Dybas is apparent winner of Amsterdam’s 4th Ward seat

Finance will be top priority, incoming alderman says
David Dybas appears to have won the special election to serve the final year of former alderman Rodney Wojnar's term.
David Dybas appears to have won the special election to serve the final year of former alderman Rodney Wojnar's term.

AMSTERDAM — Former 4th Ward alderman David Dybas appears to have won the special election to serve the final year of resigned alderman Rodney Wojnar’s term. 

The Montgomery County Board of Elections counted absentee ballots Friday. Going into the count Dybas, a Democrat, was leading Republican Stephen Gomula by 17 votes (257 to 240]. Republican Election Commissioner Terrence Smith said Dybas received 24 absentee votes, Gomula received 8, and write-in candidate Guy Cappuccio received 1. 

“Dybas is now leading by 33,” Smith said. 

Smith said there are still a few affidavit ballots to be counted, which are provisional ballots filled by voters who are challenging that they should be eligible to vote, but not enough to sway the election. He said the Board of Elections has until Nov. 30 to certify the election results. 

Gomula said he congratulated Dybas on his victory Friday. He said he also plans to run in the November 2019 election for a full two-year term for the seat.

“I’m definitely going to take another run at it next year. Originally my whole intent was to run next year. I had thought about doing it, but then this whole special election thing came and kind of sped everything up, and I wasn’t really ready for it. So, I’m pretty proud of myself. I did pretty well with only two months of campaigning,” he said. 

The 4th Ward special election was required after Wojnar resigned after being charged with third-degree patronizing a prostitute in August. 

The resignation sparked several weeks of controversy in Amsterdam, as the City Charter requires the Common Council to replace vacated council seats with someone of the same party affiliation as the last person elected to the seat. Wojnar is a registered Democrat, though he won his seat as an independent.

The Montgomery County Democratic Committee nominated Dybas for the seat, but two Republican council members — 1st Ward Alderman William Baaki and 2nd Ward Alderman Paul Ochal — voted against Dybas, with 3rd Ward Democratic Alderman Art Iannuzzi abstaining due to “ambivalence.” Deputy Mayor James Martuscello, who represents the 5th Ward, voted for Dybas but was a backer of Cappuccio throughout the process.

The council ultimately voted to appoint Cappuccio, who said he is considering running in November 2019 for a full two-year term. He has said he’s attempting to use his time on the council until the end of the year as an audition for the job. Cappuccio could not be reached for comment Friday. 

Dybas said he plans to attend Common Council meetings for the rest of 2018 before he is sworn in for the seat in January. He said he already knows what issues he wants to tackle after taking office. 

“I have a list: finance, finance, finance, finance, finance, all the way down to No. 10, you want to know what No. 10 is? Finance,” Dybas said. “I want to know about the money. Where is it? How much do we have? What are we doing to control it? I haven’t seen the 17-18 fiscal year audit, that should be out. If it’s out, I’d like to get a copy.”

Dybas, who had a career working in finance with General Electric before running for office, said he plans to help tackle the city’s fiscal problems.

Amsterdam has been struggling for years with large budget deficits. 

Dybas said he also intends to raise the issue of whether the city is complying with city charter section C-97. The charter section spells out the collection of property of  taxes in the city, which the city does for itself and the county, and how that money is reconciled between the two governments. Because of confusion over how taxes are accounted for, the county’s books reflect that the city owes it millions of dollars. But most of that money reflects unpaid taxes by city property owners, for which the city is not liable.

Under the charter, the city controller must certify that section C-97 has been carried out.

Dybas said he intends to ask for the sworn affidavit at the start of every council meeting after he takes office.

City Controller Matt Agresta said no city official has ever explained to him the requirements of city charter section C-97, but he will comply with whatever the law requires. 

“Whatever the process is, I’d be happy to do it. I just don’t know what’s involved, who needs to be involved, when it’s supposed to happen. If it’s annually is that the calendar year? Is that the city’s fiscal year? Is that the county’s fiscal year? At what point is it supposed to be done? None of us has the same year,” Agresta said. 



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