Wide Open Race for Oliverio’s Open Legislature Seat

With petition season fully underway, the legislature seat for District 2 will finally have a new representative for the first time in almost 20 years.

With Democratic stalwart and current Legislator Sam Oliverio opting to run for Putnam County Executive, two long time Putnam Valley residents, Democrat Wendy Whetsel and Republican Bill Gouldman are vying for the seat. Whetsel is currently a member of the Putnam Valley town board and Gouldman is the town chairman for the county’s GOP committee. He has previously run a couple times for a state Assembly seat against Sandy Galef, and lost both times.

Whetsel, who was officially nominated by the county’s Democratic Committee a couple weeks ago, said how critical it is to have a Democrat on the county legislature. Right now, Oliverio is the only Democrat on the legislature, surrounded by eight Republicans. Whetsel said she decided to make a run for the county position once Oliverio officially determined to run for county executive.

“We need to have a presence and a voice,” Whetsel said.

As for Gouldman, who has the endorsement of the Republican, Conservative, and Independent lines, said it’s troubling how young people and senior citizens are struggling to live in Putnam County. He said because so many people leave the county after graduating high school and college, there is a “brain drain” from the county.

“I’m running to try and solve that problem,” Gouldman, a restaurant businessman said. “To make it a place where my wife and I can stay here, seniors can stay here, and young people can move back to the place they grew up.”