Odell Earns GOP Nomination Easily Over Denbaum

We are part of The Trust Project
Paul Denbaum


With election season about kick into gear, the Putnam GOP Committee officially gave County Executive MaryEllen Odell the nod at the Republican annual convention in Mahopac last Thursday.

Odell, in convincing fashion, got the nomination from the GOP committee over challenger and current Kent Councilman Paul Denbaum 138-11. Odell has served since 2011 and will be running for her final term this year.

Odell said she’s grateful for the vote in confidence the committee gave her and she believes the county has come a long way since she took office seven years ago. She said the endorsement lifted her up after a few tough days following the tornadoes that hit the county earlier in the week. (She didn’t attend the convention because she was still at the TOPS building in Carmel working with county officials in the aftermath of the storm.)

“I’m really honored that I had such overwhelming support,” Odell said in an interview. “It made me feel really good about what we’re doing in Putnam County.”

Denbaum is expected to challenge Odell regardless of Thursday night’s tally.

Former legislator Dan Birmingham nominated Odell and former legislator Vincent Tamagna seconded that motion. During his short speech, Birmingham said Odell has offered the county “honorable public service” while keeping government small and boosting economic development. He drew on the fact that prior to taking office, Odell has been involved with countless projects that continuously improved Carmel and the county.

Birmingham explained to his fellow Republicans how Putnam succeeds in numbers, with a “caliber of candidates” for various positions each year.

Tamagna said Odell has made county government open and transparent. He said Odell built a good team and is able to work well with legislators. The county is in solid shape financially, Tamagna added.

He called Odell a “superstar and “true leader.”

“It’s not about making deals, it’s about doing what’s right,” Tamagna said. “And she works hard at it.”

Denbaum tried to offer a contrast to Odell.

Denbaum said he’s running because he believes he can be a better leader than Odell and he has a better chance of winning in the general election against Democrat and Kent Supervisor Maureen Fleming. He noted the last two candidates for countywide positions the GOP committee nominated both ended up losing. (Former district attorney Adam Levy lost to Robert Tendy, who is now the district attorney and former sheriff Don Smith lost to Democrat Robert Langley last year.

“If the message is the same old Republican Party versus change coming from the Democrats, we’re going to have our hands full,” Denbaum said.

He said residents see their taxes go up, while their roads remain unpaved and projects not complete. Every year, the same projects are brought up, but are never brought across the finish line, he asserted. He referenced Patterson Crossing, meant to bring a Costco to the county, as one of those stalled projects.

He wants to see younger adults have an opportunity to live in Putnam and thinks he can be a leader who’s a “little brighter and little more energized.”

At one point, Mahopac resident and GOP committee member Robert Buckley challenged Denbaum over his assertions about Patterson Crossing. Buckley said a lawsuit is delaying the construction of the project and Odell can’t control that. Denbaum said Odell should not have held a December press conference about possibly putting a shovel in the ground while the project faces litigation.

Buckley shot back Odell was right to voice support for the project and called Denbaum a “novice” for his difference of opinion.

Buckley also claimed that Denbaum is working with Fleming to help the Democrat get into office, which Denbaum refuted.

Denbaum said Fleming would be “an absolute disaster” as county executive and a “train wreck” and he pledged to support Odell if she beat him in the Republican primary.

Fleming, when reached for comment, was surprised by her town board colleague’s comments and didn’t realize he had “such negative feelings” about her.

She also scoffed at the baseless claim that she and Denbaum were working together.

“Ask the people in the Town of Kent what kind of job I’ve job as supervisor,” Fleming said. “I think people are pretty satisfied with the job I’ve done as supervisor and I can do the same for the county.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.