SCHENECTADY — The slate of Schenectady Republicans set to run in the November City Council and mayoral elections will now have a second line on the ballot, with the creation of the Save Schenectady line.
The city GOP collected the requisite number of signatures to create the ballot line, with mayoral candidate Matt Nelligan and council challengers Bryan Barrett, Jacob Dobbs, Kevin Hammer and Stephanie Hayes all slated to appear on both the Republican and Save Schenectady lines.
Nelligan on Monday said that the creation of the ballot line could allow voters who are hesitant to vote for a Republican candidate but interested in the group’s ideas to support the slate under a different brand name.
“Sometimes you’ll find that because of national politics, Democrats who might otherwise vote for someone won’t want to cast their ballots on a Republican line,” Nelligan said. “I think the Save Schenectady line will give people another option if they want to vote for our ticket but they don’t want to vote Republican. I think it’s important to have options for people and I think this creates another important option.”
Nelligan said he received feedback from city residents that while the national Republican Party may have a negative perception, they would consider voting for a third party.
“We heard some of that, that the national brand has some baggage,” he said on Monday. “We also heard a lot of concerns and anger about the current incumbent administration.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy is squaring off with City Council President Marion Porterfield in the June 27 Democratic primary.
McCarthy has already secured the Conservative line on the November ballot, a line that Nelligan and the GOP council candidates did not pursue.
“The Conservatives have their own process and McCarthy has had that line in the past and it seemed to be clear that he was going to get it again,” Nelligan said. “From my perspective, it made sense from the beginning to have a fresh ballot line for people to consider. I also think to the extent that people may have an issue in terms of voting Republican, those same people may have a major issue voting for someone that labels themselves a Conservative.”
Porterfield is running against Ed Varno, a former lieutenant at the Schenectady Fire Department, for the Working Families Party in the June 27 primary.
Schenectady Democratic Chairman Tom Bellick said that he doubts Schenectady voters will be persuaded to vote for the GOP ticket under a different ballot line.
“It sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Bellick said on Monday.
The GOP and Save Schenectady slate of council candidates will oppose incumbent Democratic City Council members Doreen Ditoro, Carmel Patrick and Carl Williams, with Democratic candidate Joe Mancini, who serves as the senior program adviser at Schenectady’s Social Enterprise and Training Center, rounding out the Democratic ticket.
The GOP candidates secured 1,117 resident signatures to create the new ballot line, nearly double the 660 required by the Schenectady County Board of Elections, with the candidates collecting the signatures door-to-door in recent weeks.
“The people of Schenectady have been great, but there’s been a couple of experiences where people right away ask you, ‘What’s your party?’” Hammer said on Monday. “Then as soon as you tell them your party, and this happens all across the political spectrum because I know Democrats who this has happened to as well, it ends and the person says, ‘We’re done, we’re not talking anymore.’ These other lines give these individuals the opportunity to feel comfortable in their vote for a candidate that they might not under any other circumstances vote for.”
Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.