by Donna Thompson
New York’s lengthy redistricting process has been completed and a pair of upcoming primary elections will determine which candidates will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The new maps for New York State’s congressional and state Senate districts drawn by court-appointed expert Dr. Jonathan Cervas and approved by New York Judge Patrick McAllister were released early Saturday, May 21, and will mean changes in districts and representation for local residents.
The redistricting process, based on the 2020 census, has New York State losing one Congressional district while others have been reconfigured. The state’s Court of Appeals last month struck down the maps drawn by New York’s Legislature, saying they were gerrymandered to favor Democrats, and appointed Cervas to come up with a plan.
The delay has also resulted in a decision to postpone the primary election for Congressional and state Senate until Aug. 23 while the primaries for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, U.S. Senate, state Assembly, and other offices are set for June 28.
The list of candidates who will appear on the ballot for the primary elections has yet to be finalized, according to Herkimer County Election Commissioner Kim Tranter. Candidates have until June 10 to file petitions, she explained and added, “Right now, we don’t know who’s running.”
Some incumbents and hopefuls have announced their candidacies.
Little Falls will now be part of the 21st Congressional district and incumbent Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has announced her decision to run for re-election to the seat.
“I look forward to running for re-election in NY-21 where I have been honored and humbled to earn historic support every election cycle,” she said in a statement. “I will always work my very hardest to deliver real results for the hardworking families in Upstate New York and the North Country.”
She added, “While I’m deeply disappointed that I will no longer be serving as the Congressional Representative for Saratoga County and parts of Jefferson County, I look forward to continuing to earn support from voters to represent the hardworking families, small businesses, farmers, veterans, and seniors in Montgomery, Rensselaer, Schoharie, and Otsego Counties and to continue delivering real results to Upstate New York.”
It had appeared that Stefanik would face a challenger for her spot on the general election ballot, but Lonnie Koons, of Carthage, dropped out of the race in March.
Three Democrats have announced plans to vie for their party’s endorsement to try to unseat Stefanik.
Matt Putorti, of Whitehall, says in a statement on his campaign website that he is running for Congress “to improve the lives of the people in Upstate New York and to stand up against the threat to democracy now posed by Representative Elise Stefanik and the extreme faction of the Republican party that she leads — a faction that puts lies above truth, personal political opportunism over the good of the people, and tribalism over patriotism.”
Matt Castelli, of the town of Saratoga, is a former CIA officer and Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council who served in both the Obama and Trump administrations. “Country before party” is the slogan on his website. “I’m running for Congress to deliver meaningful solutions to the challenges faced every day by our neighbors, friends, families, and communities. In order to ensure that the North Country remains an incredible place where people and businesses can thrive, we must reduce the costs of daily life for working families, protect the health of our seniors and veterans, prioritize sensible investments for the 21st District to compete and win in the 21st century, and defend our country from all threats – foreign and domestic.”
Keith Sherrill, of Sackets Harbor, filed last September to run, but an Internet search did not turn up additional information.
Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, whose current NY-22 district represents much of Herkimer County, has announced she will seek the NY-24 seat, which runs from Niagara County to the Watertown area and includes some of the areas she represents in her current district.
Little Falls is now in the 49th State Senate District and the 118th Assembly District.
116th District Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, of Watertown, a Republican, plans to seek election to represent the new 49th Senate district, which includes Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, and Fulton counties along with portions of St. Lawrence, Oswego, and Herkimer counties.
“I’m incredibly excited to be running for the newly drawn 49th Senate District,” he said in a statement. “Our state is on the brink because of one-party rule in Albany. The price of everything goes up every day, our rights continue to get trampled on and New Yorkers aren’t safe. My record in Albany speaks for itself. I’ve been a fighter against power-hungry governors, I’ve called out misguided policy and pushed for common-sense initiatives to truly make New York a better place.”
On the Assembly side, incumbent Republican Robert Smullen represents the 118th Assembly District and is seeking reelection to the reconfigured district. He is the only candidate listed on the state election board’s website, but there could be additional candidates for this and other positions, according to Tranter.
The town of Little Falls is currently part of the 101st Assembly District and is represented by Assemblyman Brian Miller, a Republican. Miller (Republican Party, Conservative Party) plans to seek to represent the 122nd District.
The governor’s race will be among those on the ballot in June.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who became governor in August 2021 following the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be seeking election to a full term. She faces challenges from U.S. Representative Thomas Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, both Democrats.
On the Republican side, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin from Long Island along with former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani, and businessman Harry Wilson, are also seeking the gubernatorial post.
Early voting for the June 28 primaries is scheduled for June 18-26 at Benton Hall Academy, 15 Petrie St., Little Falls, according to the information posted on the Board of Elections page on the county website. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for June 21 and 22 when voting is scheduled for noon to 8 p.m.