Friday, September 4, 2009

Town of Olive Conservative Caucus Nominates Vince Barringer

I attended the Town of Olive Conservative Caucus last night in the Town of Olive Justice Court on Bostock Road. The most remarkable thing about that building is that the men's rooms have two wooden doors. You open the rickety wooden door to the men's room and there's a small ante-room and then you open a second rickety wooden door.

The Town of Olive has a split personality. The Conservative Party has about 85 members and gets about 10 percent of the popular vote in the town. But the town is no longer Republican as it once was. In the late 1980s, I am told, the Republican majority became Democratic as immigrants from New York City, owners of weekend houses, rock stars (no kidding) and other Democrats moved to Olive. Thus, there is a split personality, with a large chunk of the population descendants or long time residents and a large chunk consumers of granola and yogurt. As in New York City, many of the Republicans are left of the Democrats, but the Conservatives can play a decisive role. The candidates need to seem conservative on fiscal issues but liberal on environmental and lifestyle issues. There is a healthy competition for the Conservative Party nod because of the area's split personality.

All of the town's incumbents are Democrats. The Democrats enjoy roughly a ten percent lead in enrollment. The Democratic town supervisor, Berndt Leifeld, has been supervisor since 1988, according to the Olive Press. Timothy Cox, an attorney with the Catskill Watershed Commission and a former Republican, is running for town justice. Bruce Lamonda (who I know from the Emerson Inn and Spa's workout room) and Linda Burkhardt are running for town council and Jim Fugel, who turned down a cross-nomination from the Republicans, is running for highway supervisor. Running unopposed is Sylvia Rozzelle for town clerk. The Democratic candidates are all worthy. However, Republican challenger Vince Barringer makes an excellent point: Leifeld has been serving for over 20 years and is the highest paid town supervisor in Ulster County and among the highest paid in the State. This is excessive given that the Town of Olive is a small town, with less than 4,000 residents.

The Conservatives gave the nod to most of the Republicans, and this was a positive step as their support was not given. Barringer got the Conservative Party nod for town supervisor. Two charming and capable Republicans, both excellent candidates, Don van Buren and Craig Grazier, got the nod for town board. But the compassionate and insightful Earla van Kleeck was nudged out by Tim Cox. Van Kleeck is a good candidate and has an excellent shot at town justice. The Republican candidate for highway supervisor, Chet Scofield, was unable to attend the caucus and was nudged out by Democratic incumbent Fugel.

The candidates spoke to about 20 Conservatives and roughly an equal number of observers, of whom I was one. One of the interesting phenomena of a small town is that the politics are a little less subtle than in Albany or New York City. Two of the Democratic candidates' children are enrolled Conservatives and one of these began to aggressively disrupt and argue when the Republican candidate for town supervisor, Vince Barringer, was speaking. Nevertheless, I thought the Conservative caucus meeting was very well run and the outcome overall is positive for the Republican cause.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.