Burke has strong showing at Schenectady County polls
Family Court candidate likely to have all ballot lines in November
SCHENECTADY COUNTY Kevin Burke landed the Democratic nomination for Schenectady County Family Court judge and is one vote away from being the only candidate listed on the ballot in November.
The chief prosecutor of abuse and neglect cases for the county’s Department of Social Services handily defeated challenger Jill Polk for the Democratic line, carrying 58 percent of the vote. Burke also guarded a 12-9 lead over Polk for the Working Families Party nomination, according to preliminary results from the county Board of Elections.
Burke doesn’t have a Republican opponent and carries all other party lines. This means the only possible challenge he could face during the general election would be a write-in campaign if he’s able to win the Working Families line.
Polk, a senior attorney for the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, still has a theoretical chance in the Working Families primary since three absentee ballots still need to be counted. If all three ballots fall in her favor, the race would be deadlocked and decided by the party’s leaders, who initially endorsed her for the nomination.
A spokeswoman for Polk’s campaign declined to comment Tuesday.
Even with victory almost assured, Burke said he remains committed to finishing out his campaign. In the end, he said his goal has always been to serve his community.
“It’s long been my desire to serve our community in this way; I hope I get this chance,” he said after the preliminary results were in. “I’m going to just work hard and see this through to the end.”
At stake is the seat on the bench vacated by Christine Clark when she was sworn in as a state Supreme Court justice in January. Her departure left Mark Powers as the sole full-time judge at one of the 3rd Judicial District’s busiest family courts, with four part-time judicial hearing officers assisting him to reduce the case load.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo could have appointed an interim judge for the court but opted not to. The result has been a backlog of cases in the court, which was being contemplated for a third judge’s position before Clark resigned.
Other outcomes — such as the Independence Party primary for the county Legislature’s District 3 — were a bit more difficult to read late Tuesday. A trio of Democrats endorsed for three seats appeared to fend off a challenge from Nick Gerace, a member of the Independence Party endorsed by the Republicans.
But with 86 write-in votes uncounted — 18.7 percent of the total votes cast — and 17 absentee ballots, the race is still up for grabs. Still, Rory Fluman, Martin Finn and Cathy Gatta maintained formidable leads.
Incumbent Legislator Karen Johnson defeated Benjamin Wallach by a landslide for the Conservative nomination. Wallach, however, will appear on the ballot on the Republican line in November.
In the Legislature’s District 4, incumbent Holly Vellano and newcomer Randy Pascarella easily defeated an opportunity to ballot-challenge, a form of write-in campaign.
In other primary battles across the county, the Republican-endorsed Roger Tidball fended off a challenge from William Park to secure the nomination for Duanesburg town supervisor. Tidball, a member of the town’s Planning Board, also warded off an opportunity to ballot-challenge that was waged by Park, the town’s former supervisor, for the Conservative line.
“I felt confident that I would win,” he said after seeing the results that showed him with 61.5 percent of the Republican vote.
Park, who was handed his first election defeat ever, said he was disappointed with the results but not discouraged. He said he’ll continue to challenge town officials on their budgeting practices and suggested he may even take another stab at running for office.
“Two years goes by really quickly,” he said.
Tidball, who is an independent, will now face Jean Frisbee, who is endorsed by the town Democrats. Frisbee is a member of the Town Board.
Republican-endorsed Town Board candidates Charles Leoni and Randy Passonno cinched victories over Laurie Meyer and Daniel C. Houlihan Jr., who were both intending to run on Park’s ticket. Leoni and Passonno also appeared to have emerged victorious from an opportunity to ballot challenge for the Conservative nomination, though three absentee votes could theoretically knock Leoni off the ballot.
Also in Duanesburg, incumbent Justice Robert Butler won the Conservative primary, handily defeating challenger Cori Hoffman.
In neighboring Princetown, Douglas Gray and Loretta Kuhland fended off a write-in campaign to win the Conservative nomination for two Town Board seats. Similarly in Rotterdam, the Conservative-endorsed Nicola Dileva and Kristie Hanson easily defeated an opportunity to ballot-challenge.