Agree to Disagree: Milton, Malta and Trump

Donald Trump is still leading the Republican presidential polls, which does not fill me with cheer.

That’s not because of his positions on the issues. While I think his immigration policies range from the misguided to the ridiculous, he seems more willing than the other contenders to tax rich people, which is refreshing.

I sometimes enjoy Trump’s political incorrectness and refusal to apologize. But when his comments become obviously obnoxious and boorish, they are impossible to defend.

Local politics have gotten rough over the years in two Republican-controlled towns which held primaries yesterday, Malta and Milton.

The top vote-getter in Milton was Councilwoman Barbara Kerr, whose feisty willingness to take on Supervisor Dan Lewza and the board majority caused her to lose the support of the Republican Committee, which endorsed two other candidates for the two seats up for election.

The flier for the endorsed candidates said “Milton deserves a Board that can work together in a respectful, reasonable and professional manner,” implying that Kerr lacks those qualities. This, as the voters recognized, is nonsense.

In fact, Lewza is more likely than Kerr to lose his temper, although he also gets over it quickly. At a recent Town Board meeting, a member of the public (who serves on the Planning Board) made interjections from the floor, which he should not have done. Lewza threatened to have him ejected, before cooling down and de-escalating the situation. He’s feisty, too, but like Kerr does not stray into Trump-level dysfunction.

Still, the Milton GOP Committee’s decision to dump a woman who had been featured in a New York Times photo campaigning with Elise Stefanik was — to put it in a “reasonable” manner — bone-headed.

In Malta, by contrast, the Republican Committee succeeded in ousting two incumbent Town Board members, Peter Klotz and Tara Thomas, and electing challengers Craig Warner and Timothy Dunn. (I assume, with good reason, that the primary winners will also win the general election; the Democrats are not contesting these seats.)

Warner and Dunn ran negative campaigns, stressing the controversies in the office of  the town clerk, who happens to be Thomas’ mother. But the clerk is not running for re-election, and it will be a relief to move on from this issue.

Klotz and Thomas have impressive records of knowledge and service to the town, as does Supervisor Paul Sausville, who is not running for re-election. I wish them all well, and Town Clerk Flo Sickels, too.

Sausville has had in some ways a difficult tenure, often at odds with most of his fellow Republicans on the Town Board. Yet he has behaved with gentlemanly restraint and patience, as he has with members of the public who get upset about issues such as roundabouts. Yet it turns out he got his revenge. As a member of the Republican Committee, he told me he was supporting Warner and Dunn in the primary.

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant


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