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Joe Membrino

3 Democratic Candidates Seek Separate Independent Lines
Village Board Races Shaping Up

3 Democratic Candidates Seek

Separate Independent Lines

COOPERSTOWN – Joining Republican Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns, the three Democratic incumbents for Village Board filed for independent lines on the March 18 ballot by the 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday evening.

In addition to having her name on the Democratic ballot line, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch will appear on the “Village United” line.  Trustee Joe Membrino’s line is “Liberty Party,” and Trustee MacGuire Benton’s, “Many Voices, One Village.”

Democrats Nominate Board’s Incumbents

Democrats Nominate

Board’s Incumbents

Mayor, 2 Trustees Seek Full Terms

Former mayor Jeff Katz, right, nominates his successor, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, seated at left, for another term. In the front row are Gene Berman, John Stewart, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, and Kai Mebust.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Incumbent Joe Membrino is seeking a full three-year term, as it Benton.
Incumbent McGuire Benton noted his service on the Doubleday Field and Parks committees.

COOPERSTOWN – By acclamation, the Democrats caucused a few minutes ago and nominated the three incumbents – Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Trustees Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton — to run for reelection in the March 18 village elections.

“It’s not a given that productive government continues,” former mayor Jeff Katz said in nominating his successor for her second term.  Patty MacLeish seconded the nomination.

Lynn Mebust chaired the caucus, with Ann Brown as secretary.

Rare Races Possible For Mayor, Trustees

INCUMBENTS RUN; SO MAY INCUMBENTS

Rare Races Possible

For Mayor, Trustees

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Benton
Membrino
Tillapaugh

COOPERSTOWN – Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh says she’s running for a second term in next March’s village election, adding that first-term Trustee MacGuire Benton is likely to as well.

And Joe Membrino, also in his first term, said he’s planning to run again, too.

But for the first time since the GOP debacle in 2011, the Republican Party may be running a slate as well, which would be the first challenge for Democrats who have control all trustee seats for almost a decade.

“Prior to the November election, we put the wheels I motion to start looking for candidates,” Republican County Chairman Vince Casale, who lives in Cooperstown, said Tuesday Nov. 12. “We’ve seen quite a bit of interest already.”

In the few years prior to 2011, Village Board election were highly contested, with Republicans and Democrats fielding full slates.

That year, however, Republican Mayor Joe Booan revealed in February he had opened conversations with county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., about turning over in-village policing to Devlin’s deputies.

The reaction brought Democrats Ellen Tillapaugh and Walter Franck onto the board, and reelected incumbent trustee Jeff Katz.

Booan spent a year struggling with a new Democratic majority, then retired in 2012, when Katz was elevated to mayor.

Except for Trustee Lou Allstadt, who sought both Republican and Democratic nominations when he ran in 2013, the Village Board has remained in Democratic hands ever since.

Because of neighbors’ rancor in recent months – over a proposed apartment house backing up to Pine Boulevard, flying the Pride Flag on the community flagpole, the installation of blinking traffic signs, a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskins Robbins outlet and, most recently, provisions for dormitories in a revised zoning code – Republicans may see an opportunity.

In an interview, Mayor Tillapaugh said she’s running to see a range of downtown and infrastructure improvements come to fruition, ranging from the $5 million in Doubleday Field renovations to upgrades to the water-treatment plant.

A redo of Pioneer Park, which the mayor championed, is “going to look fabulous,” she said.

While there has been some citizen unrest, Tillapaugh said the Village Board has sought to be accommodating.  For instance, the dormitory provision was removed after the public objected at an Oct. 28 public hearing, she said.

“We had a public hearing,” she said, “and the purpose of the public hearing was to listen to the public. It doesn’t mean you are always going to change things totally to make a group of people happy.”

However, she said, the trustees did adjust the proposed code in this case, and scheduled another public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, their next regular meeting.

“I didn’t close the public hearing until everyone had a chance to speak,” she added.  The discussion went on for 45 minutes.

Asked if the other incumbents plan to run again, she said, “I assume Mac is,” a reference to Benton.  “And hopefully, Joe too.”

For his part, Benton said, “I’m not prepared to make an announcement at this time.”  Membrino, who was out of town, called to say he does intend to run, and would be interested in being interviewed further on his return.

Membrino was appointed to serve out Tillapaugh’s trustee term when she was elected mayor in March 2018,  when Benton ran unopposed to serve the rest of Allstadt’s term after that trustee resigned.

While town elections are administered by the county Board of Elections, village elections are overseen by Village Administrator Teri Barown.

Each party must hold caucuses to nominate candidates between Jan. 21 and Jan. 28.

Independents may also run for mayor or trustee, and must submit petitions with a minimum of 50 signatures between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.

Village elections will be in mid-March.

Despite Village Atty’s Warning, Trustees Vote To Fly Pride Flag

DEBATE AT 22 MAIN

Despite Village Atty’s Warning,

Trustees Vote To Fly Pride Flag

Village Trustee Joe Membrino objects to a remark by Trustee MacGuire Benton that anyone wanting to have input into what flag flies on the village flagpole should run for trustee. (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – A month after voting unanimously to fly the Pride Flag on the flagpole next June, village trustees once again debated and, in the end, affirmed their decision.

“I gave every member of this board every opportunity to table this motion,” said Trustee MacGuire Benton, who introduced the resolution at the board’s July meeting.  “For any vote you can have a discussion.  We don’t need a unique, complex way to vote on flags.”

The debates started when the board’s “Adhoc Committee on Vexillology,” chaired by Benton, introduced a policy intended to give the Board guidance and clarity when taking up future proposals to fly flags.  But the committee’s resolution on “the Display of Flags at Village Facilities” had the opposite effect.

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