hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News & Issues October 2018



Here are the candidates and referendum questions on ballots for the Nov. 6 federal and state elections across the region. Because of space limitations, uncontested races are not included. A guide to political party abbreviations is at right. Incumbents are marked with an asterisk (*). Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Massachusetts, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in New York and at least 10 a.m. (earlier in many locations) to 7 p.m. in Vermont. Voter registration deadlines are Oct. 17 in Massachusetts, Oct. 12 in New York and Nov. 6 (Election Day) in Vermont.


C -- Conservative Party
D -- Democratic Party
ER -- Earth Rights Party
G -- Green Party
GR -- Green-Rainbow Party
I -- Independence Party
i -- independent (no party)
L -- Libertarian Party
LU -- Liberty Union Party
P -- Progressive Party
R -- Republican Party
RF -- Reform Party
WE -- Women’s Equality
WF -- Working Families Party




* Charles Baker and Karyn E. Polito (R)
Jay Gonzalez and Quentin Palfrey (D)


Shiva Ayyadurai (i)
Geoff Diehl (R)
* Elizabeth A. Warren (D)


* Maura Healey (D)
James R. McMahon III (R)


Anthony M. Amore (R)
* William Francis Galvin (D)
Juan G. Sanchez Jr. (GR)


* Deborah B. Goldberg (D)
Jamie R. Guerin (GR)
Keiko M. Orrall (R)


* Suzanne M. Bump (D)
Helen Brady (R)
Daniel Fishman (L)
Edward J. Stamas (GR)


Governor’s Council, 8th District
Mike Franco (i)
* Mary E. Hurley (D)

Ballot Propositions


Question 1 -- Mandate nurse staffing levels
A Yes vote would limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other health care facilities. The maximum number of patients per nurse would vary by hospital unit and level of care. In hospital emergency departments, for example, the maximum would range from one critical or intensive-care patient per nurse to five non-urgent, stable patients per nurse.
The proposal is supported by nurses unions, who say the new standards would lead to better patient care and outcomes. But organizations representing hospitals say the requirements would sharply raise costs and could even force some hospitals to close.


Question 2 -- Limit corporate campaign spending
A Yes vote would create a citizens commission to recommend possible amendments to the U.S. Constitution establishing that “corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated.”
Supporters say the proposal aims to start the process of drafting a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling. The 2010 court ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts in an effort to sway elections, as long as they did not coordinate directly with candidates’ campaigns.


Question 3 -- Ban transgender discrimination
A Yes vote would retain a law passed by the Legislature in 2016 that adds gender identity to the state’s list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants and shopping malls.
Like supporters of “bathroom bills” that were the focus of controversy in North Carolina and Indiana in recent years, backers of Question 3 claim the anti-discrimination law could allow men, for example, to gain access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.
Opponents counter that the new law hasn’t resulted in even a single complaint of invasion of privacy, let alone assault.


With polls suggesting incumbents are strongly favored in every statewide race, it appears the three ballot propositions are most likely to draw voters to the polls.
In the Berkshires, Question 1 likely will be of keen interest, given that staffing levels were a major issue in a lengthy contract dispute over the past two years at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
The ballot question is strongly supported by the Masschusetts Nurses Association, which says mandated staffing levels would ensure better bedside care for patients. But officials at Berkshire Medical Center have predicted the measure would increase the hospital’s staffing costs by $1.3 billion in the first year -- and might force it to stop admitting patients to avoid exceeding the proposal’s mandated patient-to-nurse ratios.
In the lone U.S. House seat for western Massachusetts, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, is unopposed for re-election after easily fending off a primary challenge last month.
Likewise, state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, is unopposed in November after a lopsided primary victory. And the Berkshires’ four state representatives -- Democrats John Barrett III, Paul W. Mark, Tricia Farley-Bouvier and William “Smitty” Pignatelli -- all are unopposed for re-election.
In the Sept. 4 Democratic primary, the major upset locally was in the race for district attorney, where Andrea Harrington, a lawyer in private practice who cast herself as a reformer, defeated the incumbent, Paul Caccaviello, and another reform candidate, Judith Knight.
Although Harrington is now the only candidate on the November ballot for district attorney, Caccaviello announced in mid-September that he plans to mount a write-in campaign to keep his seat. Caccaviello, who has worked in local district attorney’s office for 30 years, was appointed to his post in March after the retirement of David Capeless, his longtime boss. The office under Capeless and Caccaviello had faced criticism for pursuing harsh sentences in minor drug cases and for what Harrington and others cast as its opposition to criminal-justice reforms and its tolerance of police excesses.




* Andrew Cuomo and Kathy C. Hochul (D, I, WE)
Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee (G)
Stephanie Miner & Michael J. Volpe (i)
Marc Molinaro and Julie Killian (R, C, RF)
Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams (WF)
Larry Sharpe and Andrew C. Hollister (L)


* Thomas P. DiNapoli (D, I, RF, WE, WF)
Mark Dunlea (G)
Cruger E. Gallaudet (L)
Jonathan Trichter (R, C)


Christopher B. Garvey (L)
Letitia A. James (D, I, WF)
Nancy B. Sliwa (RF)
Michael Sussman (G)
Keith Wofford (R, C)


Chele Chiavacci Farley (R, C, RF)
* Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D, I, WE, WF)


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE -- 19th District
(11 counties including Columbia and most of Rensselaer)
Antonio Delgado (D, WE, WF)
* John J. Faso (R, C, I, RF)
Steven Greenfield (G)
Diane Neal (i)


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE -- 20th District
(Albany, Schenectady, southern Saratoga and parts of Montgomery and Rensselaer counties)
* Paul D. Tonko (D, RF, WE, WF)
Joe Vitollo (R)


(11 counties including Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga)
Tedra L. Cobb (D, WE, WF)
Lynn Kahn (G)
* Elise M. Stefanik (R, C, I, RF)


State Supreme Court Justice -- 3rd District
(Columbia, Rensselaer, Albany, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties) (2 seats, 14- year terms)
Peter A. Lynch (D, WF)
* William E. McCarthy (R, C, I)
Margaret T. Walsh (D, I, WF)



43rd district (Columbia County and parts of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties)
Aaron W. Gladd (D, WE, WF)
Daphne V. Jordan (R, C, I, RF)


44th district (parts of Rensselaer and Albany counties)
* Neil D. Breslin (D, I, WF)
Christopher F. Davis (R, C, RF)


45th district (Warren, Essex, most of Washington and three other counties to the north)
* Elizabeth O’C. Little (R, C, I, RF)
Emily L. Martz (D, WF)


49th district (Fulton, Hamilton and parts of Herkimer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties)
Michelle Ostrelich (D, WE, WF)
* James N. Tedisco (R, C, I, RF)




102nd district (Greene and Schoharie plus parts of Columbia, Albany and Delaware counties)
Aidan S. O’Connor Jr. (D, WE, WF)
* Christopher Tague (R, C, I, RF)


106th district (parts of Columbia and Dutchess counties)
* Didi Barrett (D, I, WF)
William G. Truitt (R, C, RF, WE)

107th district (parts of Columbia, Rensselaer and Washington counties)
* Jacob C. Ashby (R, C, I, RF)
Tistrya Houghtling (D, G, WE, WF)


113th district (parts of Saratoga and Washington counties)
* Carrie Woerner (D, I)
Morgan Zegers (R, C, RF)


114th district (Warren, Essex and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties)
* Daniel G. Stec (R, C, I)
Kathryn K. Wilson (WF)


* Joel Abelove (R)
Mary Pat Donnelly (D, I, WE, WF)



As in Massachusetts, polls suggest incumbents are strongly favored in virtually all of New York’s statewide races, despite a corruption scandal that last month saw one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides given a six-year prison sentence for accepting more than $300,000 in bribes.
But there are hard-fought races under way in two area congressional districts and in several state legislative districts around eastern New York -- as well as a heated contest for Rensselaer County district attorney.

Also potentially competitive is an open-seat race for state attorney general, where the incumbent, Barbara Underwood, had pledged to serve only on an interim basis after the resignation in May of two-term Democrat Eric Schneiderman. The state’s heavily Democratic voter enrollment favors the winner of last month’s Democratic primary, Letitia James, who is currently the New York City public advocate.

But there might be some lingering Democratic divisions from the primary, in which James, who had Cuomo’s backing, defeated three other candidates including Cuomo critic Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who has focused on fighting public corruption. The Republican candidate, Keith Wofford, is a lawyer who has never held elective office.

The most closely watched races by far in eastern New York have been the U.S. House contests in the 19th and 21st congressional districts. Both are considered potential swing districts, and both now are represented by Republicans who have been under fire for their crucial votes last year in favor of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.


Independent analysts concluded that the Republican bill, which later failed in the Senate, would have led to a sharp increase in the number of people without health insurance.

In the 19th district, freshman Rep. John Faso faces Antonio Delgado, a lawyer from Rhinebeck who prevailed in a seven-way Democratic primary in June, and two minor-party challengers. Democrats have a slight voter-enrollment edge in the district, which stretches south and west from Rensselaer and Columbia counties to the Pennsylvania border. Nonpartisan analysts rate the race a tossup, and the contest is shaping up as one of the most expensive in New York, with interest groups on both sides targeting the district with advertising.

Faso has sought to cast Delgado as an outsider, partly by pointing out the challenger’s relatively recent move from New Jersey to Rhinebeck, and partly by pointing to what he says are offensive song lyrics from Delgado’s short-lived career as a rap singer before he went to law school. Delgado supporters say the latter line of attack amounts to “race baiting.” (Delgado is black.)
Delgado has stressed his upstate roots (he grew up in Schenectady; his wife is from Woodstock) while trying to keep the focus on health care and other issues where he contends the incumbent’s views are out of step with his constituents.

In the 21st district, two-term Rep. Elise Stefanik is considered a safer bet for re-election, but the race has the potential to tighten in the final stretch. Democratic candidate Tedra Cobb, a former St. Lawrence County legislator, has made health care a centerpiece of her campaign, saying the bill Stefanik supported would have forced rural hospitals to close and left an additional 83,000 people without health insurance in the 21st district.

Cobb, who handily won a five-way Democratic primary in June, also has criticized Stefanik’s votes as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats contend the committee’s Republican majority worked to undermine an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Cobb has said Stefanik “chose party over patriotism and truth” by voting with committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Stefanik has stressed her support for gun rights, especially after a video surfaced in July showing Cobb telling a supporter that she favored an assault-weapons ban but couldn’t say so publicly for fear of losing the election. The video turned out to have been recorded without Cobb’s knowledge by a Saratoga County teenager who posed as a Cobb supporter -- and The Post-Star of Glens Falls reported that the teenager was an intern for Stefanik who had been paid nearly $1,000 by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Republicans enjoy an enrollment edge of about 40 percent to 30 percent in the 21st district, which stretches from Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties to the Canadian border and west to Lake Ontario.

As in other recent elections, control of the closely divided state Senate could be up for grabs. Republicans currently control the chamber by a razor-thin 32-31 majority. Locally, though, long-entrenched incumbents appear heavily favored in all but one district.

In the 43rd district, three-term Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, opted not to run again. Competing to succeed her are Daphne Jordan, a Republican who served as Marchione’s legislative director for the past six years, and Democrat Aaron Gladd, who most recently was an aide to Cuomo but previously worked for the late Republican Sen. Tom Libous. Jordan currently serves as a Halfmoon town councilwoman; Gladd is an Army veteran who served in combat in Afghanistan.

Democrats contend the 43rd district is winnable, as Republicans have a voter enrollment edge of only about 3 percentage points, but Marchione won nearly two-thirds of the vote in her last two races.

Among area Assembly races, two Republicans who won their seats by narrow margins in special elections earlier this year will face their first tests in a general election. In the 102nd district, a mainly west-of-Hudson district that includes the Columbia County towns of Stockport and Stuyvesant, Republican Christopher Tague will face a rematch with Aidan O’Connor, whom he defeated by fewer than 200 votes in April. In the 107th district, incumbent Jake Ashby will be challenged by Tistyra Houghtling, the New Lebanon town clerk.

In Rensselaer County, District Attorney Joel Abelove is seeking a second term in a campaign that so far has focused mainly on controversies from his first four years in office.

Abelove spent the first half of this year under a legal cloud after he was indicted in December on a felony charge of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct in connection with his handing of the fatal police shooting of a drunken-driving suspect. But a judge dismissed the charges in June, ruling that the state attorney general’s office exceeded its authority in bringing the case.

The case stemmed from the death of Edson Thevenin, a 37-year-old black man from Colonie who was shot eight times by a Troy police sergeant during an April 2016 traffic stop. Former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office charged that Abelove short-circuited the inquiry into Thevenin’s death, effectively granting immunity to the Troy officer while failing to let a grand jury hear testimony from two civilian witnesses who said they didn’t believe the officer was in imminent danger when he opened fire.

Abelove has argued that the prosecution by Schneiderman, a Democrat, was motivated by partisan politics and that he was “vindicated” by the judge’s dismissal of the case.
Democratic challenger Mary Pat Donohue, a former East Greenbush town justice, has focused on other issues -- including staff turnover in the district attorney’s office and a series of cases that were dismissed for failing to meet speedy trial deadlines -- as evidence of what she contends is Abelove’s poor management of the office.



Trevor Barlow (i) of Cavendish
Cris Ericson (i) of Chester
Christine Hallquist (D) of Hyde Park
Charles Laramie (i) of Fair Haven
Stephen Marx (ER) of Strafford
Emily Peyton (LU) of Putney
* Phil Scott (R) of Berlin

Lieutenant governor
Murray Ngoima (LU) of Pomfret
Don Turner Jr. (R) of Milton
* David Zuckerman (D, P) of Hinesburg


Folasade Adeluola (i) of Shelburne
Russell Beste (i) of Burlington
Bruce Busa (i) of Readsboro
Edward S. Gilbert Jr. (i) of Barre
Reid Kane (LU) of Hartford
Brad J. Peacock (i) of Shaftsbury
* Bernie Sanders (i) of Burlington
Jon Svitavsky (i) of Bridport
Lawrence Zupan (R) of Manchester

U.S. Representative
Cris Ericson (i) of Chester
Laura Potter (LU) of Charleston
Anya Tynio (R) of Charleston
* Peter Welch (D) of Norwich


State treasurer
Richard Morton (R) of Brattleboro
* Beth Pearce (D) of Barre


Secretary of state
* James C. Condos (D) of Montpelier
Mary Alice Herbert (LU) of Putney
H. Brooke Paige (R) of Washington


Marina Brown (LU) of Charleston
* Doug Hoffer (D, P) of Burlington
Richard Kenyon (R) of Brattleboro


Attorney general
* T.J. Donovan (D) of South Burlington
Rosemarie Jackowski (LU) of Bennington
Janssen Willhoit (R) of St. Johnsbury



Bennington District (two seats)
* Brian Campion (D)
Jeff Kaufer (L)
* Dick Sears (D)


Rutland District (three seats)
* Brian P. Collamore (R)
Greg Cox (D, P)
Scott Garren (D, P)
Cheryl Hooker (D, P)
Edward Larson (R)
James L. McNeil (R)

State House

Addison-Rutland District (towns of Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, Whiting)
Terry Norris (i)
Barbara Wilson (D)

Bennington District 1 (towns of Pownal and Woodford)
Nelson Brownell (D)
Frederick Miller (i)
James A. O’Connor (R)


Bennington District 2-1 (two seats; town of Bennington)
Chris Bates (D)
* Timothy R. Corcoran II (D)
Kevin Hoyt (R)
Michael Stern (i)


Bennington District 4 (two seats; towns of Arlington, Manchester, Sandgate and Sunderland)
* Cynthia Browning (D, R)
Kathleen James (D)
* Brian Keefe (R)


Rutland-Bennington District (Middletown Springs, Pawlet, Rupert, Tinmouth and Wells)
* Robin Chestnut-Tangerman (D, P)
Edgar Cleveland (R)


Rutland District 2 (two seats; Clarendon, Proctor, Wallingford and West Rutland)
* Tom Burditt (R)
Ken Fredette (D)
* Dave Potter (D)


Rutland District 3 (two seats; Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton, West Haven)
* William Canfield (R)
* Robert Helm (R)
Robert J. Richards (i)


Rutland District 5-1 (city of Rutland)
* Peter Fagan (R)
Heather Juliussen-Stevenson (D, P)


Rutland District 5-4 (city of Rutland)
Jacqueline “Beth” Fleck (R)
William Notte (D)


Rutland District 6 (two seats; Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury)
Tim Guiles (D, P)
Seth Hopkins (R)
Stephanie Jerome (D)
* Charles “Butch” Shaw (R)


Rutland-Windsor District 1 (Bridgewater, Chittenden, Killington, Mendon)
* Jim Harrison (R)
Gina Ottoboni (D)


Rutland-Windsor District 2 (Ludlow, Mount Holly and Shrewsbury)
Peter Berger (i)
Logan Nicoll (D, P)


Arnie Gottlieb (i) of Dorset
* Erica Albin Marthage (D) of Manchester
Christina Rainville (i) of Chester


A slate of Democratic incumbents -- plus Republican Gov. Phil Scott and independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders -- all appear favored for re-election in Vermont’s statewide races this fall, though upsets at the state level never seem quite as impossible in Vermont as they do in Massachusetts and New York.

More unpredictable, though, are the region’s many state legislative races, especially for five state House seats in Bennington and Rutland counties where there are contested races with no incumbent on the ballot.

In the race for three state Senate seats representing Rutand County, there will be at least two new senators elected in November after incumbent Sen. David Soucy lost his seat in a five-way Republican primary in August. Longtime Republican Sen. Peg Flory left a second vacancy when she opted not to run again.

-- Compiled by Fred Daley