The Board of Elections is at an impasse on the creation of a ballot for Legislative District 16 and there is a chance that there will be no election in that District which includes all the Town of Gardiner and two election districts in the Town of Shawangunk. If that happens, there will be no Supervisor, Town Clerk, et al elected in Gardiner nor will there be a County Legislator from District 16 leaving that position to an appointment by the new County Legislature. Legislator Tracy Bartels is putting a lot at risk in this scenario.

Kathy Miller, Fire Chief of the Shawangunk Valley Fire Company, an EMT, a Veteran, wife of a retired Army Master Sergeant, mother of two adult children who are both serving in the U.S. Military and an independent contractor rural carrier for the United States Postal Service was recruited and agreed to run for Ulster County Legislator, District 16.

In good faith, Mrs. Miller went into this venture thinking that the Hatch Act did not apply to her as she is not an “employee” of the Postal Service but is an independent contractor rural carrier (see USPS website quoted herein below). Petitions were circulated on her behalf, she actively campaigned for the position and she was successful in a primary for the Independence party line. During this time, the Postmaster at the Wallkill Post Office was aware of her activity and advised her just to not do anything political while performing her duties.

After the results of the Independence Primary were known, as County Republican Chairman, I heard of a concern that she could not run due to the Hatch Act. Mrs. Miller contacted the postmaster of the Post Office in Wallkill and asked that he get a legal opinion on her status as it relates to the Hatch Act. The postmaster on September 19th emailed the USPS legal department who then referred the inquiry to their Ethics Division. On September 26th, Mrs. Miller was forwarded an email (copy attached) advising her that the Hatch Act does apply to her.

At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, September 28th, paperwork was filed with the Board of Elections and Mrs. Miller submitted her declination for the four party lines she was on; Republican, Independence, Conservative and People for Gardiner and withdrew from the race. After her withdrawal, the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties submitted forms to substitute a different candidate who is her husband James Miller.

To this date, Mrs. Miller nor the political parties that submitted substitutions have been notified of any problems or concerns regarding Mrs. Miller’s declination and Mr. Miller’s substitution.

On Saturday, September 30, I received a phone call from Democrat Chairman Frank Cardinale in which he advised me that the Republican Party should not go to court to get Mr. Miller on the line as a substitution. Mr. Cardinale went on to say that it would come out in court that Mrs. Miller had violated that Hatch Act and her job would be at risk. In my conversation with Cardinale, I stated my only interest is to substitute a candidate and let the people of Gardiner and Shawangunk decide the election instead of having Legislator Bartels and the Democratic Party disenfranchise the voters by blocking someone from running.

Kathy Miller is an outstanding public servant and her reputation is beyond reproach. She is completing her 4th and final year as Chief of the Shawangunk Valley Fire Company and her only desire was to continue working for the good people of her community. It is beyond belief that Legislator Bartels and the Democratic Party would be willing to put her employment at risk for the sake of not having a candidate against Bartels in the 16th District. While I have always maintained that I would always try to maintain a degree of civility in the political arena, it is difficult to comprehend that the discourse taking place at the national and congressional levels would trickle down to our County races. To think that Legislator Tracy Bartels and the Democratic Party are willing to go after Kathy Miller’s livelihood is indicative of just how low they are willing to go in politics to win an election.

I am calling on the Democratic Party and Legislator Bartels to accept the declination of Mrs. Miller due to the conflict caused by the Hatch Act and to  allow the substitution of Jim Miller so that this election will be decided by the people of the Towns of Gardiner and Shawangunk and not in a lawyered up Democratic headquarters.

Roger Rascoe, Chairman


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