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Charlton GOP shuns incumbents in board endorsements

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
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— The town Republican Committee has endorsed two new candidates for the Charlton Town Board, selecting them over incumbents who have clashed in the past with the town supervisor.

The committee last week endorsed Mark Hodgkins and Joseph Grasso for the board seats, deciding not to renominate Bruce Gardner and Douglas Salisbury, both of whom had been on the Town Board for eight years.

Town Republican Chairman Adam Todd said the decision was based on the candidates’ qualifications and an interest in bringing a new generation of people into the process.

“We just have to keep an eye on the future and put the best people in,” Todd said.

But Salisbury called the loss of support retaliation for Salisbury and Gardner having backed another candidate against town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge two years ago.

“It was definitely retaliation for our supporting Paul St. John last time,” Salisbury said Tuesday.

Gardner and Salisbury have been an odds with Grattidge at times on town issues, and in 2011 they both endorsed St. John, a former town supervisor, when he sought to challenge Grattidge’s re-election. Grattidge was ultimately re-elected.

Todd said the Republican Committee, in making its endorsement decisions, didn’t discuss the pair’s past support for St. John.

“I’m sure it was in the back of some people’s minds, but it didn’t come up in the interviews and it wasn’t part of the discussion afterward,” Todd said.

Grattidge, who is not on the committee, said he had no role in the endorsement decision.

The town is heavily Republican by voter enrollment, and the GOP committee’s endorsement is generally the most critical step to getting elected.

Gardner said he won’t challenge the committee decision, while Salisbury said he hadn’t decided whether to challenge the decision in a party primary later this year. That decision doesn’t have to be made until nominating petitions are circulated in June.

Gardner said he had been thinking about retiring, and though he went for a committee interview, he is pleased with the selection of Hodgkins as his successor.

“Mark is a very conservative person and his does his job quietly and with consideration,” Gardner said.

Hodgkins, a current member of the town Planning Board, is a project manager with Jackson Demolition and part-owner of a farm on Charlton Road.

Grasso is a member of the town Republican Committee and an engineer with Clough Harbour & Associates of Colonie, a large regional engineering firm. He has worked as a municipal planning engineer.

Todd said Grasso had considered running for the Town Board two years ago, though he ultimately decided not to run against the two incumbents, Sandy Verola and Richard Lippiello, who were then seeking re-election.

Gardner said he told the committee during his interview that he would bow out if Hodgkins was selected to replace him.

“I kind of in the last year have come to realize that I will be 70, and it’s time to back away from all this. It’s very stressful,” Gardner said.

He said he’s proud of his eight years of service, during which he said there have been administrative improvements in how the town is run, as well as in the town’s financial reporting.

Other than the two Town Board seats, the Republican Committee decided to endorse all of the incumbents seeking re-election, including Grattidge.

All town elected offices are currently held by Republicans.

The other officeholders the Republican committee endorsed were Highway Superintendent Mark Emerich, Town Clerk Brenda Mills, town justices Vernon Ketchum and Phil Rodriguez, Tax Collector Linda LaRue and Assessor Rachael Holbrook.

 
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