JOHNSTOWN - Local Democratic candidates and officials gathered Saturday at the Johnstown Moose Lodge for the Fulton County Democratic Committee's annual picnic to discuss this year's races.
Candidates and officials at the picnic included: Ed Jasewicz, chairman of the committee; Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth, who's running for the position of councilman-at-large; Gregory Young, running for Gloversville 5th Ward supervisor; John Zawadzki, running for councilman in the town of Johnstown; David Dopp and Stanley Korona Jr., who are competing for Democratic nomination for Perth highway superintendent; Schenectady County Family Court Judge Mark Powers, who is running for Supreme Court justice in the 4th Judicial District; and Brian Stratton, the former mayor of Schenectady who now runs the state Canal Corp. All of them expressed gratitude for the support they receive from each other.
Stratton said he's friends with most of this year's Democratic candidates and enjoys encouraging them in their campaigns.
Seen above at the Fulton County Democratic picnic on Saturday, from left, are Brian Stratton, John Zawadzki, Stan Korona, Mark Powers, Dave Dopp, Gregory Young and Robin Wentworth. (The Leader-Herald/Casey Croucher)
"It's an honor and a pleasure to be here," he said. "It's great to have the opportunity to support these candidates because the Fulton County Democratic Committee stood behind me in 2000 when I ran for Senate. It was my best campaign."
Stratton presented Jasewicz with a letter from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo which thanked the chairman for making Fulton County and the Democratic Party stronger. Cuomo also thanked the committee itself for all of its hard work.
Powers thanked the committee for its encouragement.
"This year things look positive," he said. "I feel encouraged, and I thank you all for your support. It's always been more difficult in these counties, running as a Democrat, but I feel good about my chances."
Most candidates said they are optimistic despite the Democratic Party's minority status in Fulton County, where Republicans have a 2-to-1 advantage in registered voters.
"I've been involved [with the Fulton County Democratic Committee] for 20 years, and I'm seeing more Democrats run for office," Jasewicz said. "You have to debate issues - there needs to be open dialogue. That's why we need more of a change. We're starting to come together, though."
Jasewicz said party affiliation doesn't matter as much as showing concern and being active.
"If you really feel strongly about your politics, then you'll do something," he said. "You'll fight a hard battle to have a voice in the matter."
Wentworth agreed, saying she wants people to be informed voters.
"I'd like to see people be informed and actually know the candidates so that they can be informed voters," she said.
Korona said local citizens need to get more involved.
"It's tough in Fulton County because people aren't involved in politics in general," he said. "We need to get the county more involved. There needs to be more clubs; people need to be informed."
Michael Julius, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Johnstown, could not attend Saturday's picnic because of a prior engagement, party officials said.
Casey Croucher can be reached by email at email@example.com.