CANAJOHARIE — As a group of election inspectors counted more and more votes at the end of the room, Ronald O. Dievendorf’s smile widened.
Sifting through several rounds of ballots, the same string of names were often called out in a row: “Ron, Peter, Tracey; Ron, Peter, Tracey; Ron. Peter. Tracey.”
Main Street Party candidates Dievendorf, Peter Lyden and Tracey MacFarland Stetin, respectively, defeated Republican Mayor Jeff Baker and GOP village trustee allies Francis Avery and Harry Barse by more than half of all votes casted.
@dgazette Dievendorf takes Canajoharie village mayor’s race, ticket sweeps – 3/21/23 – More at RecorderNews.com #Canajoharie #CanajoharieNY #election #electionresults #mayor ♬ original sound – Daily Gazette
The full shift allows the mayor-elect candidate to implement local legislative priorities without gridlock once his term begins on Apr. 3.
Republican Bill Jones also sits on the board. One seat is currently vacant.
“We have a lot to do and our team is ready to start,” said Dievendorf, 74. “Tell me in another four years what this is going to mean.”
Dievendorf, who served as mayor twice between the 1980s and late 2000s, plans to change meeting structures, rekindle relations with the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank and “absolutely” bring the dummy light back to Wagner Square.
The 96-year-old fixture was removed two years from the road following two head-on collisions. Lawyers, insurance providers and state regulators told Baker that reinstallation could open the village up to legal risks. Avery and Barse recently told the Recorder that they would resign if the board ever chose to put in the light.
“With just me, Ron and Tracey, we have enough votes to put the light back if that’s what we decide to do,” said Lyden. “It’s definitely going to at least be looked at.”
Baker faced blowback aplenty from a number of community activists concerned that the administration wasn’t valuing village history.
Residents also rallied behind southern transplant Wyverne Flatt, who the village repeatedly brought to court over the course of more than two years over allegations of harboring a pig against village code.
Criminal charges were dropped last year. Members of the ousted administration and board say that they were obliged to follow the law.
Flatt considered mounting a write-in campaign against Baker this election cycle, but decided to instead throw his weight behind Dievendorf. The mayor-elect has agreed to avoid slapping charges — criminal or civil — as long as the pig, Ellie, didn’t inflict any harm.
“You know, I pay a lot of taxes to live in that village, as do a lot of people and they need to be spent way more wisely than what that guy was doing,” Flatt said. “It’s a great day for Canajoharie that guy lost.”
Before the ticket was formed, Lyden originally wanted to face off against Baker less than three years after arriving in Canajoharie from Clifton Park. Dievendorf suggested that the 33-year-old should shadow him as trustee.
“He’s pretty much committed to one term and then in four years, I’ll give it a go,” Lyden said.
Lyden, Dievendorf and Stetin could face some budgetary hurdles ahead. The state Comptroller’s office on Wednesday released a statewide report naming Canajoharie among four villages in the state “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress.”
“You want to have money set aside for a rainy day, right?” said OCS spokesperson Mark Johnson. “Right now they don’t.”
Baker didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.