‘Groovy’ Candidate Enters New Paltz Race

Jason West, the Green Party mayor of New Paltz, has some unusual re-election competition. From the Times Herald-Record...

The race for mayor is on, and, so far, the only person running against incumbent Jason West has never run for public office and is the sole member of the Groovy Party.

If that sounds a bit over the top, even by New Paltz standards, know this: Groovy Party mayoral candidate Jonathan Cohen is the owner of The Groovy Blueberry clothing shop on Main Street.

Cohen is not the candidate the village’s Old Guard has been actively looking for to unseat West, a Green Party member who won national attention by marrying same-sex couples in the village in 2004. Failing an upset, Cohen says he hopes to be a spoiler whose candidacy could help West get re-elected in a three- or four-way race.

Four years ago, West was elected mayor after two better-known candidates split the vote. He was a dark horse then and a front-runner now. Cohen is an even darker dark horse than West was.

Cohen calls himself a “people person” who’s intent on making the village a friendlier place to live and do business in. He’s particularly unhappy with what he calls the Planning Board’s “unbridled arrogance.”

When asked why he didn’t apply for a seat on the Planning Board, he complained that no one at Village Hall could tell him where or how to apply. That, he said, was an example of the lack of neighborliness he sees as plaguing village government.

Under a Cohen administration, things would be friendlier, he said.

“Government by the Golden Rule — that’s what I stand for,” he said.

He said he’s more experienced than West in a number of realms — as a businessman, a husband and father and a homeowner.

He said the Groovy Party will not be running candidates for the two open seats on the Village Board. Cohen said he was “totally OK” with the two candidates who are running with West: Green Party candidate Shari Osborn and Richard Steffens. Steffens is not enrolled in a political party, but has run for local political office as both a Republican and Democrat in the past.

West would be preferable to whomever the village’s Old Guard finally settles on, Cohen said.

West said yesterday that he had no role in Cohen’s candidacy and was surprised to hear that Cohen hopes to play the role of spoiler.

The village election will be held in early May. The mayor’s job pays $25,000 a year.

3 Responses to “‘Groovy’ Candidate Enters New Paltz Race”

  1. Truth Guardian Says:

    Groovy blog entry, TPW!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  2. William Potter Says:

    Go “Groovy Party”!
    At last a political group which makes Jefferson’s Party look absolutely HUGE :)
    This is what I love to see, a multitude of parties throwing their liberty in the face of the Rep-Dem Machine.
    Smite the two headed monster, Long live the Republic!
    William Potter
    Jefferson Republican Party, Alabama

  3. Eric Prindle Says:

    There is a tradition in New York’s villages for candidates and slates of candidates to create one-off party labels rather than running on the established party lines. Technically, they run as independent candidates. NY is one of a cluster of outlier states in the northeast that have not made local elections non-partisan, and this tradition seems to be a way to get around that.

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