Caucus 2017 – Setting the Record Straight
from the Rhinebeck Democratic Committee
As Rhinebeck prepares for the March 21 Election, every voter needs to understand the sequence of events that took place on January 28, when the local party caucuses were meeting to make Republican and Democratic endorsements for Village Board and Mayor.
The January caucus meetings are actually the last stage in a process that, at least on the Democratic side, starts in the late fall. That's when candidates meet with the party leaders, present their qualifications and lay out their vision for the Village. Usually, support coalesces around a slate of candidates who will be nominated at the caucus, with support from the leadership.
Heath called a committee representative about a possible Democratic Party endorsement. That call--the first time Heath approached the committee for support--came late on Friday, January 27, literally one day before the scheduled caucus. He said he had been "encouraged" to reach out to local Democrats. By then it was too late to do anything.
The next day, a few minutes after Heath locked in the Republican nomination, he showed up at the Democratic caucus and had his name placed in nomination. (Our caucus rules allow any registered Democrat to make a nomination, not just Party leadership.) This was no great surprise. Heath's the incumbent.
When the votes were counted, Heath lost, decisively.
Most people don't know this, but the fight didn't end there. After Heath lost the caucus-day vote, he filed a complaint with the Board of Elections challenging the legitimacy of the entire Democrat caucus process. Both the County Democratic and Republican Commissioners of Elections rejected his specious challenge and allowed the Caucus results to stand, so Heath failed in his efforts to disenfranchise Democrats.
If Heath wanted to secure the Democrat nomination, he should have reached out months earlier. Did he reach out to the Republican leadership only one day before their caucus to seek the Republican endorsement? Doubtful, but the last-minute caucus stunt was a long-shot worth trying. If it worked, he would run unopposed, as he did last time. That might be good for him, but it would have denied the voters of the Village any choice for Mayor.
Whatever view you have: this sequence of events tells us a lot about Heath's leadership style, which has now become a liability. Some time ago, he stopped reaching out to everyone. He has trouble working with elected members of the Village and Town Boards, and at one point he publicly even asked an elected official to resign.
That's why so many are opting for change. We understand that people want to limit partisanship in Village elections. Heath may wave the "non-partisan" banner, but it's partisanship in sheep's clothing. Disrupting the caucus and filing bogus complaints with the Election Board are trademarks of hard-ball partisan politics.
-- Rhinebeck Democratic Committee