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Ellicott Dems Eye General Election After Justice Vote

by Eric Tichy

Votes stirring controversy in recent months by the Ellicott Town Board over a justice position appear to have spurred some to run for office. At their caucus this month, the town's Democrats nominated a "full slate" of candidates for seats up for election this year: town supervisor, town clerk and town justice, as well as all four wards on the Town Board. James Jaroszynski, chair of the town's Democratic Committee, said between 25 and 30 residents turned up for the May 10 caucus. In most election years, he said it isn't uncommon for five people to turn up to nominate candidates.

Jaroszynski, who also is seeking re-election this November as mayor of Falconer, alluded to recent votes by the Ellicott Town Board as one reason for the swell in candidates coming forward. In March, council members approved a resolution abolishing one of its two justice positions currently occupied by Marilyn Gerace, whose term expires at the end of the year.

After the vote was widely criticized, most vocally by Gerace herself, the board rescinded the resolution at a meeting this month.

"We had a tremendous turnout of town residents who were clearly concerned about the more recent actions of our current Town Board," Jaroszynski told The Post-Journal in a statement. "For the first time in several years, we had a number of individuals interested in running for office this year. Many voiced concerns for the need for more open government and transparency. They no longer want the closed-door policy of the current board." Jaroszynski's wife, Sally, is the other justice serving the town of Ellicott. She, too, questioned council members for passing the resolution in March.

Town Democrats are backing the following candidates in the Nov. 7 election: Todd Beckerink for town supervisor; Adrian Swanson for town clerk; James Rensel for Town Board, Ward 1; Dave Lamantia for Town Board, Ward 2; Steve Cybart for Town Board, Ward 3; Daniel McNeill for Town Board, Ward 4; and Gerace for town justice.

Beckerink, Swanson, Lamantia and Gerace are all registered Democrats. Rensel is a member of the Conservative Party while Cybart and McNeill have no party affiliation. Patrick Tyler, the lone Democrat currently sitting on the Town Board in Ward 1, was nominated for reelection during the May 10 caucus. However, Rensel, formerly the mayor in Falconer, also was nominated and received more votes from Democrats in attendance. Tyler could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

"I'm happy to report that we have a full slate of excellent and experienced candidates who we are very excited and motivated for the November election," Jaroszynski said. Janet Bowman, a Republican, is seeking her first full term as town supervisor after replacing Patrick McLaughlin, who resigned early last year.

Amy Bellardo is seeking another term as town clerk, while Robert White (Ward 2), Katy Whitmore (Ward 3) and Kenneth Swan (Ward 4) have all filed petitions as Republicans for another term. No Republican is seeking the Ward 1 spot on the Town Board or the elected justice position long held by Gerace.

For the first time in at least two decades, town residents will see more than one name in just about every race. Town elections going back to 1999 have rarely featured more than one candidate running for a Town Board seat or the supervisor position.

In 2019, there was just one contested race. The last election to feature two candidates running for town supervisor was in 2007 with Tyler and Cecil Miller III.

Since 1999, the most contested election year in Ellicott occurred in 2003 with four races featuring more than one candidate.


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