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politics

Dutchess County Legislature Welcomes New Members With Some Very Close Races

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolinson, right, ran for mayor in the City of Poughkeepsie, giving up his seat as a legislator. The 25-member county legislature was expected to elect seven brand new members on Tuesday.
Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolinson, right, ran for mayor in the City of Poughkeepsie, giving up his seat as a legislator. The 25-member county legislature was expected to elect seven brand new members on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- The 25-member Dutchess County Legislature is expected to seat at least seven new members in January due to incumbents stepping aside or losing September primaries.

Five county legislature races remained close late Tuesday, according to unofficial returns from the Dutchess County Board of Elections.

Five sitting legislators did not seek re-election on Tuesday.

Two other incumbent legislators -- Democrat Gwen Johnson of Poughkeepsie and Republican Gerald Hutchings of LaGrangeville -- failed to secure major party ballot lines and lost their Independence Party bids on Tuesday, according to unofficial returns.

Republicans currently control a voting majority, with 15 seats to the Democrats' eight legislative seats. According to Tuesday night's unofficial returns, it looked like the GOP could pick up one more seat. There also is one Conservative Party legislator, Robert Weiss of Hopewell Junction.

In District 22, which includes Beekman and Union Vale, Marc Coviello of Beekman had more than 80 percent of Tuesday's vote total to 19 percent received by incumbent Republican Gerald Hutchings of LaGrangeville, according to unofficial returns. Hutchings ran on the Independence and Reform lines after Coviello secured both the Democratic and Republican lines and ran with the "We The People" team.

In District 9, incumbent Gwen Johnson of the City of Poughkeepsie lost a Democratic primary runoff to Kari Rieser, but her name appeared on the Independence Party ballot line on Tuesday. Rieser led Johnson by 65 to 35 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Two legislative leaders are leaving the Dutchess County Legislature at the end of this year.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison, a Republican, gave up his county seat to run for mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie, which he won on Tuesday.

Assistant Minority Leader Alison MacAvery, a Democrat representing Fishkill and Beacon, is leaving the legislature after 10 years for family obligations.

In a race still too close to call on Tuesday night, two former county legislators are seeking to fill MacAvery's vacated District 16 seat: John Forman, a Republican, had a 19-vote lead over Anthony Sciarrone, a Democrat,, according to unofficial returns. Forman's edge was about 1 percent after 1,938 votes were counted. The total does not include absentee ballots.

In District 19 -- which includes North East, Stanford, Milan and Pine Plains -- former legislator Debra Blalock, a Democrat, challenged Republican incumbent A. Gregg Pulver. Pulver led Blalock by 56 to 43 percent of the vote total, according to unofficial returns.

In District 7, Will Truitt, a 19-year-old Republican, upset incumbent Democrat Rich Perkins by 54 to 46 percent of unofficial votes cast on Tuesday.

Dominick Ignaffo of Hyde Park, a Green Party member appointed to fill Republican Sue Serino's vacated seat in January when she became a state senator, also decided against seeking reelection.

County legislators serve two-year terms and are paid $15,450 annually.

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