Cooperstown will have its first full slate of competitive village elections since 2011 and first contested mayor's race since 2010, after both parties nominated candidates this week.
At the local Republican party caucus on Tuesday in the village meeting room at 22 Main St., a last-minute candidate prevented the caucus from cross endorsing Deputy Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, a Democrat, who is running to replace Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz.
Jonathan Becker, a lawyer who has lived in the village for five years, said he wanted to run to give residents a choice and provide better communication skills. Becker said he started the Facebook page Grouse about Cooperstown, because he is frustrated with a lack of information being given to village residents.
Otsego County GOP chair Vince Casale had asked the caucus if they were willing to cross endorse Tillapaugh, a Cooperstown native whose family owns Tillapaugh Funeral Home. However, the nomination was withdrawn when Becker, who said he was a Republican until last year and is now an independent, said he would like to run for the position.
The village Republicans have not run a candidate since 2015, have not run a full slate of candidates since 2011 and have not run a candidate for mayor since 2010.
About 10 people were at Tuesday's caucus, where they also nominated Art Boden and Fred Schneider to run for the Village Board of Trustees. Boden, who is a manager of several local restaurants, and Schneider, who owns the Landmark Inn, were not at the meeting because of work conflicts, Casale said. However, he said they are both running to represent the business community in village government.
"I think you will find this ticket is not about party politics," he said. "There is a voice missing from our current board. I think we need to look for fuller representation on this board."
On Monday, in the newly renovated upstairs ballroom at 22 Main St., the Democratic caucus had a crowd of about 30 people nominate Tillapaugh to succeed Katz, and Trustees Cindy Falk and James "Jim" Dean for re-election.
Katz spoke before the caucus, endorsing Tillapaugh, and thanking her for her service during his three terms. He said in an era where he was often criticized for not being a native, Tillapaugh was an example that there was not a uniform political opinion among Cooperstown natives.
Tillapaugh, who runs the Cooperstown Art Conservatory, said she and her husband, Gary Kuch, who is the director of the Clark Scholarship Foundation, moved back to her hometown 30 years ago because it was a great place to raise their daughters. She said she is proud to be part of a board that has gotten so much accomplished for Cooperstown, and is grateful to Katz for being a mentor to her.
Tillapaugh is the chair of the village's finance committee and the parks committee and is a former chair of the public safety committee.
Falk and Dean were re-elected in 2015, despite a Republican challenge from John Sansevere. Falk, a professor with the Cooperstown Graduate Program, was first elected in 2012. Dean, a woodworker, was elected a year earlier to serve an unexpired one-year term.
Katz, who has run for mayor unopposed three times after losing to Joe Booan in 2010, said in December he would not seek a fourth term.
"I never said I wouldn't be sad," he said, "but I don't regret it."
In Cooperstown, the mayor serves a two-year term, but the six trustees serve three-year terms.
The election ballot may not be completely set: independent candidates have until Feb. 13 to submit petitions to get on the ballot. The election is Tuesday, March 20 from noon to 9 p.m.