Joseph S. Hoffman, Roger P. Kambour and W. Edward Antkowiak were all smiles on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1963.
It was Election Night, and the three Democrats had just won seats on the Schenectady County Board of Supervisors. Their victories helped give Democrats majority control of the board.
Democrats also took over City Hall 50 years ago. Chester Godlewski, Raymond E. DeMatteo and Edward G. Wallingford were all victorious in their races for City Council spots.
“This will be the first time that Democrats have controlled City Hall since 1951,” wrote Art Isabel, a reporter for the Schenectady Gazette. “Democrats campaigned hard on the fact that the city’s urban renewal and urban redevelopment areas failed to show progress under a Republican administration.”
Democrats were not used to power on the county level. “The consecutive string of Republican-controlled boards of supervisors by election is broken after 42 years,” wrote reporter Larry Hart. “The last Democratic majority by action of the electorate was in 1921. Before that it was 1892.”
Hart added that Democrats controlled the board in 1950, “but that was the result of a coalition within the board which lasted only one year.”
GOP mayor holds on
It was not a grand night for the Grand Old Party. Schenectady Mayor Malcolm Ellis represented one of the few bright spots for local Republicans, but there were some tense hours involved. Ellis was locked in a tight race with Democrat Dr. Fred Isabella; Ellis eventually was declared winner by 127 votes.