October 16, 2021

GOP keeps control of Cortlandville

Democrats lose all contests despite big push

Cortlandville Republicans succeeded in maintaining control of the town board, beating back a challenge from a full slate of Democratic candidates Tuesday.

Republican Thomas A. Williams won election as town supervisor, defeating Democratic town board member Doug Withey, 1,074 to 860 in complete but unofficial results.

For the two full-term town board positions, Republican candidates Jay E. Cobb and incumbent Theodore V. Testa, with 1,120 and 1,108 votes, respectively, defeated Democratic newcomers Robert R. Martin and Donna M. Johnson with 648 and 889 votes.

For a partial-term seat vacated by Democrat Randy Ross, Republican Jeff Guido beat Democrat Bekkie Bryan, 1,174 to 692. Guido’s term will run through the end of 2021.

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Republicans in GOP headquarters were jubilant Tuesday.

“I’m elated. I am elated that that town (Cortlandville) is going to be OK,” said Connie White, chairwoman of the Cortland County Republican Committee. “That town is important to every citizen of this county. They are the economic engine. Those folks that have had the leadership in the past, they have done things right. They have been careful, and they have been successful. And I think the voters of the town they saw that. It’s like, if it ain’t broke, why are we fixing it? And even if we’ve got different folks, different candidates – we brought in new folks that will carry on.”

Democrats were not as pleased.

“Man, did we put a lot on the field we did not overcome,” said Tim Perfetti, chairman of the Cortland County Democratic Committee. “On the up side, Doug Withey stays on the board, so we have someone to keep the rascals in check.”

Tom Williams, as the new face of the GOP in Cortlandville, said the big win Tuesday night was the result of months of preparation and hard work.

“We started out back in December,” said Williams. He said he and the other Republican candidates decided “we were going to run a clean campaign, we were going to run a campaign on issues … not words, and we were going to do it fairly.”

Guido and Cobb agreed that they put in many hours and many weekends going door to door seeking support.

“Jay (Cobb) and Ted (Testa) and I knocked on a lot of doors,” Guido said.

Williams previously served eight years as a Cortland County legislator. A retired state trooper, he also worked as a homebuilder and business owner.

Cobb, a former one-term mayor of McGraw, also served several terms on the McGraw village board. He was the only candidate of either party running from the McGraw area. Cobb has been a firefighter for 45 years, both as a chief and assistant chief.

Incumbent Testa has served on the board for 28 years and was instrumental in creating the town’s two parks, one of which is named after him.

Guido, a 26-year history teacher at Cortland Junior/Senior High School, previously served as Cortland city alderman from 2001 to 2005.

The Cortlandville town board has long been controlled by Republicans, but that grip on power seemed to weaken in 2017 when Withey was elected to the board. Democrats launched a major offensive this year, challenging every open position, hoping to capitalize on discontent following a state comptroller’s report that faulted Cortlandville for improperly using $22,600 in town funds to build a public boat launch on former town board member Greg Leach’s property.

But that effort did not work out, and all four of those candidates failed. Withey, however, is the sole Democrat who will continue on the board. Although he ran for supervisor, he did so as a sitting town board member. He will continue to serve out that term, which ends in 2021.

“I’m the better candidate, I’m not sure where the differences lie with me and Tom Williams,” said Withey, who said he might run again next time. “Two years happens real fast, so there’s a good chance I’ll run again.”

Earlier Tuesday, outside the polling place at Cortlandville town hall, Maria Haravath was voting in her first election as a U.S. citizen. An immigrant from Peru, Haravath became a citizen May 1. She and her husband, Gary, arrived at about 4 p.m. Tuesday to vote.

“I want to take part in democracy,” Haravath said. “This is a democracy, and I want it to still be a democratic country.”

Haravath said she didn’t know much about local politics, but she was motivated by the lies and division she sees at the national level. “I hope that doesn’t happen at the local level,” she said.

Gary Haravath, a Democrat, said he votes every year. This year he came out in support of his friends, such as Withey, who are Democratic candidates, and he was optimistic that Democrats could take over the town board — a hope that did not materialize.

Town justice

Republican and Conservative candidate Mary Beth Mathey defeated Independence candidate Robert J. DeMarco, 1,264 to 341, for town justice. Mathey will replace retiring Justice Francis J. Casullo, a Republican.