QUEENSBURY — An executive committee is now actively working to improve the Warren County Republican Committee.
As promised by embattled Chairman Mike Grasso, the committee is a large group made up of all of the county’s Republican town supervisors and town ward chairs.
“This really pulls them more into the decision-making or recommendation process of the party,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, first vice chairman. Grasso is officially the chairman of the committee.
Conover is hoping the supervisors will bring something more to the party.
“Anytime you have a breadth of points of view, or maybe even an opposing point of view, I think you get to a better place,” Conover said.
The executive committee could help by improving upon ideas that are brought to it, he said.
He’s also hoping it will lead to decisions that are supported by more of the party.
“I think you develop more of a consensus as opposed to some unilateral action,” he said.
The committee was formed after several party members publicly criticized Grasso for decisions made in the Queensbury Town Board Ward 1 race last year. In that race, town and county committee leaders decided to continue running a candidate after he told them he was unwilling to serve if elected and wanted to drop out of the race. It was too late to take his name off the ballot, but it was five months before the general election.
Officials urged committee members to campaign for the unwilling candidate, Hal Bain, and responded to press questions by acting as though they were unaware he had told them he would not serve. They told Bain he could resign after winning, because they could then pick the person they preferred to have in the seat, rather than his opposing candidate, whom they wanted to defeat.
Opposing candidate Tony Metivier won the race, and after news got out about Bain’s unwillingness to serve, Democrats were swept into office in Queensbury and won a majority there for the first time in history.
Some executive committee members want big changes in the party now.
They want to at least temper the win-at-all-costs mentality and improve the party’s ethics policy. They want the party to be honest about whether candidates will serve if elected, and they want the party to stop supporting politicians who are clearly in the wrong.
Doug Irish’s decision to stay on the Queensbury Town Board for months after he moved out of state has been cited by committee members. They were incensed when Grasso not only supported Irish’s decision, but also reappointed him to serve on the committee after he resigned.
Some of those members have said they’re ready to walk out if they can’t implement significant reform.
“I need to gauge whether the party is going to go in the direction I want it to go,” said Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, who is on the executive committee. “If not, I’ll probably leave the party.”
Conover acknowledged the reformers have important concerns.
“I think there are leaders within the party that have expressed some concerns,” he said. “I think any organization needs to be responsive of that. That’s what this executive committee is all about.”
He welcomed the executive committee.
“In any organizational structure, a group like this is a healthy thing,” he said, adding that the party used to have an executive committee.
“I think it was a very good organizational tool. It became a sounding board,” Conover said.