GOP, Alliance candidate searches coming up short in Schenectady
SCHENECTADY The Republican and Alliance parties are planning to make another run for Schenectady City Council this year, but they’re having trouble finding candidates.
Republican Richard Patierne, who ran for Schenectady County Legislature in 2011 and City Council in 2012, said a third run would be difficult after two consecutive losses.
“I’ve got to think things over. It’s been a long two years,” Patierne said.
Republican Mary McClaine, who has been repeatedly rejected in her quest to get her party’s nomination, still wants to run. But the party has chosen not to run her even when they didn’t have enough people to fill a slate against the Democrats.
This year, McClaine is trying to write letters to every member of the city Republican Committee.
“I will be 80 years old next month, and I will not stop until my name is on the ballot and the people have spoken in the ballot box,” she said. “I want to be on the council.”
But city Republican Committee Chairman Michael Cuevas is still searching for other candidates.
“We’re fairly confident of finding three candidates,” he said.
Morale in the small city party was shaken by Patierne’s overwhelming loss last year.
“After the last election, there were some people who didn’t expect an Obama-tide,” Cuevas said, explaining that a local Republican like Patierne didn’t have a chance in a presidential election year when many Democrats came out to vote for President Barack Obama.
He’s telling them Republicans will have a better chance this year.
“When you don’t have a presidential election, it’s a different store,” he said.
He has analyzed the number of votes that won independent Vince Riggi a seat on the council in 2011, as well as the number of votes for Patierne last year.
“There’s reason for optimism in this year’s election,” he said.
The county committee wants a full slate by mid-February, but Cuevas isn’t making any promises.
“We’ll have to see if that’s realistic,” he said.
Announcing a slate that early could give the candidates a leg up on Democrats, who may not announce their slate until April. The Democrats are facing a dilemma: well-liked Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard is up for re-election but suffered a stroke and is unlikely to recover soon. They do not want to hurry her, so they’re signaling that they may wait until April.
The only non-Democrat to win a City Council seat in seven years is Riggi, and he won by getting endorsements from both the Alliance Party and Republicans. Cuevas said his Republican committee may cross-endorse Alliance candidates again this year, but he and Alliance Party founder Roger Hull have not met to discuss candidates yet.
Hull said his party would run three of its own candidates.
“The fact is this is an independent operation,” he said.
Hull said he’s still looking for candidates — but that he won’t be one of them.
“I’m not going to run,” he said.
Hull ran for mayor in 2011, and came 89 votes shy of winning, out of more than 9,000 votes cast. Riggi won the same year.
Now the party needs to get more candidates like Riggi on the council, Hull said.
“We have to continue to fight to bring about meaningful change,” he said.
He added that he hopes Patierne will run again.
“He got beaten twice, and that’s tough to take,” Hull said. “But you just gotta get back in the saddle. We’ll see how he feels.”