Porterfield beats Sanders in Schenectady council primary

Marion Porterfield coasted to an easy victory against fellow Democrat Robert Sanders in Thursday’s p

Marion Porterfield coasted to an easy victory against fellow Democrat Robert Sanders in Thursday’s primary for a City Council seat.

She won by more than 2 to 1. With all districts reporting in, she had 1,076 votes in informal results to Sanders’ 422 votes. There were also 18 write-ins.

It was the first vote Porterfield has ever won. The appointed councilwoman had the support of the Democratic leadership as the endorsed candidate, and she also recruited many newcomers to her campaign to deliver fliers and knock on doors.

The experience convinced her that she should serve as a mentor to political novices. She wants more “community members” to run for office.

“When I say that I don’t mean any ethnicity,” she said. “I mean people who aren’t career politicians.”

She talked up her credentials during the primary, telling voters that she isn’t a career politician. She was appointed to her council seat this year.

“I’ve been working for the community for a long time, so I’m not your average politician,” she said. “I know the value that people can bring to the table.”

She will now take on Republican Richard Patierne in the general election. The winner will take the council seat, but will have to run again next year for a full term.

Democratic committee chairman Richard Naylor said the primary helped the party get ready for the main campaign, particularly because it gave Porterfield time to get used to campaigning.

“I think it strengthened us,” he said. “Marion has come into her own with this primary. It got her into the zone and it got us out of the gate early. But also we expended a lot of resources.”

Democrats have won easily in recent years, but are cautious about this race. The Democrats lost one council seat last year to the Alliance Party, which has endorsed Patierne this year.

“I think it will be a challenge, but we’re up for that,” Naylor said, adding, “The Alliance Party is not what it used to be. It’s really just a name for Republicans.”

The Alliance has far fewer volunteers this year, but a few individuals have publicly said they’re dedicated to keeping it going.

Thursday’s results were a disappointment for Sanders. As an experienced campaigner, he had hoped for a better showing.

He criticized Porterfield for never agreeing to a debate — and not even releasing basic details, such as her age, to the public.

“I wanted to talk about the issues. Marion Porterfield didn’t want to debate. She didn’t want to tell anything about herself,” he said.

He also blamed her for mailings that described him untruthfully as a Tea Party member, among other depictions that he called “unbelievable” personal attacks.

“If this is what the Democrats want, fine,” he said. “If they’ve got to win by that, you know what that is? That’s them being Republicans.”

Originally, the Democrats had decided to have a primary because the committee could not choose between Porterfield, who is the first female African-American on the council, and John Mootooveren, who would have been the first Guyanese-American on the council.

Supporters for each seemed to be veering close to a debate over which ethnicity would be best for the council. That’s when the committee said neither would be endorsed, and the public would decide.

But Mootooveren dropped out, and the Democrats quickly endorsed Porterfield. The City Council also appointed her to the vacant seat on the council.

Then Sanders stepped up, saying he wanted Democrats to have a choice.

Sanders is the Democratic ward leader in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

Categories: Schenectady County

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