In Ward Five, three — maybe four — candidates are competing to represent the densely populated neighborhoods stretching across Midtown and Uptown Kingston. The seat is one of five left open on the council by the departure of incumbents; Jen Fuentes, the first member of the Working Families Party elected to office in Kingston, opted not to seek a second two-year term.
But Fuentes hopes to continue the liberal, labor-oriented party’s hold on the council seat. She recruited and promoted Janai McDonough, a homemaker turned neighborhood activist, to challenge political newcomers Republican Craig Johnson and Democrat Bill Carey. There’s also Nick Woerner, the former Town of Ulster supervisor who lost the Democratic Party primary to Carey but still holds the Independence Party line. Woerner said that he has not yet decided whether to actively campaign on the third-party line.
By the numbers, the ward looks like easy picking for anybody running on the Democratic line. Republican and Conservative Party voters combined make up just 17 percent of the ward’s 1,424 registered voters; 38 percent are enrolled Democrats and 36 percent list no party affiliation. But Johnson, a registered nurse who works in medical information technology, is hoping that a pledge of fiscal responsibility will trump party loyalty.
“I have Republican and conservative viewpoints and I feel those viewpoints will serve our city well,” said Johnson, 39. “Fiscal conservativism will serve our city well.”
A Saugerties native who has lived in Kingston for four years and on Garden Street in the Fifth Ward for two, Johnson said that he approached Republican Party leaders late last year seeking an active role in the city’s political scene. In June he was confirmed as the party’s choice to run in Ward 5.