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Johnstown man tapped for elections job

January 6, 2009
By MICHAEL ANICH/The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Town of Johnstown Democratic Party official John Schermerhorn has been nominated to become the Fulton County Board of Elections' new Democratic election commissioner.

The appointment of Schermerhorn, 40, of Route 67 to a two-year term won't be official until approved by the county Board of Supervisors.

County Administrative Officer Jon R. Stead said Thursday he expects a new county Democratic election commissioner to be appointed at the board's first regular meeting of the year at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

John Schermerhorn, who has been nominated for the job of Fulton County Democratic elections commissioner, is shown Monday at the Board of Elections office in Johnstown.

The county has two part-time elections commissioners - one Democrat and one Republican - who each earn $12,323 annually and work 17.5 hours per week. Longtime Republican Commissioner Dexter Risedorph was re-appointed Thursday by supervisors to a new two-year term.

County election commissioners oversee the running of the election office's full-time staff on Route 29 and work with the state Board of Elections. The commissioners also meet with the Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee as needed and make final rulings on the validity of election petitions and primary and general election results.

The Fulton County Board of Elections is responsible for overseeing primary and general elections, financial filings, voter addresses, official canvassing of elections, processing petitions, training of election inspectors, maintenance of voting machines and maintaining election districts. The board office was inspected by the state Comptroller's Office in September as part of a review of such offices across New York state.

Schermerhorn recently was nominated for the commissioner's post by the Fulton County Democratic Committee.

He is expected to replace Linda Coons, who has served as interim Democratic elections commissioner since longtime former Democratic Commissioner Marilyn Cornell retired from that post last year. Coons remains in her full-time position at the Board of Elections as Democratic deputy election commissioner.

County Democratic Chairman Albert Hayes said Friday that Schermerhorn has headed the party's town of Johnstown efforts for some time.

"He's been involved for many years as chairman of the town of Johnstown Democratic [panel]," Hayes said.

Hayes said six candidates interested in the Democratic election commissioner post emerged, but the county committee eventually chose Schermerhorn.

"It was a hard choice," Hayes said.

Schermerhorn works as a financial adviser for McGinn, Smith & Co. of Clifton Park.

"Politics has always interested me," he said Monday, while getting his office ready at the Board of Elections.

He said he's aware that the Board of Elections will be busy this year: There will be many local elections in 2009, and the board needs to educate the public about the county's new electronic voting machines.

There are 82 offices up for election in Fulton County this year. Five will be decided in March in the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield. The other 77 offices will be filled in the September primaries and the November general election.

Schermerhorn said the board hasn't decided yet how it will educate Fulton County's voters on the new machines.

"There's a couple ideas," he said, but the county may make an announcement at some point.

Fulton County last year purchased 30 modern electronic voting machines at a cost of nearly $360,000 to help satisfy New York state's requirement to meet the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002.

The machines were available for voting in the November presidential election, but they went unused in favor of the older paper-ballot machines.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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