By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — The town’s Republican committee is no longer supporting the candidacy of village trustee candidate Caitlin Appleby, who drew nominations from both major parties at their January caucuses.
A billboard posted on Route 9W and social media posts voice GOP support for mayoral candidate Dominic Ruggeri and trustee candidate Barbara Tanner, but left out trustee candidate Caitlin Appleby, who was nominated by the party at its caucus Jan. 24.
Appleby, a registered Republican, garnered 21 votes from GOP voters at the caucus. Tanner received 27, and Democrat Linda Muller received 9.
Town of Coeymans Republican Committee Chairman Joel Coye acknowledged that Appleby was nominated by the caucus but said her attendance at the caucus was unanticipated.
“She [Appleby] seized an opportunity on a vacant spot for the village trustee because we did not have another candidate to run,” Coye said. “She had shown up at the caucus unbeknownst to us to get the line. She had not expressed any prior interest in the line until that night.”
Under New York state law, any individual registered within a political party may nominate a candidate at that party’s caucus. Appleby was nominated by Republican Mayor Bill Misuraca, who lost the GOP nomination to Ruggeri the same night.
There are two open spots on the village board in the March elections and a three-way trustee race between Appleby — who was also nominated by the Democratic Party the following day — Republican Barbara Tanner and Democrat Linda Muller.
After the January caucus, Appleby posed for photos with the other Republican candidates, but said she has not heard anything from the committee since that day.
“I have not received an email, a response online, a phone call, nothing,” Appleby said. “It has been radio silent on this end. And I have attempted to reach out several times, so I don’t understand what is going on, quite honestly.”
“I haven’t heard a single thing from any of them since Monday, Jan. 24, the day of the caucus,” she added.
Though the Republican Committee is no longer supporting Appleby’s candidacy, her name will appear on the ballot March 15 on both the Republican and Democratic party lines. Coye said the GOP will focus on getting its other two candidates elected.
“The two candidates that we were focusing on were Dominic Ruggeri and Barbara Tanner. They were the ones that we were going with and unfortunately she [Appleby] has not agreed with our party lines and has been openly campaigning for the other side,” Coye said. “Unfortunately, we don’t agree with their policies, so therefore we are just focusing on Dominic [Ruggeri] and Barbara [Tanner]. We wish her [Appleby] the best of luck and hope she will continue to do well with what she does, but we are focusing on the two that do align with our party’s philosophies.”
Appleby asked how Coye could question her political stance on policy when he hasn’t spoken with her about it.
“I don’t understand how he can even say that when he hasn’t even talked to me about my policy beliefs,” Appleby said. “How can you say that when you have never even spoken to me? That kind of upsets me because how can you exclude somebody when you haven’t even heard their side?”
According to Coye, Appleby’s campaigning with the Democrats brought her philosophy into question.
“Being that she has aligned herself with the current team of the Democratic Party right now and we believe in fiscal conservatism — we believe that lower taxes would be better for village residents,” Coye said.
Appleby agreed taxes “absolutely have to be under control,” and said she has campaigned with the Democrats because they supported her candidacy from the start.
“They reached out to me the day after the caucus asking what I needed in terms of support and campaigning,” Appleby said. “The Democratic Committee has been nothing but helpful — they have been willing to help me with everything I need because they know I am new at this. Bill Misuraca and Linda Muller have both reached out to me. Had the Republicans done that, things would be looking very differently. I am just sad because I really wanted to build a bridge between the two sides and work together with everybody, and that opportunity was taken from me. I am going to put my focus and effort where I feel it is valued.”
Other candidates in previous elections have been cross endorsed by both parties and received support, Appleby said.
“My whole thing is I want to work with everybody,” she said. “I’m not a politician — I’m a social worker. My intention is to social work the community and that includes working with everybody. This is disheartening to me because this is not how I function. If I had some answers, I think I would be a little bit more at ease with what is going on, but the fact that nobody has reached out is upsetting.”
Coye reiterated that Appleby’s campaigning with the Democrat-endorsed candidates led the party to withdraw its support.
“We wish her the best of luck, but by actively supporting and carrying campaign materials of the other side, we feel that we have to go in our own direction,” Coye said.
Village elections will be held March 15.
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
NEW BALTIMORE — After two years of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last weekend’s AgFest was so popular, parking spaces in the huge field next to the festival grounds were hard to find.
AgFest, the New Baltimore Antique Machinery & Agricultural Festival, is held one weekend every June at the Van Etten farm on Sawmill Road.
“We have been doing this for 31 years,” said William Burns, president of the AgFest Committee, which organizes the event every year. “My father started it at his house on Route 9W and then we held it at both places — on 9W and here at the Van Etten farm, and we had a bus that went back and forth. Now, it’s just here at the farm.”
It’s difficult to estimate how many people attended this year’s event because there is no admission fee and people just come and go, Burns said.
In addition to exhibits of antique farm equipment, there was music, a silent auction, tractor-pull competitions, a community dinner in the evening, and vendors of all kinds — including one raising funds for the Class of 2024 at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School.
If you gazed skyward, there was also a demonstration of remote-control airplanes that swooped and zipped across the sky.
AgFest offers something for everyone, Burns said.
“This is something we started years and years ago and it just gets bigger every year,” he said. “I think it is good for New Baltimore — there are a lot of people here. There are not really many places where you can go for free anymore, and everything here is free.”
Shelly Van Etten, who co-owns the farm with her husband, said AgFest is an enjoyable event the entire community can take part in.
“We enjoy it and we feel like the community enjoys it, too,” Van Etten said. “It’s a nice activity for everyone to come to and it shows how things were done on farms years ago. I think the kids really enjoy it.”
Antique farm equipment was on display and several exhibitors demonstrated how the machinery works.
Thomas Curtis, of Pompey, near Syracuse, showed how a 1922 50-horsepower Case steam traction engine works, operating a thresher that turns straw into grain.
“It separates the grain from the straw — that’s how they used to do it in the early 1900s,” Curtis explained. “My grandfather bought it and now I travel around to the shows — this is the first show I have been to this year. When I was small, my grandfather used to take me to the shows and I really liked it, so I have been coming to these shows pretty much all my life.”
Another popular activity at AgFest is the tractor-pull competition, where drivers test their lawn and garden tractors to see how far they can pull a transfer sled that is hooked up to the rear of the tractor.
“We go by horsepower and by weight,” said Rex Scanlon, who built the transfer sled. “The box on the transfer sled automatically comes up the further it goes and the more weight it puts down. There is 2,000 pounds — as you drive, it automatically goes up the rails and the closer it gets to the tractor, the heavier it gets.”
Scanlon lives near Utica, but has traveled to AgFest for 29 of the 31 years the festival has been taking place.
New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso said the town offers support for AgFest in the form of paying for the insurance and putting up road signs directing traffic to the event, but the great majority of the work is done by the Van Etten family and the AgFest Committee.
AgFest was canceled the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ruso said he was glad to see it back in 2022.
“I have never seen this many cars in this parking lot before. I am really glad it is back up and running,” Ruso said. “It really is the biggest event we have in the town of New Baltimore every year. It gets people out and about.”