Villanova Seeks Scuccimarra’s Legislature Seat; Denbaum Joins Race Against Odell

Challengers could force Republican primaries

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Criticizing Putnam County’s current Republican leadership, GOP dissidents recently launched campaigns to oust County Executive MaryEllen Odell, their party’s flagbearer, and District 1 Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown.

Barbara Scuccimarra
(Photo provided)

On Monday (May 7), Patty Villanova, a paralegal, Putnam Valley resident and Cold Spring shopkeeper, announced her candidacy for Scuccimarra’s seat.

Three weeks ago, Paul Denbaum, a lawyer and member of the Kent Town Board, declared his candidacy for county executive. He became the second Kent official in the race. Kent Supervisor Maureen Fleming, a Democrat, announced her campaign on March 9.

The primary election, if necessary, would take place Sept. 13.

Scuccimarra on Tuesday (May 8) gave mixed signals about her plans. She said mid-day that while close to a decision, “I’m not yet” sure whether to run again. “Let me think about this and I’ll get back to you.” But before the day ended, her Facebook page displayed a notice of a campaign-launch fundraising cocktail party on June 6.

On Friday, after The Current print edition went to press, Scuccimarra responded to requests sent Wednesday seeking clarification of her plans. She apologized, saying she had experienced “an insane week,” and confirmed that June 6 as her “kick-off date.”

District 1 covers Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley. Like Scuccimarra and Odell, the other eight legislators are Republicans (along with the county clerk and county district attorney.)

Patty Villanova (file photo)

Villanova, in a news release and interview, blasted the county’s Republican “establishment,” which she said includes Scuccimarra, charging that it has shirked responsibility for economic development and infrastructure support.

“The Putnam County government is broken and has been for quite a while,” she said, accusing the incumbent of holding “a no-show job where she collects a paycheck while pretending she’s serving the needs of taxpayers. She’s not doing her job. We’re not getting anything” to assist with tourism, Main Street revitalization, or other needs, Villanova said.

“I will do whatever it takes to get us the services and financial support we are entitled to receive,” she said. “The legislators forget that this is our money they are dealing with.”

Scuccimarra declined comment. “I don’t want to compete with Patty Villanova in the newspapers right now,” she said in her mid-day conversation with The Current.

Villanova foresees opposition to her candidacy as a Republican and said she is exploring options for running as a Democrat, a Conservative, or an independent. She said that while she’s a lifelong Republican, she has “trashed the Republicans more than anybody.” She added that supporters of all affiliations, including Democrats and Conservatives, and some “pretty high up” in party hierarchies, urged her to run. Public service “is not about what letter you have after your name,” she said.

In taking on Odell, Denbaum cited his efforts on the Kent Town Board to fight tax increases and craft budgets that avoid them. (Fleming, his fellow Kent Town Board member and county executive candidate, claimed the same thing in announcing her campaign.)

Paul Denbaum (photo provided)

As another accomplishment, Denbaum mentioned promoting term limits, “ensuring that Kent will be a run by a citizen government, not by career politicians.” He slammed Putnam County’s administration for what he termed “pet projects” that “divert important county resources from our roads and infrastructure at the expense of our tax bills.” He added that “until we have a county executive who will think big and share a vision for our future, we will never realize our true potential.”

Denbaum drew attention beyond Kent last year for sponsoring a resolution, approved 4-1, declaring the town would assist federal immigration officers and share the immigration status of anyone, if asked. Fleming cast the sole “no” vote.

At one point, Denbaum described the legislation as necessary because a “recent action of a neighboring municipality [Philipstown] encouraging the safe harbor of illegal aliens who have committed crimes puts the safety of the residents of Kent in jeopardy.” A month earlier the Philipstown Town Board had adopted an “equal protection” measure calling for fair treatment of all residents, regardless of immigration status.

MaryEllen Odell

Odell’s campaign could not be reached for reaction to Denbaum’s statements.

The day Denbaum announced his candidacy, Odell toured the site of the senior center at the Butterfield site in Cold Spring for a photo opportunity with labor union representatives who endorsed her re-election bid.

County candidates affiliated with a party can begin collecting signatures on nominating petitions on June 5. Independent candidates can begin July 10. A Republican candidate for county executive needs to collect at least 1,103 signatures from registered Republican voters and a Republican candidate for the District 1 seat must collect 101, according to the county Board of Elections.

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2 Responses to "Villanova Seeks Scuccimarra’s Legislature Seat; Denbaum Joins Race Against Odell"

  1. Patty Villanova   May 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks to the Current for all the election coverage and I’m glad to see that there are others who will be coming out to challenge the Putnam establishment.

    As with national politics, it often seems like there is one uni-party composed of Democrats and Republicans that actually controls things. This is one of the reasons why incumbents rarely lose. On top of that, there’s a great deal of apathy these days as many people seem to have given up on local government. This is exactly what the politicians count on!

    District 1 has its own unique problems that are not being addressed by the Legislature. Notably the Village of Cold Spring is not being served in return for all the sales tax money that our businesses raise and that end up in the county coffers. Of course, Legislator Scuccimarra doesn’t want to talk about the problems — she helped create them. And if you won’t even acknowledge that there are problems, then how can we hope to solve them?

    If anything, the tornadoes we experienced this past week and the complete failure of the county and NYSEG to respond to the damage in a timely fashion, are all the evidence you need to prove the point that our County officials are asleep at the wheel.

    Villanova is a candidate for the District 1 seat.

  2. Ann Fanizzi   May 19, 2018 at 10:01 am

    The re-election of the panderer-in-chief at 40 Gleneida will be a huge detriment to Putnam County. The recent article in the Mahopac News offers the electorate another look into the latest fiasco that has occurred under the reign of the panderer-in-chief who has staked her office on clearing the way for Paul Camarda to develop his projects both at Patterson Crossing in Kent and now at the border of Westchester/Putnam attempting to move a sewer project that required a private company at Somers Heritage Hills to hook up to as yet unapproved extension of sewer lines from Route 6 to the border that needed DEP approval.

    Instead of tripping over each other as to who is the standard bearer for fiscal responsibility, attention needs to the given to the panderer-in-chief’s lack of coherent planning. But then how could she, since a thoroughly unqualified attorney was recently appointed Commissioner of Planning, contrary to the charter? There is much that candidates must and should address. Odell is vulnerable and should be held accountable for her gross misadministration of the county.