By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff
Three of the five incumbent Amsterdam Common Council members are set to face challengers in their re-election bids after party line candidate designating petitions were filed, but objections and independent candidates could change races.
Amsterdam voters will head to the polls in November to vote on the city council representative for their respective ward, with alderpersons holding a two-year term. All five incumbent aldermen filed petitions for their respective parties, but Democratic candidates Chad Majewski and James Martuscello, for the 3rd and 5th wards respectively, do not face a challenger to date.
The deadline to file petitions for an established political party was Thursday evening, but designating petitions for candidates of independent parties can be filed from Aug. 15 through Aug. 22.
Montgomery County Democratic Election Commissioner Terry Bieniek said Friday afternoon two general objections were filed against city petitions, but he declined to specify against what candidate or who filed the objection. Anyone can file an objection until 5 p.m. Monday.
A general objection essentially allows a person more time to file a specific objection, with more detail in regards to a petition. A specific objection must be filed within three business days after a general objection is filed.
Incumbent 1st Ward Alderman Edward Russo filed designating petitions for the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, while Pamela Swart filed designating petitions to run as the Democratic candidate for the 1st Ward. Russo and Swart could not be reached for comment Friday.
During the 2015 General Election, Russo was the only incumbent on the Common Council to retain their seat. Russo defeated Democratic challenger Kenneth Mazur to be re-elected that year.
A rematch is primed for the city council’s 4th Ward seat, with incumbent Rodney Wojnar filing designating petitions for the Democratic Party, and Diane Hatzenbuhler filing petitions to run as the Republican candidate.
Wojnar said he is seeking re-election to continue with changes the council had made to better the city. He also wants to continue helping residents of the 4th Ward with any issues faced.
“I just want to help out and give back,” Wojnar said.
Wojnar said serving as an alderman has been a rewarding experience with “ups and downs.” He believed the current administration has operated smoother compared to prior years.
Hatzenbuhler when contacted Friday afternoon said she was not prepared to make a statement at that time.
Incumbent Paul Ochal filed designating petitions for the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, but there are two candidates vying to be the Democratic challenger in the race.
Valerie Beekman and James Glorioso Jr. filed designating petitions to be the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Ward election, which would lead to a Primary Election if their petitions were not ruled invalid. The primary election would be held Sept. 12.
Glorioso said he is passionate about improving the community and he believed there has been a lack of support from the current and prior council members for the 2nd Ward.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in the city still that somebody like me that’s very aggressive that has a big passion and drive to get things done can do,” Glorioso said. “The city needs some really aggressive people that are going to be very visible in the community and in their wards.”
Beekman is seeking to regain the seat she lost two years to Ochal. Beekman could not be reached for comment Friday.
Glorioso said he filed a general objection against Beekman’s designating petitions and he is planning to file a specific objection on Monday. He was confident the county Board of Elections would rule in favor of his objection and there would not be a Primary Election.
Ochal said he is seeking re-election to continue working with the mayor and city council, which he believed has made good progress on issues to date.
“The council has been working well together with the mayor and the controller in trying to get the finances squared away,” Ochal said. “We’ve put together a couple of budgets that I think are doing what we need to do for the city and trying to contain taxes as much as we can.”
Ochal said his primary motivation for seeking another two years on the council is to continue working for the betterment of the city.
Glorioso still intends to run for Montgomery County Sheriff next year even if he is elected 2nd Ward alderman. He also did not see an issue with seeking the city seat while eyeing the county position because his focus is to serve to the community.
“There’s a lot of elected people throughout the country that hold an elected seat while running for another elected seat that’s higher,” Glorioso said. “Why should they prevent themselves from still doing something good in the job that they’re in or going for?”
Glorioso said what he can accomplish in the city up until the county sheriff’s election would “significantly benefit” the 2nd Ward and city.
“My passion is just to help the city,” Glorioso said. “If I won the election and become sheriff, I’m still going to be very, very highly involved in the city, which will be unorthodox for a sheriff to do but it’s where I live and it’s where I want my family to live. I’m not just going to disregard it because now I’m the sheriff of the county.”
Additional challengers could still emerge in races since independent party petitions are not due until next month.
Anyone is eligible to sign a designating petition for an independent party if they have not already signed another petition for that elected office. These petitions also require more signatures, because there are a greater number of eligible voters who can sign it.
A valid petition for an independent party would allow that candidate’s name to be placed on the ballot line for the party in the general election.