History was made on Tuesday Sept. 12 when community participation surpassed that of any New Paltz town democratic contest in the past.
With the exception of presidential primaries, the New Paltz Democratic Primary, the first of its kind, has seen an all-time high voter turnout.
The race resulted in the election of current standing Town Supervisor Neil Bettez for a second term with a total of 557 votes against contender Marty Irwin, who received 203 votes. Current standing Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Torres received 612 votes and New Paltz resident David Brownstein received 587 votes, securing their continued race toward the two councilmanic positions. Opponent Jennifer Ippolito received 256 votes.
After hearing the results, community members flocked to Facebook, intrigued to understand the comparative numbers of voter participation between the past tradition of a caucus versus the newly implemented primary.
Torres explained that the caucus typically resulted in much lower numbers.
“We tended to fall just below 250 for the caucus. With absentee ballots we could have 900 voters in this race,” he wrote.
The exact number of ballots cast is still being calculated.
Torres was also quick to speak up about what Tuesday could mean for the community.
“This many people coming out tells me a lot of things; it tells me that people are really engaged in the happenings of our community and people appreciate the hard work being put in to elect our officials,” he said. “I am happy I won, but I’m even more happy about what this means about our town.”
Regarding the next few months leading up to the town election that will take place in November, Bettez claims that all three Democratic contenders will continue utilizing their previous tactics.
“We are still recovering from the last two months because we had been working very hard,” he said. “In the months going forward, it is safe to say that we will continue campaigning as we were and we are not going to take this for granted.”
Bettez also expressed amazement at the historic voter turnout that took place on Tuesday.
“We are going to make sure that voices are heard because the more people who are involved in an election, the higher quality the election is,” Bettez said.
Bettez explained that the primary allowed community members who could not make it out to polling places an opportunity to vote, whereas in years past the caucus did not leave room for such flexibility.
“This year was different because of the primary, if people were working, have disabilities or had any type of scheduling conflicts, their opinion still got taken into account,” he said. “It was a huge success.”
Two out of three candidates running on this slate were not endorsed by Democratic Committee members prior to the election. The committee went a different route, endorsing Torres, Irwin and Ippolito.
Incumbent Bettez, being one of the two, explains that, despite having not been endorsed during either of his campaigns, 2015 or current campaign, he still came out on top.
“I think it goes to show that the candidate endorsed by the committee does not always reflect the desires of the community,” he said. “This is the second time that they did not endorse me and it is the second time that I won an election overwhelmingly; I think this leaves room to believe that the committee might be out of date.”
Brownstein shared a similar sentiment to that of his campaign partners.
“I’m most excited about the amount of people who showed up and I can only hope those numbers increase by the next election,” he said.