Rotterdam Republicans haven’t yet fielded a candidate for town supervisor, and it appears increasingly likely that for the first time in decades, they’ll leave the spot blank on the November ballots.
The town committee also lacks candidates for town clerk, receiver of taxes and one available seat on the Schenectady County Legislature. Town Republican Committee Chairwoman Tracy Donovan said she’s continuing to talk with potential candidates, especially ones interested in being the town’s top executive.
“There are some people who are undecided about challenging for supervisor at this time,” she said.
But with slightly more than three weeks remaining until petitions are due, the prospect of having a Republican candidate to challenge incumbent Democrat Harry Buffardi seems slim. And unless a candidate emerges among the Republicans or on an independent line, Buffardi could be the first supervisor to win re-election unopposed since James Constantino ran without a challenger during the late 1980s.
Buffardi has already received endorsements from the Democratic, Conservative, Working Families and Independence parties. He won his first term in office in 2011 by defeating then-Supervisor Frank Del Gallo in a primary and then defeating Republican Brian McGarry and Del Gallo (running on an independent line) in the general election.
McGarry is now running for one of three seats representing the town in the county Legislature, as is fellow Republican Charles Quadrini. But a candidate has not yet emerged for the third seat.
Donovan lamented having open spots on the ballot. But she said the party needed to put its efforts into the races where they stand the greatest chance of success.
“It’s unfortunate because I don’t like to leave any seat uncontested,” she said. “But that’s the way it is.”
Donovan said the candidates who are challenging for seats this year are strong. For the two seats available on the Rotterdam Town Board, the committee endorsed Rick Lamour, a lifelong resident who works with the state Office of Mental Health, and Joseph Villano, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2011.
The GOP also endorsed incumbent Ken Litz for town justice and Larry Lamora for highway superintendent. Lamora, who ran unsuccessfully for the position on Del Gallo’s independent Rotterdam First line, will challenge incumbent James Longo, the GOP’s only successful candidate in 2011. Longo switched his enrollment to Democrat after winning that election.
Rotterdam Republicans have faced a number of defections in recent years. Angelo Santabarbara, who won a seat on the county Legislature as a Republican, was among the first among many to join the Democrats when he switched on New Year’s Eve in 2009; former Town Supervisor Joe Signore and former Rotterdam Republican Committee Chairman Gerard Parisi both changed their enrollment in 2011.
“It’s been really frustrating,” Donovan said.
Yet the departures have created openings for new blood in the party. Donovan said many new faces have joined the committee, which is full and now has a waiting list of people wanting to get on board.
“I think you’re really going to see some interesting new faces come up the next election cycle,” she said.