Whether the pay hike draws a better class of candidates, as solons like to argue, is problematical. Seventy-nine-five didn’t exactly produce a bumper crop.
Back on the ranch, Ulster’s county legislators haven’t had a raise since their state counterparts cashed in 13 years ago. Ten thousand is base pay, more for leaders, but if there’s a drumbeat out there I haven’t heard it.
The argument that the legislature being downsized from 33 to 23 last year requires them to serve more constituents would fall on deaf ears in the executive wing, where department heads have been working at the same (generous) salaries since 2009. At the same time, the executive has taken over virtually all the administrative duties of the old legislature, leaving the new crowd with little more to do than to try to figure out what the word “policy” means.
Then again, the budget process is one of give-and-take. If 17 legislators commit to a pay raise — $12,000 a year has a nice ring — it could happen.
Unlike the county, city aldermen completed reapportionment of the common council with little fanfare, and they say, only minor changes. It figures. Kingston’s population has been stagnant for the past three decades, rising only slightly in the last census.
Given this kind of stagflation — population goes down, taxes go up — the council might have considered downsizing itself from nine to seven, or less. With six new aldermen — “Hey! We just got here!” — that idea probably didn’t go very far.
In defense of the legislature, a reapportionment commission had only a few months to draw maps, and for 10 fewer legislators, with party caucuses only weeks away when the final product was revealed. Aldermen had the luxury of time, a factor now figured into the county reapportionment process after the next census.
Like a lot of our readers, I’m still getting used to newly drawn state legislative districts with lots of new people running in them. Do the names George Amedore, Cynthia Tkaczyk or Tom Dolan ring a bell? Except for Tkaczyk, I haven’t seen any of these people since nominating conventions in June. A few road signs have been spotted.
With September primaries less than a month away, things are starting to heat up.
In the 46th State Senate District, which includes the towns of Woodstock, Saugerties, Ulster, Lloyd, Hurley, Esopus and Kingston and the City of Kingston, Republican Amedore faces no party opposition. However, a lively primary for the Democratic nomination has broken out among Tkaczyk of Duanesburg, Dolan, a town board member in Coeymans, and Maria Miranda of Albany County.
Tkaczyk, endorsed by four of five county Democratic committees, would appear the favorite in a district Democrats apparently consider winnable. Primary day, in deference to 9/11, is on Thursday, Sept. 13, meaning no doubt an even more abysmal turnout than usual. Under those circumstances, it could be anybody’s game.