Saratoga County

Ballston Republican declines GOP committee backing

Town Democrats, meanwhile, endorse two registered Republicans
Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak.

BALLSTON — Another twist has been thrown into this year’s town elections, which already promises a Republican primary for town supervisor and two Town Board seats.

Peter Solberg, a registered Republican endorsed by the town Republican Committee, said he informed the committee on Monday that he doesn’t want its support, though he plans to continue to run for a Town Board seat in the Republican primary on June 25.

Solberg, who says his priorities include controlling development and preserving farmland, said he has serious philosophical disagreements with the other Republicans endorsed by the committee, Town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak and Town Board member Bill Goslin. Both are incumbents whom Solberg regards as too pro-development.

The latest development means that there will be a primary for two seats for Town Board in June between Goslin, Solberg and Chuck Curtiss, an incumbent Republican Town Board member whom the Republican committee didn’t endorse for re-election to a second four-year term.

“I was chosen and then forced to share the ticket with those who are contrary to my platform,” said Solberg, who works in computer technology for the CDPHP health plan in Albany.

On Tuesday, Town Republican Chairwoman Sarah Wood said Solberg waited until the final deadline to reject the committee’s endorsement, so it’s too late for the party committee to endorse another candidate for the position. She said that raises questions about Solberg’s integrity.

“I cannot fill that position. He waited until the very last minute,” Wood said “He accepted the endorsement, he had the committee circulate the petitions with his name on it … I think it’s very deceptive on his part … He’s used us to a certain extent.”

In response, Solberg said he saw Woods’ point, but added that he initially tried to have his petitions circulated separately from Szczepaniak and Goslin’s, but was told by party leaders all the names should be on the same petition and he could have a different platform from the others. He also he personally carried and got signatures for the petitions with all the names.

He also noted that petitions bearing only his name were circulated by members of a citizen group, Ballston Neighbors United, who collected more than 500 signatures.

Connelly, Curtiss and Solberg are being supported by Ballston Neighbors United, which formed out of public opposition to last year’s Burnt Hills sewer referendum, which was defeated. The group emphasizes its concerns about development and its impacts.

Solberg said that as time went on, he believed he was being excluded from some Republican campaign communications, a concern that came to a head on Friday when he was notified that the Independence Party, which endorsed the other Republicans, would not endorse him.

“It was quite obvious I was not a team player,” Solberg said. “It felt it prudent to clarify for voters I’m more on the (Ballston Neighbors United) side that I am on the GOP side.”

As things now stand, Szczepaniak will face a Republican primary from Eric Connelly, a Schenectady High School teacher who said he also has concerns about development in town. Connelly, who is a registered Republican, has also been endorsed by the town’s Democratic committee. That committee has also endorsed Curtiss, who is also a registered Republican. It did not endorse Solberg because he had a Republican endorsement.

“All three of them are Republicans, but they are Republicans that do not follow the GOP platform,” said town Democratic Chairwoman Sue Robbiano.

Wood said she doesn’t necessarily see Republican primaries as a bad thing. “They give voters a chance to get involved in the process,” she said. “What bothers me is someone who says. ‘I want your endorsement and support,’ and then at very last minute comes in and says, ‘I don’t want your endorsement.'”

Szczepaniak and Goslin are also endorsed by the Conservative and Independence parties and do not face a primary for those parties, meaning they will have ballot lines in November regardless of how the primaries turn out.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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