Scattered Primaries In New York’s North Country

Sep 12, 2017

While primaries in municipalities like Westchester County and Albany may draw a number of voters to the polls for major races today, in some counties there are only down ticket races.  In northern New York’s Clinton and Essex Counties, most primary races for local offices haven’t sparked massive interest.

In Clinton County there are primaries in the towns of Peru, Beekmantown and Saranac for town councilors and supervisors.  Six Essex County towns are holding primaries for town council positions, highway superintendents, town clerks and town supervisors.

Clinton County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell reports there are no countywide races.   “Most of the races this time around are local races although there’s the treasurer and the District Attorney are up this year and five of the ten legislators are up but none of them were challenged in a primary. And only actually one of the legislators has opposition in the general election.”

The primaries in Clinton County are on the Independence, Conservative and Working Families Parties lines.  Campbell notes that voters will find the two ballots for supervisor candidates in Beekmantown include a write-in.   “In this case both gentlemen circulated petitions and they got the endorsement from those parties to be candidates. However New York state has a provision that allows somebody to challenge that and what they do is an Opportunity To Ballot. But on this the difference is there’s no name.  All you’re doing is you put down the office that’s up for election and if they get enough signatures that are valid then they can force the primary.”
There are also no countywide races in Essex County. Six towns have seven primaries for local seats.  Democrats are vying for town council seats in Jay.  The six remaining primaries are all Republican candidates.  County GOP Committee Chair Shaun Gilliland expects a good turnout.  “Essex County is a strong Republican county.  These are in the smaller towns and when you have less than a thousand people in a town the word gets out fairly quickly. And if you’re a good campaigner, particularly in the North Country, you’ve knocked on a lot of doors and asked people to come out. The number one way to get people to vote for you is ask ‘em.”

The race that may bring out the most voters is Ticonderoga’s Republican supervisor’s race.  Incumbent Joseph Giordano is being challenged by Bill Grinnell, who was unseated two years ago by a write-in campaign by Giordano. Gilliland adds that the primary will likely determine the general election.  “Ticonderoga is politically a very interesting town.  The people there are pretty emphatic about the way they want their town to be run.  I’m going to surmise that Ticonderoga is going to have a pretty good turnout. I don’t know of anybody else, I may be mistaken, but I don’t know of anybody else who has filed for supervisor in Ticonderoga.  So this is the race between those two. So people realize that this is the race you know  pretty much for the next supervisor.”

In Clinton County, Campbell hopes he does not see a repeat of the low turnout that marred past elections.  “It’s just not something that there’s a lot of publicity about or awareness of and so usually it turns out to be a very low turnout.  I mean I remember a few years ago there was one voter.  That’s quite an expense for a community to have to have an election and then you get one voter turns out.”

Polls are open until 9 p.m. in the primary districts.