MILTON — The two incumbent Town Board members denied renomination this month by the town Republican Committee are planning primary challenges.
Milton Councilman Benny Zlotnick, who lost the committee’s support for his first re-election bid, announced Monday that instead of running for Town Board he will challenge current Town Supervisor Scott Ostrander, a fellow Republican.
“The town of Milton Republican Committee chose to go in a different direction than I had hoped for,” Zlotnick said. “Therefore I have decided to run for the office of supervisor.”
Two-term incumbent Town Board member Barbara Kerr, meanwhile, said she will seek a primary to keep her current seat. Kerr won a primary after losing the committee’s backing in 2015, and two years ago challenged Ostrander’s nomination in a Republican primary, though she lost that race.
Any primaries would be held on June 25. Monday was the first day for candidates to start circulating nominating petitions.
Both Zlotnick and Kerr have frequently spoken out or voted against the Town Board majority led by Ostrander, resulting in 3-2 splits on such issues as adopting the 2019 town budget. All board members are Republicans.
The Milton Republican Committee endorsed electoral newcomers Megan Soden and Antonio Bianchi over Kerr and Zlotnick.
Asked why he was running for supervisor, Zlotnick said: “I talked to some friends and my family and I think if I ran again (for Town Board) I could get back on there, but I don’t think I’d be able to make that much difference,” he said. “If I was supervisor, I think I’d be in a better position to do what is right for the town.”
On Monday, Ostrander said he expects to win re-election. “I’ll crush him,” he said of the challenge from Zlotnick. “I’m ready to go.”
Ostrander, 51, who was first elected in 2017 after retiring from a career with the Ballston Spa Police Department, said his accomplishments include creating a sound town budget, arranging to extend public water to more neighhorhoods, and moving to establish new emergency access for the Rowland’s Hollow development. He said being supervisor is a full-time job.
Zlotnick, 59, is a materials tester for Polyset in Mechanicville, who has been on the Town Board for four years. Before that, he served on the town Planning Board. He acknowledged he would probably have to retire from that job if he were elected supervisor.
The supervisor’s position pays $46,320 annually, plus about $20,000 for serving on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
Kerr, meanwhile, plans to try to force a primary to keep her Town Board seat.
Kerr, who has been on the Town Board for eight years, has clashed with party leadership in the past. She won a primary and kept her seat after the town committee didn’t back her in 2015, and in 2017 she primaried for the open town supervisor’s seat, though she lost to Ostrander, who had the committee’s endorsement.
Kerr, who is retired from an administrative position at Skidmore College, said the party hasn’t backed her because she has been outspoken.
“I’m running for re-election to ensure the residents of Milton continue to have a strong voice for open, honest and ethical government representing them on the Town Board,” Kerr said.
Of the committee-endorsed candidates, Soden is the chairwoman of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, while Bianchi is a Siena College senior — president of his class — and a legislative assistant in the state Senate. He was elected to the Milton Republican Committee at age 18.
Town Republican Chairwoman Anna Stanko said Zlotnick and Kerr have lost the confidence of the Republican Committee.
“The town of Milton Republican Committee thoroughly vetted all candidates and when it came to the board the committee was most impressed by Scott Ostrander’s progress and results over his first term, Meg Soden’s knowledge and skill, and Antonio Bianchi’s passion for public service and policy,” Stanko said in an emailed statement.
“The two current incumbents have lost the confidence of our committee and I believe that the hard work ethic and drive found in Ostrander, Soden and Bianchi will prevail on Primary Day,” she continued.