ALBANY — A recently established independent party based on encouraging job creation across upstate has named two Saratoga County elected officials to leadership positions.
The Upstate Jobs Party has named Malta town Councilman Tim Dunn its first executive director, as well as picking Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton as its policy coordinator.
The Upstate Jobs Party was founded in 2016 to promote policies that encourage a high-tech upstate economy. It has made endorsements in recent local and state elections, but isn’t yet a full-fledged political party, and has yet to gain ballot status in New York state. It hopes, however, to grow rapidly, Dunn said, and could achieve ballot status by fielding a strong candidate for governor in 2022 — one who would need to get 45,000 signatures to get on the ballot, and 130,000 votes in the 2022 general election.
Dunn, a business, political and communications consultant originally from the Mohawk Valley, said he will be working on creating an organizational structure, crafting and promoting the party’s messages, and seeking to advance the party as a political force.
“We are seeking out leaders of all political stripes,” Dunn said. “We have endorsed Republicans, Democrats and independents. The UJP is focused on trying to be a unifying factor.”
Dunn, president of Dunn Strategy Group for the last five years, said he is passionate about economic development and the innovation economy. He was elected to the Malta Town Board in 2015 as a Republican, and then re-elected in 2019. He remains a registered Republican, describing the Upstate Job position as his “day job.”
Dunn previously served as communications director for UJP, which through an independent expenditure committee spent about $85,000 in the 2020 elections to support candidates it had endorsed.
The Upstate Jobs Party was founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Martin Babinec and State Chair John Bullis, in conjunction with Babinec’s unsuccessful 2016 run for Congress in the 22nd Congressional District, in central New York. The party has endorsed an increasing number of candidates in each year’s election since then.
The party leadership also announced several county-level leaders around the state, including Daniel O’Sullivan, an experienced technology marketer, business consultant and startup mentor, as chairman in Albany County; and former state assemblyman Marc Butler as chairman in Herkimer County. Robin Dalton is the party’s policy coordinator. Dalton has been Saratoga Springs public safety commissioner since 2020, but is also a former news and publishing executive.
Dalton said earlier this year that she was leaving the Republican Party based on her objections to some of the party’s positions on national issues. She was elected public safety commissioner in 2019 as a Republican, and said she will run for re-election this year as an independent, without Republican backing.
Dunn said one of the basic positions of the Upstate Jobs Party is that the traditional two-party system isn’t working, even though several of the minor parties — including the Independence, Libertarian, and Green parties — lost their automatic ballot status as of the November 2020 election, in which they needed to receive at least 130,000 votes statewide. Only the Conservative and Working families parties survived as third parties.
“Thousands of people who were enrolled in those minor parties were basically left out in the woods,” said Dunn, who said Upstate Jobs will try to appeal to them.
Dunn said that those seeking job creation often focus on reducing taxes and government regulation, the UJP’s approach is more focused on advocating for government policies that encourage innovative education approaches and investment in and support of innovative high-tech companies. “We believe the innovation economy is the best way to get there,” he said.
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