By HEATHER NELLIS
It's Election Day, and voters will choose members of Montgomery County's new form of government to be seated Jan. 1. Polls across the county are open until 9 p.m.
Both of the county's political party chairs urge citizens to exercise their right to vote today. Voters will elect an executive at-large, and a nine-member legislature.
"It's without a doubt one of the most important votes in decades for Montgomery County residents," said county Republican Party Chairman Joseph Emanuele III. "It's an opportunity to put together a solid form of government -- an executive and a legislature to start the push toward the future."
"It's incumbent upon all the voters to take this responsibility very seriously, and to truly consider who the most-qualified candidates are," said county Democratic Committee Chairwoman Bethany Schumann-McGhee.
Between the executive and legislators, Republicans have lined up a candidate for all but one of the available seats. Two of them are running unopposed in Districts 1 and 4 (Martin Kelly and Ryan Weitz, respectively).
Democrats have candidates for all but two of the seats. There's an unopposed Democratic candidate for District 6.
* Executive: Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Matthew Ossenfort versus Democrat Dominick Stagliano.
* District 1: Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Martin Kelly, unopposed.
* District 2: Republican and Democrat Thomas Quackenbush versus Conservative Brian Sweet.
* District 3: Republican John Thayer versus Democrat and Conservative Roy Dimond.
* District 4: Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Ryan Weitz, unopposed.
* District 5: Republican and Independence candidate Daniel Wilson versus Democrat and Conservative Terry Bieniek.
* District 6: Democrat and Conservative John Duchessi, unopposed.
* District 7: Republican, Conservative and Independence Barbara Wheeler versus Democrat Jeffrey Stark.
* District 8: Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Vito "Butch" Greco versus Democrat Joseph Isabel.
* District 9: Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Alex Kuchis versus Democrat Robert Purtell.
There are also several contested races at the local level across Montgomery and Fulton counties.
In the city of Amsterdam, three of the five available Common Council seats are contested: Edward Russo (R) against Kenneth Mazur (D) in the 1st Ward, Ronald Barone (R) against Debra Baranello (D) in the 3rd Ward and Diane Hatzenbuhler (R) against incumbent David Dybas (D) in the 4th Ward.
Additionally, Republican Matthew Agresta and Democrat Irene Collins are competing for city controller, finishing out the term of former Controller Ronald Wierzbicki, who passed away at the end of December 2012.
"I have a good feeling about all of the candidates, and hopefully they have impressed the voters," said Emanuele. "You can never be too confident, because you never know how people will fill out the bubbles in the booth. That's what makes this country, and the elections, so intriguing, important, and exciting.
Schumann-McGhee said she's confident in the team of candidates the Democrats put together.
"I think we've put together an excellent team based on resumes and experience," she said.