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Government & Politics
Irvington News

Irvington Democrats Nominate Two Newcomers

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February 28, 2024

This story has been updated

By Barrett Seaman—

Well over 200 residents of Irvington, 175 of them registered Democrats, braved a rainy night to show up at the Main Street School auditorium on February 27 to choose two candidates out of three contenders to fill vacancies on the village board in next November’s election.

Given that there is no longer a discernible formal Republican Party in Irvington, their nomination all but assures their election. The vacancies were created by the retirement of trustee Larry Lonky and the completion of a two-year term by first-time trustee Larry Ogrodnek.

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At the end of a by-the-book, Roberts Rules of Order process, two political novices, social worker Josie Bloom and public school administrator Kent Kleiman were selected—Bloom with 65% of the votes cast, Kleiman with 61%–leaving Ogrodnek out of the running with 48%.

Though 175 voters registered at the event, only 165 completed the voting process. Those that departed prematurely might have been discouraged by the formal process that included speeches by nominators, seconders and the candidates themselves. The vote was conducted by hand and tabulated by former village officials led by county legislator and former village Democratic chair David Imamura.

In his opening remarks, party chair Chris DeNicola noted that it had been more than 20 yeas since a contested convention had taken place in Irvington. When asked, however, several veterans of village politics could not remember when that gathering might have occurred.

All three of the candidates have lived in the village for five years or less but represent an electorate that is demonstrably younger and more progressive than the profile of Irvington of earlier generations. In the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Republicans, albeit moderate “Rockefeller Republicans,” were in the majority both in the village at large and on the board of trustees.

That cultural and political change was reflected in the issues touted by the candidates, who revealed few if any substantive policy differences. Top vote-getter Bloom cited the Green Policy Task Force, sustainability, curbside food scrap collection, climate action planning, protecting the Irvington Woods, support of the arts, a dog park, and affordable housing, without which, she said, “our commitment to diversity equity and inclusion is just words.”

Kent Kleiman spoke in favor of citizen engagement and government transparency—and against the practice of property condemnation, which had been a small piece in last fall’s ill-fated $18.7 million bond issue to fund a new firehouse and village administration offices. He expressed “a vision of a community that is affordable, safe and welcoming.”

Ogrodnek, who otherwise shared many of the positions espoused by his rivals, most likely suffered from his association with some of the highly unpopular elements embedded in the bond issue—regardless of whether he personally supported them. He was nominated and seconded respectively by former mayor Brian Smith and current mayor Jon Siegel. His stated issues of budget scrutiny and streamlining of the village building approval process may not have had the same emotional appeal as the more progressive aspirations championed by his opponents.

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