Even though he was miles from the scene, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry had a hand in Jefferson Republicans' caucus Friday night.
Long at odds with incumbent Supervisor Dan Singletary, Mr. Cherry wrote a letter slamming Mr. Singletary to Jefferson Republicans, who in turn selected Sean Jordan to be their supervisor candidate in November.
Friday's caucus drew 105 Republicans--about one quarter of the town's GOP members--and they voted 69-36 in favor of Mr. Jordan.
"They were there distinctly not to vote for Jordan but to vote against me [because of the letter]," Mr. Singletary said.
"It's damn good politics. He knows that business," he added, referring to Mr. Cherry.
Getting the GOP nomination is an almost sure-fire path to election. The last Democratic supervisor in Jefferson was Martha Dayton in the early '70s.
Mr. Cherry and Mr. Singletary clashed often at Board of Supervisors meetings, most recently about the Butternuts Beer and Ale mortgage on Guilford Mills. These battles prompted Mr. Cherry's letter, mailed to all Jefferson Republicans. He paid the $500 cost himself.
The letter blames Mr. Singletary for engineering the elimination of the nurses in the county Health Department, convincing other supervisors to get rid of Health Administrator Katie Strack and pushing through $2 million in county funds for water and sewer lines along Route 7 in Cobleskill.
". . .He has been directly at the center of every big-ticket financial boondoggle the county has gotten involved in over the past four years," Mr. Cherry wrote.
And, "I am also one of Mr. Singletary's favorite political targets, and his personal attacks against me have become well-known."
Defending his right to send the letter and influence Jefferson affairs, Mr. Cherry said that "as a longtime public official, Jefferson residents are mine as well as his."
Four years ago, Mr. Cherry wrote a similar letter to Seward residents sharply criticizing then-Supervisor Larry Phillips, a Democrat, and Mr. Phillips subsequently lost the Democratic nomination.
"Once in a while a supervisor comes along who crosses the line," Mr. Cherry said, explaining his actions.
Mr. Singletary doesn't think so. He responded to Mr. Cherry's missive with his own letter to about 100 Jefferson residents.
In it, Mr. Singletary refutes Mr. Cherry's charges about the Health Department and Cobleskill water lines.
"This questionable, boastful letter laden with false and misleading statements is a disservice and an insult to the people of Jefferson," Mr. Singletary wrote.
As for Mr. Cherry sending any letter, Mr. Singletary said it "provides ample proof that he will use every dirty trick in the book to silence me and the other Republican Supervisors that believe Schoharie County must focus on providing essential service. . ."
Instead of inserting himself in local politics, Mr. Cherry's "only role is to guard the taxpayer's money," Mr. Singletary said in an interview Saturday, a day after the caucus.
Mr. Cherry's goal is to remove supervisors who disagree with him, Mr. Singletary added.
"He's working overtly," Mr. Singletary said. "He wants friendly supervisors in place so he can direct them the way he wants."
Mr. Cherry denied the charge, saying that he was looking for a new Jefferson supervisor because Mr. Singletary "coerced and led public policy usually in a destructive way."
As for Mr. Jordan, he believed he'd have won the caucus even without Mr. Cherry's letter. A door-to-door and phone campaign was effective, Mr. Jordan said.
But Mr. Jordan did add that the letter--he called it an "open and honest letter"--helped get a crowd to the caucus.
"I think it created some good reaction and some bad reaction," Mr. Jordan said. "And in the end, it did get the vote out."
Mr. Singletary will be on the November ballot on the Conservative and Independent lines, but he believed those give him little chance to win.