The Saratoga County Democratic chairman said Tuesday he hopes the party will recapture City Council seats from Republicans next year in the wake of this fall’s Democratic victories.
A Democratic City Council will be able to work well with the Democratic-controlled state government, Larry Bulman said.
He denied that the party is still split, and said he hopes to see both Democratic incumbents on the council get the party’s endorsement.
Those incumbents are Ron Kim, who had past support of the ruling Democratic faction, and John Franck, who did not.
“It is my hope that the city committee finds a way to endorse the incumbents very early on and go through a nice process of interviewing potential candidates for the other seats,” Bulman said.
City Democratic Chairman Al Turkheimer said Tuesday he doesn’t expect there to be any Democratic primaries in the City Council races next year.
But Franck’s supporters have heard rumors about the party running someone against the sitting accounts commissioner, which they fear would give another council seat to the Republicans.
Bulman recalled the city committee’s history sweeping all five City Council seats in 2005 and then losing the majority two years later.
“I hope that the Democratic Party learned a lesson in 2007,” he said.
Party infighting between then-mayor Valerie Keehn and then-public works commissioner Thomas McTygue and their respective supporters was widely accepted as the reason the party now holds only two council seats while Republicans managed to rise above the squabbling and take control.
Then this September, members of the polarized Democratic Party sparred in a race for committee seats, with the side that originally backed Keehn, Democrats for Change, sweeping the seats.
Now, two of the few committee members who belong to the minority faction announced they will resign.
M. Jane Weihe and Sharon Boyd, both former city Democratic chairwomen who were aligned with the faction that supported McTygue, are stepping down.
Weihe is an 18-year veteran of the city committee and has been active in the party since the days when Republicans ruled the city without doubt.
She ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1987 and finance commissioner last year.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Weihe declined to comment on why she was giving up her seat. She remains on the state Democratic Committee .
Boyd has been on the committee about four years, and stepped down as chairwoman when her husband, Gordon Boyd, ran an unsuccessful mayoral primary against Keehn. She said the party split isn’t her reason for leaving.
“I just have to pay attention to other things in my life,” Boyd said, adding she worked on Jeffrey Wait’s city judge race and also recently campaigned “night and day” for Barack Obama during a trip to North Carolina.
The city party’s executive committee plans to meet tonight to discuss appointing new members for any vacancies, said Turkheimer, who is responsible for appointing the new members.
He said Tuesday he had heard only of Weihe’s and Boyd’s resignations, but wondered if more might be on the way.
“I’m sure if those two resigned, there’s probably going to be more,” he said.
Two new members who ran with the ruling Democrats for Change faction have resigned from the committee as well. Kate Bouchard and John Boardman stepped down and were replaced by appointees Kevin Connolly and Bob MacTague, Turkheimer said.
Thomas McTygue, who himself was defeated at the polls for a committee seat in September, on Tuesday praised Weihe and Boyd as “good, solid Democrats.”
He said he doesn’t plan a political comeback for himself.
“We’re not welcomed at this point,” McTygue said. “I’m pretty much out of it at this point, interested in my farm and my horses.”
McTygue owns a horse farm in the town of Saratoga and races harness horses.
His brother, Peter McTygue, who also lost in the September committee race, said the minority faction won’t go away.
“I think a lot of us are probably going to be more involved in individual candidates or issues,” he said.