Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Revised Calendar Requires
6-Month Campaign Season

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.

With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.

Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

Get used to it.

The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.

State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.

However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
six months.

In the past few days, Democratic Common Council member Mark Drnek, and two Republicans, Council member Len Carson and Craig Gelbsman, all announced they’re running for mayor.

Both Carson and Gelbsman are former county board members. The Republican City Committee endorsed Carson on Sunday, Feb. 28, and Gelbsman hasn’t yet said whether he will continue or not.

All three own local businesses: Drnek, Sweet Home Productions, an internet marketing firm; Carson, DC Marketing, which owns the electronic billboards on I-88; and Gelbsman, First Choice Cleaners and Rage Production, a regional concert organizer.

A similar outpouring – with more to come – is happening in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

• In District 5, Hartwick, Milford and New Lisbon, Emily Popek, former Daily Star managing editor who does public relations for Capital District BOCES, announced on her Facebook page that she will challenge the board’s vice chair, Meg Kennedy, the board’s sole Conservative Party member.

• In District 7, part of Cooperstown, plus the towns of Middlefield, Roseboom and Cherry Valley, Democrat Charlie Varney, a Cooperstown barber, said he will challenge the county board chairman, Dave Bliss.

• In District 10, Oneonta Wards 7-8, the Democratic incumbent, Clark Oliver, the county Democratic chairman, announced he will run for a second term.

On the Republican side, county Rep. Dan Wilber, Burlington, who is leading the effort to find candidates this year, announced that all six Republican incumbents have agreed to run again.

He said he intends to run candidates in the seven Democratic districts, including four in Oneonta, which usually goes Democratic but have supported three Republicans in recent years.

Wilber’s Democratic counterpart, Leslie Berliant of Middlefield, who Oliver said is recruiting her party’s candidates in county board races, did not return a telephone message.


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