski in District 5 each
secured strong victories.
Onstage, Campana, Troy’s City Council president-elect, held
up Brown’s hand: “Here’s your new generation!”
Campaign workers from the Working Families Party and supporters
of Zalewski, who trounced his opponent incumbent Robert Krogh,
1,413 to 650, erupted into wild applause and shrieks as the
final numbers were confirmed.
we stand here, there is a six-to-three Republican majority”
in the Troy City Council, said Campana. “Come January 1, there
will be a six-to-three Democratic majority!”
is a signal that the people want checks and balances,” said
Dunne. “It is a rejection of Harry’s strong-arm tactics.”
In North Greenbush, the Jeff Spain-Lou Desso faction of the
Democratic Party won a notable victory. Incumbent Supervisor
Mark Evers easily beat Greenbush Party candidate and current
town attorney Josh Sabo 2,150 to 1,493. Desso and Al Spain
snagged the two board seats, and Kathryn Connelly, incumbent
town clerk, held her post.
It wasn’t clear on Tuesday, however, who would be the next
Rensselaer County district attorney. Republican candidate
Greg Cholakis and Democratic candidate Richard McNally will
have to wait until as late as next Thursday to learn which
of them will get the position. The night ended with Cholakis
ahead by a little more than 200 votes, but with absentee ballots
still uncounted, the race is too close to call.
Cholakis patrolled the room for much of the night and was
easily the most visible candidate at the gathering. Ebullient
with a hint of tension on his face, Cholakis graciously chatted
up anyone that caught his arm, though he broke away from the
crowd every so often for an occasional update on the election
As districts reported election results, Cholakis and McNally
remained only a few ballots apart with their near 50-50 split
sustained throughout the evening.
At 11:15, with all but one precinct reporting in, Cholakis
approached the podium to announce that the outcome of the
race was still uncertain.
wrote two speeches for tonight, depending on how it went,
but I guess I should have written a third speech,” said Cholakis.
“It was a very, very close race. I said from the beginning
it was gonna be close. . . . We’ll have to wait and see how
it plays out.”
Cholakis said that he was proud of the campaign he ran. “No
matter what happens, I know that I’m going to be able to go
to bed when this is over and know that I did everything I
could. I think I ran for the right reasons. “
Republicans are optimistic about victory for Cholakis given
his lead, but thought that his margin of victory was going
to be much larger, according to Chairman Casey. Casey acknowledged
that Cholakis’ opponent was qualified and cited a negative
campaign on McNally’s part as the reason for the tight race.
have made it a principle not to engage in negative campaigning,”
Casey said. “Not only because it hurts the candidate, but
because negative campaigning demeans the process.”
get to a better place, there has to be some pain and sacrifice.
This city has gone through that pain and sacrifice,” Democratic
Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn told the Republican throng
at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs Tuesday night. Keehn
was celebrating, but not her own victory. Defeated by Republican
mayoral candidate Scott Johnson 3,760 to 4,241, Keehn’s sorrow
was tempered by her exuberance that 32-year-incumbent Commissioner
of Public Works Thomas McTygue, her persistent political rival,
had finally been unseated by Republican Skip Scirocco.
Scirocco crushed McTygue, 5,190 to 3,222.
McTygue has been a focus of a state investigation into oil
spills; many say he is the focus of an FBI investigation into
Keehn raised her arms in triumph, and thanked her cheering
Earlier at Democratic headquarters, Keehn explained her loss
to her supporters by saying: “I didn’t just have two opponents,
I really had three, and one was the biggest political machine
in the city.”
Keehn waged her campaign within a divided Democratic party,
thanks to infighting with McTygue. Keehn’s Conservative/Independent
opponent Gordon Boyd only garnered about 500 votes.
Scirocco was excited about his overwhelming win and said he
wants to make sure he represents all parts of the city.
this man Superman!” announced a DPW worker who, along with
a number of other DPW workers, was vigorously celebrating
McTygue had been stopped by police earlier that morning with
a DPW employee allegedly illegally taking down Scirocco signs.
Scirocco decided not to press charges.
Republican Kenneth Ivins defeated Jane Weihe to become finance
commissioner, and Democrat Ronald Kim defeated Richard Wirth,
retaining his seat as commissioner of public safety.
Democrat Joanne Yepsen defeated Republican Matthew Veitch
and Democrat Cheryl Keyrouze to become Saratoga city supervisor.
Republicans now have firm control of the Saratoga City Council.
Keehn insisted she will stay involved in Saratoga Springs
politics and made it clear she felt she had done what was
best for the city.
had the courage to take on the political machine that has
dominated this city for years,” she said, “to make this city
a better place.”
In Albany County, 7th District Legislator candidate Democrat
Brian Scavo trails his opponent Green Party candidate Dave
Lussier by a mere five votes. In the Albany County 6th Legislative
district race, newcomer Democrat Christopher Higgins beat
incumbent Christopher Burke and Republican R.A. DePrima. Burke
ran on the Working Families line after losing the Democratic
primary to Higgins. Incumbent county Executive Democrat Michael
Breslin handily defeated his opponent, Republican Roger Cusick.
Chura, Chet Hardin and David King
week, the Albany Common Council appointed its
selections to the Gun Violence Task Force. The
most notable appointee was Albany County District
Attorney David Soares. Others were anti-gun-violence
activist Allison Banks, the Rev. Valerie Faust,
task force organizer Leslie Fisher, attorney Robert
Serenka, the Rev. John Miller, and Leonard Morgenbesser,
who has consistently catalogued media reports
of gun violence in the city. Soares said he would
like to implement ideas that have worked for other
cities to curb the use of illegal guns.
erupted in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings
on President George Bush’s nominee for attorney
general, former New York federal judge Michael
Mukasey, before the nomination won the committee’s
approval by an 11-to-8 margin on Tuesday. At the
heart of the controversy lay Mukasey’s refusal
to call waterboarding (the interrogation technique
that simulates drowning) torture and to prosecute
those who employ it. Mukasey stated that it is
Congress’ responsibility to pass a law against
it, and if they do that he would be happy to abide
by that law. “He will in fact enforce the laws
that we pass in the future? Can our standards
have really sunk so low?” chided Sen. Edward Kennedy
(D-Mass.). “Enforcing the law is the job of the
attorney general. It’s a prerequisite, not a virtue.”
Stunned by Mukasey’s apparently evasive logic,
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) asked: “Does that mean
we have to outlaw the rack?”
presidential contender, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas),
might rank in the single digits in national polls,
but his campaign has proven to be impressive at
fundraising, setting a record in the Republican
Party for an amount raised in a single day: $4.3
million. The fundraising push, mostly organized
by his extensive network of online supporters,
took place on Guy Fawkes Day, in honor of the
1600s British mercenary who attempted to assassinate
King James I. A strong opponent of open borders,
Roe v. Wade, and the Iraq War, the libertarian-
leaning Republican has attracted an odd base of
supporters, including far-right wing Republicans,
young tech-savvy libertarians, and antiwar activists.
an Oct. 30 story in the Albany Times Union, business
reporter Chris Churchill reported on the decision by the owners
of a small family dairy farm to begin bottling, marketing
and selling their own milk. Fourth- and fifth-generation farmers
Donald and Seth McEachron of Black Creek Valley Farm in Salem,
Washington County, described to the TU how they came
to the decision to diversify their operation and not rely
solely on selling their milk to big companies. Among other
things, the story included the fact that farmers who produce
“high-quality” milk are not rewarded for it financially by
large companies who mix it with “lesser” milk from as many
as hundreds of other small farms. What the story did not mention
was the fact that Black Creek Valley Farm, like many other
small farms, does not inject its cows with genetically engineered
bovine growth hormone.
Seth McEachron said that he did tell reporter Churchill that
the farm’s milk is rBST-free and that is a factor in their
marketing strategy. In fact, offering milk without the added
hormone (created by agriculture/biotechnology giant Monsanto
Company) has become an increasingly winning marketing strategy
nationally in recent years, as more and more mile producers
and suppliers, as well as retailers like Starbucks, and the
entire state of Oregon, have rejected rBST. Regionally, Crowley
Foods, Garelick Farms and Byrne Dairy all now produce only
rBST-free milk. And recently, food retail giant Kroger announced
that all of its milk would be free of the genetically engineered
hormone by February 2008. Monsanto despises the labeling of
milk as rBST-free and lobbies and litigates aggressively against
it, but the demand for naturally produced milk is only increasing.
Churchill confirmed that he was told that Black Creek Valley’s
milk is rBST-free, and that he left it out only for space
reasons and not out of any attempt to mislead. And he assured
me that the TU has no policy regarding the bovine-growth-hormone
Still, the biggest story in milk production and marketing
over the past few years has been the snowballing trend toward
rejection of recombinant bovine growth hormone by dairy suppliers
and retailers across the country. Every small dairy farm takes
this into account, including Black Creek Valley Farm, which
doesn’t use rBST and made that fact clear to the TU
reporter. While we give Churchill the benefit of the doubt
that this was a benign omission, it may leave the impression
in informed readers’ minds that the Hearst Corp. supports
Monsanto’s agenda: to leave as many consumers as possible
in the dark about the fact that more and more Americans think
all-natural milk is better, and better for them, than milk
that has been genetically engineered.
loose ends this week-