Rotterdam Democrats have endorsed a Conservative and a Republican for a pair of seats on the Town Board but passed over a longtime party member seeking re-election.
The party endorsed Nicola DiLeva, a Conservative who previously ran on the Democratic line, and registered Republican Kristie Hanson for two board seats. Board member Robert Godlewski was shunned for the endorsement after garnering only a handful of votes from members of the town’s Democratic Committee in April.
Both DiLeva and Hanson filed for a change of party enrollment earlier this year, but neither change will go into effect until after November’s election.
Getting passed over for the endorsement was no surprise for Godlewski, who has been on the outs with his party since he served as deputy to then-Supervisor Frank Del Gallo more than two years ago. Still, Godlewski said he didn’t expect the committee to approve a long-time Republican who only recently filed for a change in enrollment.
“I said wait, this individual has been a Republican all her life,” he said.
Godlewski ultimately got fewer than a dozen votes from the committee members. Hanson and DiLeva got roughly two dozen votes apiece.
The committee also endorsed re-election bids by Supervisor Harry Buffardi, Town Clerk Diane Marco, Tax Collector Dawn Pasquariello, Justice Ken Litz and Highway Superintendent James Longo. In addition, the committee endorsed Conservatives Holly Vellano and Randy Pascarella and Democrat Matt Martin for Schenectady County Legislature; Conservative Dominic Dagostino for sheriff; and Democrat Robert Carney for district attorney.
“They chose who they believe they most want to serve in office,” said committee chairman Tony Jasenski, stating the process was fair and transparent. “They put forward a slate they think is going to be successful in November.”
over the wall
When her enrollment changes, Hanson will join a growing list of Rotterdam Republicans who have abandoned the party for the Democrats. Current Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara was elected to the county Legislature as a Republican, but changed his enrollment on New Year’s Eve in 2009.
Santabarbara was followed to the Democrats by former Town Supervisor Joe Signore and former Rotterdam Republican Committee Chairman Gerard Parisi in 2011. And last year they were joined by Longo.
Godlewski served on the town’s Planning Commission before being elected to a partial term on the Town Board in 2006. He sought a seat on the county Legislature the following year instead of running for a full four-year term, but was unsuccessful.
Then in 2009, Godlewski teamed with Conservative Frank Del Gallo, Martin and DiLeva on the Democratic ticket in an effort to gain a foothold on the all-Republican town board. The group swept all four contests.
But cooperation between the four didn’t last very long. Godlewski frequently quarreled with DiLeva during his first year as deputy supervisor and then also with Democrat Wayne Calder after he took office in 2011.
In April 2011, the committee dumped Del Gallo from the Democratic ticket in favor of Buffardi, further increasing tensions on the board. The acrimony between Godlewski and the caucus of Calder, Martin and DiLeva reached a peak when the trio proposed a separate 2012 budget to replace the one presented by Del Gallo, who ultimately was voted out of office.
Despite his party allegiance, Godlewski’s relationship with the Buffardi administration has remained strained. He said fellow board members share little with him and refuse to include him in the decision-making process.
“They never wanted to work with me from day one,” he said. “And that’s the way it is now.”
Jasenski disagreed. He said Godlewski ostracized himself from the board by representing the Del Gallo administration’s goals. He said the new slate of candidates better reflects the goals of the party.
“They work well together,” he said.
Godlewski said he’s amassed a sizeable war chest on his own to take on his party in a primary — he saved all of his salary as board member and deputy supervisor for such a run. Yet he also feels stung by the party he worked so hard to build over the years.
“They wouldn’t even be there if I didn’t keep my nose to the grindstone during the two years after I left office [in 2007],” he said. “How soon they forget.”