Endorsements for Schenectady City Council on Saturday indicate Carl Erikson and the local Democratic Party machine have resolved any issues that have recently played out in the press.
The executive committee of the Schenectady Democratic Committee endorsed council members Erikson and Marion Porterfield for their upcoming re-election bids. The committee also interviewed three potential candidates to run for the seat of council member Barbara Blanchard, who is not expected to seek re-election this year due to health problems.
According to people at the meeting, Jean Carney, a senior assistant public defender in the county and sister of Schenectady County District Attorney Bob Carney; John Mootooveren, who tried to get appointed to a council vacancy last year; and Robert Barnes, a school board candidate in 2010, all interviewed about the Blanchard seat. No endorsement was made.
Carney and Barnes have not formed candidate committees with the state Board of Elections. Mootooveren has a committee, which reported having $2,856 in the January filing with the state.
The endorsement for Erikson ends about a month of speculation that he might lose party support. Committee Chairman Richard Naylor previously told the Gazette that some members of the committee weren’t happy with Erikson’s habit of breaking ranks to side occasionally with the lone non-Democrat on the council, Vince Riggi, an independent. No one publicly criticized Erikson.
It’s not clear, though, whether any candidates were lined up to replace Erikson, who was appointed to a council vacancy in the spring of 2010 and won election that fall.
Erikson said the media “drama” surrounding his relationship with the party appeared to be settled after his conversation with the executive committee on Saturday. He said they accepted that he will not always be of the same mind as other Democratic council members or party officials.
Despite some private rumblings on the committee, Erikson said he has been hearing a lot of positive comment about his tenure on the council. That response was not only nice to hear, he said, but helped reinforce his desire to serve again.
The interview touched on whether he actually wanted to run — he said the answer is yes — and whether he is committed to campaigning — again a yes — with a fundraiser planned for March 21 at the Stockade Inn.
There was also talk of his vision for the future, with Erikson saying, “I will continue to focus on financial issues. I still feel that taxes are the number one priority for a majority of the city.”
He is currently chairman of the council’s Finance and Administrative Efficiency committees and also serves on the Health & Finance and Government Operations committees. Porterfield is chairwoman of the Public Services & Utilities and Health & Recreation committees and also serves on the Administrative Efficiency and City Development & Planning committees.
Mayor Gary McCarthy, a Democrat who has supported Erikson in statements to The Gazette, was not at Saturday’s endorsement meeting. When asked about endorsements of Erikson and Porterfield, he said in a phone interview, “Sounds like a good decision.”
The executive committee’s endorsement recommendations will come up before the full committee in late spring. Democratic candidates who aren’t endorsed could still be on the ballot in the fall, but it’s a tough road to even get on a primary ballot without the backing of the party.
It is not yet clear who the Alliance and Republican parties will endorse and nominate as candidates for the fall.
Based on the January finance filing, Erikson has about $30 in his campaign chest, which is almost three times what he had at the January filing two years ago. According to Porterfield’s filing in January, her campaign had a negative balance of $36.57.