Races to watch in Schoharie County this election season

With all 16 town supervisor seats up for grabs and three major countywide offices also slated to be on the Nov. 3 ballot, it is setting up to be a contentious season of vigorous campaigning in Schoharie County.

Although County Treasurer Bill Cherry has become a lightning rod in local politics, he will not be facing a challenge in this fall's election. Neither will County Clerk Indy Jaycox nor County Judge George Bartlett. All three officials are Republicans. 

Currently controlling 10 of 16 seats on the county board of supervisors, the Republican Party is looking to strengthen its numerical advantage with challenges to Democrat incumbents in the Schoharie Valley. 

However, despite the GOP's advantage, few if any party line votes occur on the county board. Instead, supervisors regularly vote together across party lines, a result of differences stemming from a collection of new reform-minded legislators that have clashed with members of the good old boys network.

Below, we have highlighted three of the more interesting fall match ups in three towns in Schoharie County.

Town of Blenheim

Two years after knocking longtime Republican Supervisor Robert Mann Jr. out of office, local attorney and Democratic Supervisor Shawn Smith is facing an uphill challenge of his own for re-election.

Left: Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith. Photo via Smith's Facebook page

Surviving an attempt by Gail Shaffer to defeat him in the town's Democratic Caucus, Smith will now face Shaffer, a former Albany power broker, in the general election. Shaffer has served as a Blenheim Supervisor, a New York State Assemblywoman and as the New York Secretary of State.

A lifelong Democrat, she has secured the local GOP's nomination. She has been out of politics since the mid-1990s, when former Governor Mario Cuomo was defeated at the ballot box.

Town of Middleburgh

Incumbent Democratic Supervisor Jim Buzon has made a name for himself as an independent voice on the county board of supervisors, where he has persistently advocated for the streambank project, a controversial flood mitigation project that is currently $3 million over budget, despite the objections of many of his colleagues. 

Left: Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon. Photo via the Schoharie County webiste. 

This fall Buzon will face a challenge from Republican Pete Coppolo, a former employee of the county's public works department. Coppolo nominated himself for the race when no other candidacies were brought before the town's Republican caucus in August

Town of Schoharie 

Shaping up as the race to watch this fall, incumbent Democratic Supervisor Gene Milone is facing off against Republican nominee Chris Tague, who also serves as the vice-chairman of the Schoharie County Republican Party. 

Left: Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone. Photo via the Schoharie County website. 

Since securing his initial election to the county board in 2011, Milone has become a strong proponent of reform, which has included his pushing for the controversial Fitzmaurice Report on government corruption and the creation of a county administrator.

Tague, who is employed as the general manager of Cobleskill Stone Products, spent the balance of 2014 organizing Howe Caverns' unsuccessful bid to bring home a casino to Schoharie County. 

According to the August 11 edition of the print Schoharie News, Tague has already raised and spent over $2,000 in his campaign to unseat Milone, while the incumbent has adopted a more low-key effort in his attempt to seek a third term. 

Correction: Gail Shaffer's name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this article.