BETHLEHEM — Progressive Democrats earned an early victory in Tuesday night’s primary election according to unofficial results provided by Albany County’s Board of Elections.
Joanne Cunningham pulled away from her challenger George Harder by taking more than 76 percent of the 703 votes in the county legislature race in District 34. Cunningham, the district’s current representative with the legislature, was one of three progressives running in town. She had teamed with both Jeff Kuhn (District 35) and Matt Miller (District 36) in a joint advertising campaign leading into Primary Day.
Each of the three walked away with the majority vote within their party. In addition to Cunningham’s victory, Kuhn staved off Sean Raleigh with a 490-260 result in the race for Delmar and Glenmont. For Glenmont and Selkirk, Matthew Miller will be on the party line after defeating Marc Gronich 285-78.
Miller’s counterpart on the Republican line will likely be David Harrington. Harrington beat Colin Dwyer by 27 of 248 votes.
Harder and Cunningham traded barbs in recent letters to the editor. Harder took aim on a perceived lack of attendance. Cunningham, however, denied the accusation and stated her attendance record, including 70 public legislative hearings and 43 sessions during her term.
Harder has been visible in town politics for more than 20 years, having run for town office along with Matthew Clyne as early as the ‘90s. Despite not winning an election, Harder has served on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals from 2011 to 2015. In 2017, he and Dan Morin successfully sued the town’s Democratic Committee for failing to properly amend its chosen candidates for that year’s general election with the Board of Elections. The gaffe resulted in Harder and Morin appearing on the party line with the committee openly endorsing candidates on the Working Families Party. That division remained apparent as Harder took additional shots at Kuhn, who in 2017 was the committee’s chair. He was later succeeded by Cunningham.
That history was later implied by both Harder and Raleigh, the latter of which described Kuhn as a “friends and family” candidate. Kuhn balked at that description, stating that he has no one in his family working in local or state government. Both he and Cunningham are pushing against nepotism in county government.
In the end, the voting majority did not lend weight to the accusations.
Each of the three local Democrats running for the legislature stands on progressive platforms that include reform and downsizing of the legislative body. Cunningham lists a record of authoring and cosponsoring several proposals, including bans on polystyrene and plastic bags, family and medical leave, and pay equity.
In other, countywide, all important Democratic Party primaries, according to unofficial results by the BOE:
—Susan Rizzo defeated Darius Shahinfar to replace the retiring Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners by a count of 9,098 to 8,023.
—Andra Ackerman defeated Holly Trexler for the open seat on the Albany County Court bench by a count of 8,481 to 7,839.
—For the two open seats on the Albany County Family Court, Amy Joyce and Sherri Brooks got 6,792 and 6,736 votes, respectively. The other candidates and their vote totals are: Jennifer Corona, 5,314; Margaret Tabak, 3,887; William Andrews, 3,823; David Levy, 2,329; and Michael Barone, 2,183.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.