My first election: Horton and Cuomo. And some 2018 endorsements.

My first election: Horton and Cuomo. And some 2018 endorsements.
Horton Thu, Aug 30, 1990 new.jpg-page0001

(l) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1982; (r) Frank Horton in 1987 at the Rochester Public Market, 30 Aug 1990, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

I cast my first ballot in 1982. In 1980, I was too young to vote but closely followed the Reagan-Carter election and worked briefly for the presidential campaign of John Anderson, Independence Party. On Election Night, I worked at the Brighton Memorial Library and incoming patrons would periodically tell me how the state tallies were progressing.


From Carol Kramer’s collection

see October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner

Actually, my first vote was in 1972. During the Nixon-McGovern election, the Brighton Elementary School held a mock election in which, unexpectedly — like only Massachusetts in reality — McGovern won.

In 1982, I was away at college but voted by mail in the now-gone 29th District.  For the House of Representatives, I voted for ten-term Republican Frank Horton, considered a Rockefeller Republican. I voted again for Horton in ’84, ’86, ’88, ’90 and ’92.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1982

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1982

I was one of 84, 871 choosing Horton, known as “the least partisan of Representatives.”

In our polarized, partisan environment, my votes remind me when western New York was a bastion of moderate Republicanism. In 1982, Barber Conable, a moderate Republican who represented parts of Rochester, won his final term after serving in the House of Representatives since 1965. Known on both sides of the aisle for his honesty and integrity, Conable broke with long-time ally Richard Nixon in disgust after the revelations of the Watergate scandal.

Today, western New York moderate Republicans are scarce. Look no further than Chris Collins. This election I will be voting for only one Republican, Joe Robach for State Senate.

As a lifetime registered Democrat, I have not voted for many Republicans (no doubt I missed out on some fine candidates).  After Amo Houghton was one of six Republicans who voted in October 2002 against the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq, he won my support that November in the 29th Congressional District.  After Houghton won the election, in the run up to Gulf War II, he called for extending the search for weapons of mass destruction, drawing the ire of Mark Assini:

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 13 Nov 2003

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 13 Nov 2003.  Assini would run against Louise Slaughter in the 25th District (mine) in 2014 and 2016.

Houghton was right; Assini was wrong.

When I lived in Rhode Island for many years, I voted for Republican Lincoln Chafee for Senator and Governor (partially because we were fellow alums from Brown University and because in a tiny state like Rhode Island it’s easy to meet your representatives and I liked him).

Lincoln Chafee in MSU Horseshoeing School 1976

Lincoln Chaffee (bottom row, far right). After Brown, in 1976 Chaffee attended Montana State University’s non-degree Farrier School (a sixteen-week horseshoeing program) in Bozeman. For the next seven years, he worked as a farrier at harness racetracks in the United States and Canada.

Chaffee later became an Independent and then a Democrat. Opposed to the Iraq War, Chaffee did not vote for George W. Bush in 2004. Instead, he wrote in W’s father, George H.W. Bush.  In 2016, Chafee became a Democratic presidential candidate, participating in the early debates.

In 2016, I returned Chaffee’s 2004 favor. As the New York State Democratic primary approached, half my friends encouraged me to vote for Clinton and half my friends encouraged me to vote for Sanders.  Instead, although he had dropped out by then, I wrote in for Chaffee. The poll monitors at Brookside Elementary School weren’t sure what to do.  I was the only voter who wanted to write-in a candidate. We figured it out and I cast my ballot.

1. me-new

With my ballot and its write-in vote for Lincoln Chaffee. From Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton

In 2004, I voted for Republican Randy Kuhl to succeed retiring Amo Houghton.  Although Kuhl is a conservative, his opponent Samara Barend turned me off when her campaign released confidential court records from Kuhl’s divorce. Although the campaign apologized, the damage was done.  Barend’s detractors said she learned her tactics when working for Hillary Clinton’s first US Senate campaign.

My gut instinct to choose Kuhl was justified. In 2004, I was teaching a course at RIT in which we studied the Constitution. I contacted Kuhl’s office inquiring about getting Constitutions for the classes.  Kuhl personally drove up a batch kept in his Southern Tier office and left them for me in his Rochester office.


108th Congress, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Document No. 108-95. The CONSTUTITION of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, As Amended, Unratified Amendments, Analytical Index, PRESENTED BY MR. NEY, June 20, 2003 , Ordered to be Printed

In 1982, I also voted for Lt. Governor Mario Cuomo in his successful bid to become Governor.

03 Nov 1982, Wed • SUNRISE • Page 1

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1982

I voted for Cuomo because he spoke at my high school graduation.

David Kramer, Brighton High School, Commencement, June 21, 1981 [Empire Photography]

David Kramer, Brighton High School, Commencement, June 21, 1981 [Empire Photography] See Filmic evidence shows I “froze” at the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game and other Brighton memories

In November, I am not voting for Cuomo’s son, Andrew. Instead, I am choosing the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins and his running mate, Jia Lee. I want the Greens to reach at least the 50,000 threshold of votes allowing the party to stay on the ballot for 4 years as well as move up in ballot placement. Also, I was impressed by Hawkins in an October 19th, 2018 New York Times article (although it’s headline feels like a sleight), 0-for-23: An Undeterred Green Party Candidate on His Long Losing Streak


Alex White, former Green Party candidate for Mayor and City Council in his store, Boldos Armory on Monroe Avenue

In November, I am also voting for Republican (once a Democrat) Joe Robach for NY State Senate. Over the years, I have been impressed with Joe’s ubiquity, outstanding constituent services and for bringing home the pork to Brighton.

In the Congressional race, we are endorsing Joe Morelle (D). As seen in Politics at the Labor Day Parade, I like Morelle’s opponent Jim Maxwell — who can be considered a moderate Republican — and admire his life work. But I find him sketchy on some important issues  important to me and feel he might not be steeped enough in policy expertise.

4. Labor Day-page0001

Labor Day, 2018. (l) With Jim Mazwell, (r) Joe Morelle. From Politics at the Labor Day Parade

In his debate Thursday with Morelle, Maxwell was still somewhat vague and edging on contradictory on some key points.  The first question was about how the candidates viewed capitalism, based upon polls showing young people are increasingly disenchanted with capitalism and turning to socialism.  Maxwell sees socialism as a positive when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but then said he is against the expansion of such programs in the form of a single payer option system.  Maxwell also said he understood the concern about the massive wealth disparities capitalism produces, but still concluded that capitalism is “the appropriate way to distribute wealth.”

As for my other endorsements (see ballot) below, I am avoiding voting for the Republican Party.  I am taking the lead of arch conservative and lifelong Republican Max Boot. In his recent book, The Corrosion of Conservatism (2018), Boot calls Trump “crudely xenophobic” and one who exploits the dangerous sides of “white identity politics.”

Don Pollard New York Times-page0001

Max Boot [Photo: Don Pollard]

Boot is eager for the day when:

The G.O.P. as currently constituted is burned to the ground.

Furthermore, Boot encourages Americans to:

Vote against all Republicans

see also “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin” — Max Boot, 2016; “I foresee very lively election campaigns” — Josef Stalin, 1936

Following Boot’s instruction, I am eschewing the GOP. As seen in my suggested ballot, I will be voting for Robach on the Independence Party line which is also running lines for Cuomo (D, WF, WE), Gillibrand (D, WF, WE), James (D, WF, Reform), Morelle (D, WF, WE) and Romeo (D, WF, WE).

Although Romeo is running unopposed, I did see one sign for her on Vernon Place in Brighton.

Although Romeo is running unopposed, I did see one sign supporting her on Vernon Place in Brighton.

In a race in which I have skin (based on pension contributions from the RCSD), for Comptroller I am voting for Thomas DiNapoli (D) over Jonathon Trichter (R, C), a registered Democrat running on the Republican line.


On the front door of Boldos Armory

On October 18th, in Comptroller race pits incumbent DiNapoli against three challengers , WXXI’s Karen DeWitt interviewed DiNapoli, Trichter, Mark Dunlea (Green) and Cruger Gallaudet (Libertarian).  I was intrigued that Dunlea wants the comptroller to divest the state from all investments in fossil fuel companies. DiNapoli countered that he can do more to change the behavior of fossil fuel companies by remaining a major investor. Trichter dodged the issue saying he would “depoliticize” the fund and not use it for social or political purposes. I prefer my money invested in socially conscious ways even if it might — but not necessarily so — mean a slightly lower return.

As for the other candidates, I oscillate between the Democrat and Working Families lines. The WFP has endorsed all Democrats except Vicki Argento who is on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Lines. For national office, I chose (D) because I want national results to favor (D) over (R) — as instructed by Max Boot.

2018 25th Congressional District ballot

2018 25th Congressional District ballot

The signs for Christopher Ciaccio , Fatimat Reid and Zuleika Shepard are on the front lawn of Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle. Patricia Gallagher's sign is on Monroe Avenue in the city. Bill also has a Morelle sign. When I was taking the pictures, a car drove past and the passenger yelled, "Vote for Maxwell!"

The signs for Christopher Ciaccio , Fatimat Reid and Zuleika Shepard are on the front lawn of Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle. Patricia Gallagher’s sign is on Monroe Avenue in the city. Bill also has a Morelle sign. When I was taking the pictures, a car drove past and the passenger yelled, “Vote for Maxwell!”

I will vote

One of my favorite civic minded homes in Brighton. Behind the “I Will Vote” sign is a Little Free Library.


Election Day and in search of lawn signs in Brighton

Politics at the Labor Day Parade

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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