GLOVERSVILLE -- The Fulton County Democratic Committee has chosen not to endorse any candidates for Gloversville city office, the only place Democrats have a governing majority in the Republican-dominated county.
The county Democratic Committee recently announced its endorsements, which included incumbent Gloversville county Supervisors Marie Born, 1st Ward, Frank Lauria, 2nd Ward, and Greg Young, 5th Ward, all running unopposed, but left off the list Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis, Councilman-at-large Steve Smith and 4th Ward Councilwoman Brenda Leitt.
DeSantis, a former city judge, is running unopposed on the November ballot.
Smith is running against Republican challenger and city firefighter William Rowback Jr.; Leitt is facing Republican Ellen Anadio, who served as 4th Ward councilman for several terms before being defeated by Smith in 2015.
County Democratic Committee Chairman Ed Jacewicz said the county committee met in September to decide endorsements for the November election, but there weren't enough of its 22 members to hold a meeting.
"For a quorum, you have to have at least 60 percent, no different from any other type of meeting," Jacewicz said.
When asked for a copy of the Fulton County Democratic Party bylaws, Jacewicz refused.
"If you're not a committee member, you don't get one," Jacewicz said. "I don't know if there is a rule [against it in the bylaws] or not, but I'm not going to."
The Daily Gazette, however, obtained a copy of the Fulton County Democratic Committee bylaws distributed to some of its members in July.
According to rule No. 5 of the county bylaws: A quorum consisting of 25 percent of the members must be present for a meeting to be held. If a quorum is not present, no action shall be taken other than to adjourn.
Jacewicz disputed the bylaws supplied by a Democratic Committee member, stating they were incorrect. "You aren't supposed to have our bylaws, and whoever gave that to you shouldn't have done that," he said.
Jacewicz said the committee endorsed all of the candidates who came to speak to committee members seeking their endorsement. He said it isn't a surprise that DeSantis, Smith and Leitt were not endorsed because they don't attend the committee's bi-monthly meeting.
DeSantis said both he and Smith gave speeches at the Fulton County Democratic Party's annual picnic in August. Jacewicz confirmed that DeSantis and Smith did speak at the picnic.
"But they didn't ask for our endorsement though," he said.
Rule No. 17 of the Fulton County Democratic Committee states: Democratic Party candidates seeking the committee's endorsement shall offer reasons that they should be endorsed either in person or in writing.
DeSantis said no one at the committee ever discussed a formal endorsement process with him.
Former 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth was the last active chairwoman of the Gloversville City Democratic Committee. Wentworth said it's been "quite some time" since that committee was active. She said she is a member of the County Committee and received an endorsement ballot in the mail, but chose not to vote.
DeSantis, formerly the city's elected councilman-at-large, was appointed to serve as mayor in January after former Mayor Dayton King resigned as part of a plea deal after admitting to stealing some stamps from the city building. At DeSantis' swearing-in ceremony in January Wentworth was in the audience, but would not commit to supporting him. "No comment," she said when asked.
Wentworth said she doesn't know why a majority of the County Committee chose not to endorse any of the Democrats running for Gloversville city office, but said one factor could be the creation of the "Gloversville Party," an independent party line created by DeSantis. All of the elected Democratic members of the council also run on that ballot line. Wentworth said it shouldn't be a surprise most people in Fulton County don't realize the Democrats control four out of six of the Gloversville Common Council seats and the mayor's office.
"Because they don't actually run as Democrats, their focus is their independent Gloversville Party, and has been ever since Vince first ran and created the Gloversville Party," Wentworth said. "Yeah, they're registered Democrats and they carry petitions to be on the Democratic line, which is absolutely their right to do, but their focus has never been to go out to say they're running as Democrats. If you look at all of their literature, they are promoting the Gloversville Party. I'm not saying it's negative; I'm not saying it's positive — I'm saying that's the fact of the matter."
Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Greg Young said he supports DeSantis and the other Democrats running for city offices, and he was surprised that a majority of the County Committee did not vote by mail ballot to support them. He said the Gloversville Party should not be viewed negatively by Democrats.
"I wouldn't see that as a disqualifying factor at all. I view that as a good use of fusion voting to appear on multiple lines," he said.
Jacewicz said he doubts the Gloversville Party was a factor in the committee's decision and acknowledged that it is not uncommon for Republicans and Democrats in Fulton County to also run as Conservative Party, Independence Party or Reform Party candidates.
Wentworth said there's a history of the two major parties not endorsing incumbent candidates of their own party in Gloversville.
"The Republicans didn't endorse Dayton King and he was a Republican, and he still won three times," she said.
In the 2016 election, Wentworth endorsed Republican William Rowback Jr. for mayor, and said she supports him in his bid for councilman-at-large. She also pointed out that Smith and DeSantis both have a history of being Republicans.