Many villages across New York are holding elections today. One of those contests is a showdown between a longtime incumbent Democratic mayor and a prominent local Republican business owner.
In the southern Albany County Village of Ravena, the polls opened at noon. The race is on to choose a mayor. Democrat John Bruno is running for his seventh four-year term, facing off against the owner of the Halfway House Tavern, Republican Bill Misuraca. "Bruno's been the mayor for about a quarter of a century. He's done a lot of good work for the village but we just feel that it's time to get some fresh ears and eyes on the village board and just make some changes, bring us forward, bring the community together."
Mayor Bruno doesn't want the village apple cart upset. He says his work is unfinished. "There's a few things that are left within the village that I would really like to see completed. Number one is trying to get business back in the village. You know they blame the politicians for vacancies in businesses, but politicians don't own the buildings."
Misuraca says he too is pro-business, and if elected, vows to make the village of about 3,200 more business-friendly. "We need to revitalize our main street. Over the years we've lost a lot of businesses. Some of the properties, they're not looking as good as they should. We wanna research ways to improve the infrastructure without raising taxes, that's a big thing."
Bruno claims that under his leadership, the 100-year old village is "in good shape." "We have a checking account where we've got One Million one hundred and probably eighty some thousand dollars that is there. Every department that the village has, our water, sewer, our building department, our pool, everything - we have a reserve in every single department. Financially we're in really great shape. What's holding us back is the Town of Coeymans."
Bruno expects wastewater and infrastructure problems in the town to eventually halt new construction in the village. "Our waste water is treated by the Town of Coeymans, which is under a consent order. So we cannot build until the Town of Coeymans has their waste water system and their infrastructure taken care of."
He'd like to see the village build its own wastewater treatment plant. Bruno's also watching construction of a new set of train tracks. He worries about their proximity to housing in Ravena and the oil trains they're being built to support. Misuraca defends the area's legacy as "a railroad community," built around the tracks, and he believes the village can work with the freight line. "Obviously if there's something that's hazadous, traveling through ANYONE's community, that's a concern. We're still waiting on the official word, if it's anymore dangerous than - I used to work for CSX. They've been shipping propane, crude oil, all sorts of flammables for decades, without incident here. I'd just like to see that with that expansion of rail that all the speed limits are observed and all the safety precautions in place."
Observers predict a close race: four years ago, Mayor Bruno bested opponent James Van Valkenburgh by a mere 59 votes. In nearby Greene County, William Maley of Hunter is running unopposed for a fourth term as mayor.
Sullivan County incumbent mayor Mark Berentsen of the "Bloomingburg Strong" party is up against Rural Heritage Party hopeful Frank Gerardi. More than 230 of the village’s 393 registered voters, mostly Hasidic Jews, face validation: the website JP Updates reports the outcome of the election probably won’t immediately be known after polls close. Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick ruled Thursday that all voters whose registrations have been challenged must vote with an affidavit swearing they live where they’re registered.
The Ulster County village of Ellenville holds its elections in May. Sharon Springs in Schoharie County holds its elections in June. Other villages including New Paltz have opted to hold theirs in November. A handful of local villages this year have positions for which no one is running, leaving the race open to write-in candidates.
Polls are open until 9 p.m.