The new leader of the Saratoga County Republican Committee sees himself as the shepherd of a committee driven by its members.
John Herrick, former Saratoga Springs Republican Committee chairman and current vice chairman for the county committee, got a promotion Saturday morning, as he was voted to succeed longtime Chairman Jasper Nolan. Herrick defeated committee Treasurer Chris Callaghan, who had essentially conceded the election earlier in the week.
Going forward, Herrick said he is focused on getting more people involved in the county committee and its decision-making process. This effort will include reaching out to young Republicans and creating three new leadership roles on the committee: vice chairs of social media, special events and campaigns.
“It’s going to be the committee up,” he said of the decision-making process.
There will also be an emphasis on candidates reaching out to local committees, he said, but stressed this isn’t in reaction to complaints that arose from the spring endorsement process in the 43rd state Senate District race between Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione and incumbent Roy McDonald. Herrick said this emphasis stemmed from the endorsement process for Republican Sandy Treadwell’s congressional bid in 2008.
“We need to listen to our committee members,” he said.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who represents about half of the county geographically, said Herrick was a good choice. He highlighted Herrick’s work with the Saratoga Springs committee, which was able to regain control of the City Council in 2007 when the committee was under his leadership.
“It will be tough to fill Jasper’s shoes,” Tedisco added, referring to Nolan, whose 27-year run ends today.
For his part, Nolan has said he would like to stick around as an informal adviser to the committee. He came under fire during the endorsement process for the 43rd District, which he said had nothing to do with his decision to leave the post.
The battle for the Republican nomination put a lot of stress on the county party, but Herrick and other party leaders are confident it will heal. One sign of the wound disappearing was on display last week when the committee officially endorsed Marchione, who defeated McDonald — whom the committee had endorsed — in a primary.
Also elected to a leadership role was Wilton Republican Committee Chairman Scott Kingsley, who is the new vice chairman. Linda McNab, the county committee’s current secretary, will serve another term in that position, and Stacy Clifford will serve as committee treasurer. Both women also fill those functions for the Clifton Park Republican Committee.
Terms on the county committee are two years.
Kingsley echoed Herrick’s focus on bringing in new and younger members, as he is focused on the long-term future of the party. He explained that the county committee is strong now, but demographic trends and an infusion of independent voters in the county require them to reach out for new blood.
“I see a big tent for the county Republican committee,” Kingsley said, with a focus on limited government and personal freedom, which are positions that unite the party. “We need to make sure everyone has a little piece of the pie.”
Herrick and Kingsley are both concerned with the state-level races the county will be involved with, but most political observers believe the Republican Party will hold the five seats in the state Senate and Assembly in which it has incumbents. The ambiguous races are the two congressional races, which split the county in half. Republicans are the challengers in both races, and Herrick said the committee is excited about taking back these seats.
The southern half of the county is represented by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who is opposed by Glenville banker Bob Dieterich. The northern half falls within the district currently represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who is running for a second straight time against businessman Matt Doheny.