The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, January 04, 2016


Most political columnists feel compelled to do a 'Winners and Losers' column at this time of year. Usually, anyone that follows politics can write the column. Yes, we all think Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos were big losers this year. Madden a winner. Those who won, winners. Those who lost, losers and so on. We'd like to be slightly unorthodox in our post. Not wholly unorthodox (we enjoy Greek food too much) but just a little. So, from a political standpoint we offer the following...



The Casey Stengel of Rensselaer County politics. Consistently underestimated. Consistently under-appreciated, consistently wins. Like Stengel, he doesn't win all the time but he does win more often than not.

Tom Wade has been the Democrat County Chair for about a decade. When he took over the party was slightly less powerful than the Whig Party. Wade has generally selected good candidates over the years and has rebuilt the party. The Democratic Party is now the dominate party, once again, in the City of Troy.

People have short memories. When Wade took over there was a Republican mayor, Republican District Attorney and the GOP had an overwhelming majority on the City Council. It took some time but it is clear, from the last election, that Troy's default setting is Democrat. The towns in the county are reliably Republican with the exception of East Greenbush and North Greenbush. One wobbles back and forth and the other is just a chaotic mess of factions that is about as stable as Sybil. The City of Rensselaer is Democratic, but not through Wades efforts. The remaining towns are overwhelmingly Republican but who really cares. You can have Petersburg.

Two Democratic mayors have been elected under Wade. The D's won the DA's office for the first time since Jim Canfield. They have done well in the judicial races as well. The City Council has had strong Democratic majorities for numerous cycles and this year there would currently be a 5-4 majority but for the third party.

This year, the Democratic mayoral candidate survived a third-party challenge that undoubtedly took votes from the Democrats, and won handily. Tom Wade has had a successful  stint as County Chair.


Kind of, sort of, the Pete Rose of politics. Especially this year. Not a very talented candidate (not the worst by far) but she masks that lack of talent with hard campaigning. Very hard. We wouldn't be surprised if Mantello knocked on every door four or five times. That hard work, a pathological need to hold office, and the Team Troy splinter group, propelled Mantello to the Council presidency.

A candidate can hit social media all day long but this is still a city that rewards retail politics. We doubt anyone campaigned  harder than Mantello.


Politically, very much like Dick Allen and if you understand that comparison you win a year subscription to The Troy Polloi. We were hard on Wiltshire and make no apologies for our position. It should be no secret why. We thought he could cost the Democrat the election and we did not want Gordon to become mayor. It's really that simple.

County Chair Tom Wade did not run Ernest Everett in the democratic mayoral primary. For those in the know, Wade tried to convince Everett to run for a city council position. Everett insisted that he was gunning for the top spot. That certainly worked in Madden's favor on primary day. Those who believe it was a big conspiracy will continue to believe that it was all planned out by Wade. Those privy to behind-the-scene conversations know that Wade tried to get Everett to run for council. Not trying to convince you but them's the facts.

That said, if Wade did convince Everett to run and siphon votes from Wiltshire, it was a stroke of political genius and nothing that requires any apologies. The fact that Everett may have played fast and loose with the rules is Everett's problem. Conventional wisdom says Wiltshire would have won the primary but for Everett. Maybe. Hard to say. If we were gamblers, we'd make that bet but we wouldn't bet our paycheck.

With that all out of the way, why do we place the man that lost the primary and came in third in the general election in the winners column? Regardless of motivation, Wiltshire built a third party organization, found candidates for almost every race and took on the establishment.  He refused to back down. He refused to make nice with the establishment and plunged headlong into a third party bid for mayor. In the end, he won a not insignificant minority of votes. His group probably cost Democrats the majority on the council (one at-large and District 6). He had an impact on the race that far exceeded most third party bids. If there's to be a successful third party winner in the future (admittedly a tough slog) Wiltshire certainly created a viable blue print for that win.


Kopka is the Lynn Kopka of politics. Kopka, the former at-large council person and current District 5 council person, has used up three of her nine lives. Two years ago she squeaked out a win over Carmella Mantello for an at-large council seat. This year, she was even more impressive.

Popular, out-going District 5 councilman Ken Zalweski does not like Kopka. He recruited political virgin David Bissember to run against Kopka for the Democratic nomination. Bissember, a likeable young man, was probably the most promising of the Team Troy council candidates. With the backing of Zalewski (again a very popular councilman in District 5), Bissember had a real chance of taking the nomination. On primary night it looked like he had won. When the absentees were counted, Kopka barely edged out Bissember by fourteen votes (or something crazy like that).

In the general, Kopka had to contend with a GOP challenger as well as Bissember's Working Families Party bid. A bid that clearly took votes from Kopka. So many votes that, once again, Kopka looked like the loser on election day. Once again, the absentee ballots propelled her to a win.

Say what you want about Kopka. Like her or not. This was an impressive campaign season for her.


Like Willie Randolph or Roy White, except he has a better arm. Bodnar won his fourth and final term as District 3 councilman. Bodnar has been professional, pragmatic and has steered clear of much of the partisan bull shit that occurs in city politics. If there were four or five Dean Bodnars on the council...well that would be strange and create a confusing ballot. But, you get our drift. A class act.


Anonymous said...

You do have a 5-4 minority. Deans a democrat you forgot to count him.

Phana24JG said...

Clearly, Wade and Mantello were the big winners. Bodnar is definitely a winner, as he goes from minority member to senior member of the majority. I think the jury is still out on Rodney. While Demo makes a good case for him, the fact remains he was the City Council President and is now a mere JAFO like most of us. While Team Troy clearly influenced the election, the only other success story, Bissember, was able to mount a serious challenge to the endorsed slate yet an incredible oversight cost them a win.

Regardless of Everett's motivation(s) and influence(s) in the race, a timely petition challenge would have eliminated Everett, tarred the Democratic Party, and resulted in Mayor Wiltshire, and possibly one or two seats for Team Troy. As was noted at the time, their ground game was excellent, but their legal game was terrible, and they had zero strategy for the general once they stumbled. I find it hard to declare a guy who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory a winner. Rodney is certainly capable of a comeback, but it remains to be seen if he will ultimately be declared a winner.

Kopka clearly gets the Nine Lives Award, but I submit she qualifies for a survivor's award more than a winner. Perhaps I am being a tad catty here(sorry, I just had to), but when you almost lose an election to a guy that carries a man-purse, you lose those all-important style points.

Honorable Mention: Kim McPherson - regardless of your opinion of her, she ran a very good campaign against quality opponents and prevailed in the face of some tough enrollment numbers. Jim Gulli - when you can win an election when running an anonymous campaign, it's worth a mention. Anasha Cummings - with two relatively weak lines, pulling over 1500 votes is no small accomplishment. Aside from the Mayor's race, no other candidate had anywhere near the buzz factor as Anasha. Finally, Erin Sullivan - despite a lot of insider negative publicity, she faced a good slate of candidates from both sides, and despite not having the coveted CON line, she ran a good second.

Anonymous said...

Petersburgh has been Democratic controlled for the last year and remains so following the November elections. Stephentown hasn't been Republican controlled since before the 2009 elections. Hoosick Falls is typically Democratic controlled. Other towns are seeing Democrats elected more often. Schodack has its first Democratic Town Councilor in who knows how many years.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

For the youngsters...

The only person on the many teams that former MLB player Dick (Richie) Allen gave two schpits about was Dick (Richie) Allen.

George Myatt said...

And Dick Allen famously missed an important double header so he could spend his time on leisure (albeit at the race track in Jersey, not Disneyland).

Anonymous said...

It was a very good night last night. Kim never used a swear word she managed to not light up a smoke and she didn't bring a cooler of beer.

Mike Schmidt said...

Richie Allen was one of the most talented ball players of his generation. His attitude and temperament, some said laziness, prevented him from reaching his true potential.

Anonymous said...

Phana has a point. Maybe Lynn should get the survivor award. Bodnar too. The last election was a clean win but he had some close calls. More to do with the make up of the district than him, I believe, but close calls nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Don't know who writes this blog but the author is perceptive on local politics. All comments about Democratic Chairman Wade are accurate.
He has shown particular skill in recruiting and nominating good candidates--Rosamilia and Madden stand out but there are several others.
He also doesn't back down from challenges for what he believes is the best move for the Democratic Party.
Yes, I am a Democratic Party insider and see the progress the party has made under his leadership and the enormous amount of time he devotes to the job.

Anonymous said...

Well said. No matter what mud is thrown on the man, he keeps moving the party forward with little if any compromise. Looking forward to the next election cycle.
...Otis B. Driftwood.

Phana24JG said...

So 9.16 thinks that as long as good candidates are nominated all is well? Yeah, Lou was a great candidate, and performed somewhere between the Sidney Smith and Steve Dworsky levels. Just marvelous. Pat certainly appears more competent than our previous Mayor, but he has a daunting task ahead of him.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Just a clarification, North Greenbush has been controlled by candidates aligned with the Republican party since 2008. The current coalition has maintained a 5-0 majority since 2012. The Sybil moniker should be given to East Greenbush which has changed party control three times the last three cycles. Sand Lake is now Republican controlled as well and most other towns enjoy Republican supermajorities.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:28 I would suspect the reasoning for the republican super majorities in Brunswick and all the outlying towns is because the residents don't want their towns to become like Troy.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. The towns would hate to have businesses move in, investment an an active downtown area. Outlying towns don't have the problems troy has because no one lives there. It's like saying troy doesn't have the same problems as Houston. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I;m sure the towns would hate to have businesses move in like Kokopellis and Bootleggers. Thanks but we'll stick with a diner, a tavern and a barbershop.

Anonymous said...

That is 2 out of ? Your preference for small town over a city is completely your call and their are attractions to that life. My point was, you can't compare the two straight up.

Pete said...

My favorite new show is cybil on right after judge judy and all my children

Anonymous said...

That's just mean. She's on my team and I am glad she's a part of our there's that. Since when is it not OK to have a beer?