Back in July, when Richard Anderson lost the Democratic nomination for Hyde Park town clerk, his candidacy appeared dead on arrival. Anderson thought otherwise: By the end of August, he had collected enough signatures to run as an independent. The former Dutchess County Clerk named his ticket the Whistle Stop line, in reference to his support for bringing back service to the town’s train station. Hyde Park voters will decide on Nov. 3 whether to hop on Anderson’s caboose. In the spirit of such pluck and ingenuity, we thought we’d examine four of the more interesting (and entertaining) ballot lines in the annals of Valley electoral history.
Energy Security Now!: The 2008 Congressional candidate Kieran Michael Lalor, a Republican nominee, wanted to underline his support for domestic energy sources by adding this emphatic title to the ballot. (Its emblem? A gas pump.) John Hall, Lalor’s opponent in the race, challenged the legitimacy of the line in court. Rather than waste money on lawyer fees, Lalor decided to drop the moniker — striking a blow to “Drill, baby, drill!” advocates (and exclamation-point proponents) across the region.
Clean Sweep: In 2007, eight Democratic candidates in the town of Wawarsing and village of Ellenville adopted the Clean Sweep line in the hope that, by luck or subliminal messaging, it would propel them all to victory. Only five of them were elected. The ticket was subsequently dropped.
Beacon First: In 1998, Beacon resident Jack Dexter decided to run for the county legislature seat he had held in the 1960s and 1970s, but “personality conflicts” prevented him from securing his previous Democratic nomination. So Dexter created the Beacon First line, “because that’s the way I was going to vote in the Legislature,” he says. Heading a one-man party did have its pitfalls, Dexter admits: “You end up paying all of your own bills, and the only contributions are from friends.” The ordinal number in the title must have lodged itself into voters’ minds, however, as Dexter finished number one at the polls by eight votes.
Bulldog: The late John Cesar, who served as mayor of Brewster from 1987 to 1989 and again from 1997 to 2005, did a lot of things differently, so it’s no surprise he sought and won office as an independent. The reason behind his choice of party name seems to be a bit of a mystery, though: “I don’t know why he chose a bulldog,” admits Anthony Scannapieco, a Putnam County Board of Elections commissioner. It could be that Cesar — a mayor who once served in office while homeless; a candidate who raised funds by collecting cans and bottles; and a man who, at various points, was a bar owner, circus clown, and self-described hobo — admired the bulldog’s tenacity, a trait he himself amply demonstrated throughout his life and political career.