Democrat Carrie Woerner and Republican Steve Stallmer are the first to emerge as potential successors to Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, who was elected Washington County district attorney on Tuesday night.
The two candidates will be vying for the 113th Assembly District, which stretches from Mechanicville in Saratoga County to the middle of Washington County and includes Malta, Saratoga Springs and Wilton. The potential candidates will be chosen by the local party committees and not a primary process because it is a special election; the winner will then be able to run for a full term in November.
Woerner, a Round Lake resident, ran against Jordan last year and lost. This would be the first election bid for Stallmer, a Saratoga Springs resident who currently works for U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
Jordan previously said he’ll resign his Assembly seat at the end of the year. If that happens, it’s likely that a special election for the seat would be held in early spring 2014.
Woerner hopes the special election is held in time for the constituents of the 113th Assembly District to have a vote on the state’s budget, which will likely pass in late March.
Stallmer got started in politics handling constituent services for longtime U.S. Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon, whose district included parts of Saratoga County. “I remember answering phone calls and … I just thought it was the coolest way to help out your friends, family and neighbors,” he remembered.
In his first two years working for Gibson, Stallmer was able to serve his community from the district office in Saratoga Springs. But because of redistricting, Saratoga County was pulled from the district and he hasn’t been able to help his hometown. By running for the Assembly, he said it will be a chance to serve his community again.
If elected, one of his main priorities would be helping to shepherd Saratoga Springs through the process of siting a casino. His goal will be to ensure that the city’s character and existing businesses continue to thrive.
Stallmer would join a small minority of Republicans in the Assembly if he took over for Jordan, who had worked his way up to a leadership post in the conference. “I know the process and I don’t expect to be a senior member of the Assembly, but you have an incredible opportunity to speak for this area,” he said of being in the minority.
Whether Stallmer emerges as the Republican candidate is largely in the hands of the Saratoga County Republican Committee, which has about 70 percent of the vote when it meets with the Washington County Republican Committee. Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman John Herrick has just started spreading the word about the seat so that interested candidates will have a chance to interview with the eight local Republican committees in the county before the county committee holds a full endorsement vote in December. He was very optimistic about holding on to the seat as long as they could quickly reach a consensus on a candidate.
For Woerner, the decision to run again was based on the same issues that prompted her to run last year. She wants to fix the state’s education funding formula and foster high-tech growth with new companies and burgeoning local companies.
She also wants to protect the district’s rural roots, calling for a plan to encourage more farms to be passed down among families and to attract young farmers. “An amazing amount of farmland has been lost over the last 50 years, just in our region, and we need to stop that,” Woerner said.
Saratoga County Democratic Committee Chairman Todd Kerner anticipated that his committee and the Washington County Democratic Committee would likely rally around Woerner. “Carrie ran a very good race last time, and I think people see that,” he said.
Woerner’s challenge to Jordan fell about 3,000 votes short, but it was the closest of his three races, which has made Kerner optimistic about their chances in an open race.
Once Gov. Andrew Cuomo declares a special election, it is likely that the Republican and Democratic committees from Washington and Saratoga counties will meet quickly to back a candidate so they have as much time as possible to campaign.