CAPITAL REGION – U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam declared victory Tuesday night in his bid for reelection in a rematch from 2020 election against Republican challenger Liz Joy.
Tonko — first elected to Congress in 2009 — sailed to victory in the race for New York’s 20th Congressional District, gaining 153,137 votes, or 54%, compared to Joy’s 127,336 vote total, with all voting precincts reporting.
“Our campaign has always been about delivering results for the Capital Region, fighting for working families, defending voting and abortion rights, and strengthening democracy,” Tonko said in a statement. “That campaign doesn’t end tonight just because New Yorkers sent me back to work. There is plenty to do and I’m rolling up my sleeves first thing Wednesday morning.”
The Capital Region district has been reconfigured since the last election two years ago, and now excludes Montgomery County and includes all of Saratoga County, as well as Albany and Schenectady counties and part of Rensselaer County.
An engineer with a degree from Clarkson University, Tonko has touted federal investments he’s helped bring to the region, including the CHIPS and Science Act that he says will be a boon to high-tech innovation for the region.
Joy, meanwhile, is a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, and attended the Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” rally, chartering a bus down to Washington, D.C. Tonko was inside the House chamber when the mob stormed the Capitol.
Joy made tackling inflation a top campaign issue and was a forceful parents’ rights advocate and opponent of mask and vaccine mandates during the pandemic.
Elsewhere, a number of state and local races were on the ballot. Here’s a look at how things turned out in a few key races throughout the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley:
State Attorney General
Letitia James, New York’s incumbent Democrat attorney general, was comfortably leading Republican Michael Henry by about 20 points at press time.
James, 64, was first elected to the position in 2018 and is the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York, and the first woman to be elected the state’s attorney general.
James has gained national prominence, in part, because of her aggressive legal fights against former President Trump, including a lawsuit filed in September alleging Trump and his organization engaged in fraudulent and illegal business activity.
James staged a brief Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign before suspending the effort and throwing her support to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Henry is a New York-based attorney whose practice focuses primarily on commercial litigation.
Democrat Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who has been in office since 2007, was poised to win a fourth term Tuesday. He was leading Republican Paul Rodriguez, a Wall Street financial advisor, by about 20 points at press time.
DiNapoli, the state’s longest-serving elected official, previously served as the 16th district’s state assemblyman, first elected in 1986.
DiNapoli, 68, won the 2018 comptroller race with nearly 65% of the vote.
Environmental Bond Act
New Yorkers were strongly in favor of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, with the proposition receiving support from more than 60% of voters at press time. The $4.2 billion in financing will allow New York to respond to threats posed by climate change and improve New York’s drinking water infrastructure.
Specifically, the act will provide $1.5 billion in climate change mitigation, more than $1 billion to prevent future flood damage and $650 million for land conservation, among other projects.
The proposition allows the state to take advantage of federal funding from the Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act.
State Supreme Court judgeships
In both the Third and Fourth judicial districts, multiple candidates were running for seats on the state Supreme Court Tuesday, seeking to become the judges who will hear, try and decide the most complex legal disputes.
In the Third District, which includes Schenectady, Saratoga, Fulton and Montgomery counties, six candidates were vying for three available seats, while in the Fourth District, which includes Albany, Rensselaer and Schoharie counties, four candidates were running for three seats.
In the Third, which encompasses Albany, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Columbia, Greene, Ulster and Sullivan counties, Democrats on the ballot took two of the available seats, while Republican Thomas Marcelle, the lone candidate with previous judicial experience won the third.
With one district in Rensselaer outstanding, as of midnight, Democrat Meagan Galligan was the top vote-getter, followed by Sharon A. Graff with 162,770. Marcelle, on the bench in Cohoes City Court since 2016, was just behind with 162,525.
While the candidates remained in a tight contest, ballots that left the position blank had reached 366,004 — over 200,000 more than cast for any candidate.
While Graff, of Ulster County, has no previous experience as a judge, she is currently the principal court attorney to state Supreme Court Justice Julian D. Schreibman, which means she conducts in-depth legal research and drafts opinions for the judge. Galligan, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, has been a prosecutor in Sullivan County since 2009. She became acting district attorney in 2020 and later that year was elected to the position, becoming the first woman to serve as Sullivan County district attorney.
All three winners will be serving their first term on the state Supreme Court.
In the Fourth, which covers 11 counties, stretching from the Capital Region to the Canadian border, Essex County-based attorney Allison McGahay, with 176,890 votes from the 97.45% districts reporting, and Saratoga County Surrogate Court Judge Richard Kupferman (149,236) had secured themselves seats on the court.
Saratoga Springs attorney Christopher Obstarczyk appeared to be in pole position for the final available spot as votes continued to come in from Washington County last Tuesday. His 141,461 ballot selections gave him a tight 741-tally lead on current Supreme Court Judge Robert J. Muller (140,720), but Obstarczyk was garnering 5.18% more of the vote in Washington County, as of midnight.
From there, Schenectady County Surrogate Court Judge Vincent W. Versaci (139,031), also an acting state Supreme Court justice, remained in the picture with 139,031 votes.
In New York, Supreme Court justice is the title for the trial-level judges who hear major civil litigation as well as sometimes criminal cases. In general, there is at least one assigned to each county, though they can be assigned to any county within the judicial district. Judges are elected to 14-year terms.
The judges elected will take office Jan. 1.
Montgomery County Clerk
Montgomery County Clerk Brittany Kolbe was reelected to a second term, according to unofficial election results.
Kolbe, running on the Republican party line, captured 9,214 votes or approximately 60.69% of the total ballots cast. Challenger Kari Ann Hawkins, a registered Conservative who also ran on the Democratic party line, received 5,965 votes or approximately 39.29% of the ballots.
Amsterdam City Controller proposition
Amsterdam residents approved a proposition amending the city charter to convert the city controller from an elected office to a mayoral appointment, according to unofficial election results released by the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday.
A total of 1,975 residents voted “yes” on the proposition capturing approximately 52.3% of the ballots cast. A total of 1,800 residents voted “no” accounting for 47.68% of the ballots.
The ballot proposition will amend the city charter to make the controller a four-year appointed position running concurrently with the mayor’s term of office. The controller will be under the mayor’s supervision, similar to other department heads.
Qualifications will be established limiting appointments to individuals who are certified public accountants; hold a four-year degree and have at least three years of experience in accounting or at least eight years of experience in public accounting or equivalent financial management experience.
Scotia mayoral race
Republican David Bucciferro is set to become Village of Scotia’s next mayor, taking 1,518 votes to opponent Democrat Joseph Talbot’s 1,371 in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results.
Bucciferro is a leader on the Scotia-Glenville school board and a budget analyst. He previously told The Gazette that he considers himself a leader who helps facilitate conversations between people in a very inclusive manner.
Talbot is a financial advisor and vice president of a financial planning firm.
The current leader, Mayor Tom Gifford, announced he would not seek reelection to a second term earlier this year after the Democratic party did not endorse him.
Saratoga County District Attorney
In Saratoga County, incumbent District Attorney Karen Heggen, a Republican, was re-elected. She beat Democrat Michael J. Phillips 56,723 votes to 42,674. It was the first time in 50 years a Democrat faced off against a Republican in the GOP-backed county.
Heggen has touted her record as an experienced criminal prosecutor over Phillip’s, who has spent most of his career in the private sector. Phillips was a vocal critic of Heggen’s recent cases, as well as her inaction on NXIVM.
Fulton County results
Republican challenger Mike Poulin defeated incumbent acting District Attorney Amanda Nellis by 11,980 to 4,829 in the unofficial vote totals released by the Fulton County Board of Elections Tuesday night.
Fulton County Democratic Election Commissioner J. Gerry Ryan Tuesday night said all 1,964 of the county’s early votes have been counted and only about 376 absentee ballots could still potentially return within the seven-day limit after election day.
Poulin picked up his highest vote total in the Town of Johnstown’s 2nd election precinct with 467 votes, while Nellis had her strongest showing in the city of Johnstown’s 4th Ward with 263 votes.
It appears the third time was the charm for the city of Johnstown Common Council’s referendum to abolish the city’s elected waterboard. Unofficial vote totals show the ‘yes’ votes to abolish the waterboard were 1,673 and the ‘no’ votes were 907.
Incumbent Gloversville City Court Judge Traci DiMezza received 2,190 votes to challenger John Clo’s 1,136, according to the unofficial vote count. DiMezza defeated Clo in all six of the city’s wards with her highest margin of victory coming in the 5th Ward where she received 465 votes to 246 for Clo.