Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2011 edition of the Kingston Times.

While Common Council candidates in seven Kingston wards will be pounding the pavement seeking votes this fall, a newcomer in Ward 6 and a veteran in Ward 8 — both Democrats — will enjoy a free ride to City Hall.

At left, Bob Senor. At right, Elisa Ball.

In Ward 6, Elisa Ball, a 43-year-old educator, is the only candidate for the council seat representing a mostly residential stretch of northeast Kingston. Ball, who ran a tough-but-unsuccessful race for the seat in 2009, will replace Ron Polacco, who opted to run for mayor in lieu of third term. The vacant spot on the ballot comes in a ward where Republican candidates have generally fared better than elsewhere in the heavily Democratic city. Prior to Polacco, the seat was held by Richard Cahill Jr., who gave up the seat for his own mayoral run in 2007.

Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Tony Sinagra said that he had hoped that Polacco would abandon the mayoral contest after he received scant support at the party’s June convention. By the time it became clear that Polacco had no intention of dropping out, Sinagra said, it was too late to field a viable candidate against a well-organized and determined Ball — already well known in the ward following her previous campaign and ongoing involvement with ward issues.

“I really thought that Ron would pull out,” said Sinagra. “And when he didn’t I thought it would be better to leave that line blank than to just throw a sacrificial lamb out there.”

Ball said that she would focus on providing services for the Sixth Ward’s large population of senior citizens and children. (The ward is home to several housing complexes serving the elderly and low-income families.) She’s currently working with the Ulster County Office for the Aging to connect Kingston High School students looking for volunteer opportunities with seniors who need help bagging leaves and shoveling snow. She is also working top bring the Marist College women’s soccer team to the city for a free soccer clinic at Dietz Stadium for local youth.

“We don’t have a lot of activities that have no cost attached to them,” said Ball. “We need to make Kingston a place where people want to come and raise a family.”