SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- While higher profile races this year are going to get more attention, there will also be a race for Schenectady County clerk in November.
But Democrat Cara Jasenski Ackerley and Republican candidate Nicholas Barber will also face off sooner, in a Sept. 13 primary for the Independence and Reform parties' ballot lines. Ackerley has the endorsement of leaders in those parties, but Barber -- a registered member of the Independence Party -- is challenging her.
With incumbent Democrat John Woodward retiring this year after 24 years in office, Democrats quickly turned to Ackerley, who is Woodward's chief deputy, as the party's nominee to replace him.
Republicans, meanwhile, nominated Barber of Schenectady, who served for many years as the county's director of real property tax services. He obtained enough petition signatures to force an Independence Party primary, and will also have an "opportunity to ballot"-- a write-in primary -- on the Reform line.
Barber said he got his campaign off to a late start because he didn't know ahead of time that Woodwood would be retiring, which is one of the reasons he is contesting Ackerley's endorsement by the Independence and Reform parties.
"I've always been community service oriented," Barber said. "My qualifications, experience and background make me perfect for the job."
He said his time as real property tax services director was excellent preparation, since that office works closely with the county clerk's office on property ownership records, and the offices are next to each other in the county office building.
Ackerley, who grew up in Rotterdam, now lives in Princetown with her husband and two children. She is a graduate of Nazareth College in Rochester. She is the daughter of county legislator and former Rotterdam police chief Anthony Jasenski, who is chairman of the County Legislature.
For the past seven years, Ackerley has been a deputy county clerk, overseeing the Department of Motor Vehicles and, most recently, serving as the department's deputy clerk for finances.
"I have a strong commitment to providing excellent and efficient public service," Ackerley said on a campaign Facebook page.
In addition to the Democratic line and the two ballot lines being contested in primaries, Ackerley has the Conservative, Working Families and Women’s Equality parties' lines.
Barber holds a business and management degree from SUNY Empire State College. He has held a real estate license for nearly 40 years, and served as the county's director of real property tax services from 1990 to 2010. Since retiring, he has worked as a consultant helping people grieve their assessments.
Also see: Woodward to retire as county clerk, May 4, 2018
Barber is also a past president of SACC Inc./Open Stage Media, which oversees Schenectady's public access television, and served on the Schenectady County Community College board of trustees.
Barber, who is 72, said asking why he was running given his age was a "silly question." "I'll quote Ronald Reagan, 'I would never criticize the youth and inexperience of my opponent,'" he said.
Barber said he also believes fundamentally in the need for electoral competition. "I couldn't fathom somebody just running unopposed," he said. "It wouldn't be fair to the public not to have the choice."
The county clerk serves a four-year term, at a current salary of $97,467 annually. The clerk, with a staff of about 40, oversees the storage of the county's legal records, including deeds, liens and court records and oversees the county's DMV office.