Montgomery County GOP announces local candidates

Photo by Bill TrojanMontgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort speaks at the Winner's Circle in Fonda on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
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Photo by Bill Trojan

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort speaks at the Winner's Circle in Fonda on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

The Montgomery County Republican Committee on Wednesday released a slate of 41 candidates for local offices during a socially-distanced rally held at the Winner’s Circle in Fonda.

Incumbent Republican County Executive Matt Ossenfort gave the keynote speech at the event. Ossenfort thanked Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Susan McNeil and Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino for attending the rally as a show of unity between the Republican parties in both counties. Ossenfort said he’s proud of the accomplishments of his administration over the course of his two terms in office, including keeping the county under the state tax-levy cap every year he’s been in office and focusing on economic development. His speech aimed at rallying the GOP to work together as a team.

“I am a person who’s not about ‘me’, I’m about ‘we’, and that’s the environment and the culture we’ve created — it’s about working together, being there for each other, even falling on the sword for each other at times, if we have to,” Ossenfort said. “By doing that, we’ve collectively been able to move Montgomery County forward.”

The slate of candidates is made up almost entirely of incumbent Republicans seeking re-election, such as in the city of Amsterdam where incumbent 1st Ward Alderman Patrick Russo and incumbent 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula are each seeking their second full two-year term in office.

So far no Republican challengers have stepped forward to run against any of the three incumbent Democrats on the council: David Gomula (2nd Ward) Irene Collins (3rd Ward) and Deputy Mayor James Martuscello (5th Ward).

The apparent lack of council races in Amsterdam is a departure from recent elections, where ward seats were routinely hotly contested. In 2019, Democrat David Gomula first won office against incumbent Republican 2nd Ward Alderman Paul Ochal who had occupied that seat for several terms. In 2019, Irene Collins also faced Republican challenger Kimberly Van Wormer, who has decided not to run again.

Stephen Gomula said he believes there are several factors that have led to few new candidates running for office in 2021, including the coronavirus pandemic, which he believes is dissuading some people from undertaking the task of circulating petitions and then trying to run a socially-distanced campaign. He said he also thinks a lot of people are just tired of political campaigns in general.

“You know the last few years have been kind of rough politically — in the world in general, and throughout the United States,” he said. “I’m new to politics, in terms of being involved, but I’ve followed it most of my life, and this [current city Common Council] is the first time I can ever remember that there’s no shouting at Common Council meetings, and it’s actually pretty refreshing. We all work well together, both Republicans and Democrats.”

Countywide, these incumbent Republican Town Supervisors are all running for re-election: Tom DiMezza (Amsterdam), Pete Vroman (Canajoharie), Eric Mead (Florida), Edward Bishop (Mohawk), William MacLauchlin (Palatine) and Gary Kamp (Root).

Ossenfort said some of the newcomers among the Republican slate are Michael Dayian, running for Montgomery County Family Court Judge, and Republican Mark Quiri, who’s running for an open seat on the Florida Town Board where incumbent Republican Town Board member Harold J. Alikonis is also running for re-election, but incumbent Republican Guy Robataille is not running for re-election.

There is an expected Minden Town Supervisor Republican primary contest between incumbent Joseph Hanifin and Duane Rockwell.

Ossenfort said the Montgomery County Republican Committee has decided to “push back” the committee’s organization meeting for one year, keeping in place the County Republicans current officers: Chairman Michael McMahon, Vice Chairwoman Brittany Kolbe, Treasurer Vincent Nicosia and secretary Justin Smith.

“That organizational meeting will happen next year when it will [likely] be allowed to happen [in-person,]” Ossenfort said.

Designating petitions to run for office can be obtained March 2. Petitions must then be returned to the county Board of Elections between March 22 and March 29. The party primary elections will be held June 22.

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