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Elections commissioner retiring after 18 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Dennis Piedimonte helped see county through big changes with voting machines

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans County Legislator Bill Eick presents a special recognition award to Dennis Piedimonte who is retiring after 18 years as an elections commissioner.

Piedimonte was appointed as the Republican elections commissioner 18 years ago, succeeding Bob Batt.

Piedimonte and Helen Zelazny, the former Democratic elections commissioner, saw the county through implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. HAVA resulted in the end of the old lever voting machines and transition to new electronic machines that scanned ballots.

Piedimonte said he enjoyed working in the elections office with Zelazny, who was later succeeded by Janice Grabowski. Clara Martin and Eileen Aina have been deputy election commissioners, with Martin switching about a month ago to become confidential secretary for Sheriff Randy Bower. Dorothy Morgan is the new deputy elections commissioner.

“It’s been a wonderful 18 years,” Piedimonte said at Wednesday’s County Legislature meeting. “We never once had an argument in the office. There were never any loud voices. I don’t know how many places can say that.”

The Legislature appointed Sylvia Shoemaker of Carlton to serve as elections commissioner. Shoemaker worked for the county for 17 years as a welfare fraud investigator. She is currently vice chairwoman of the Orleans County Republican Party. Her husband, Jim Shoemaker, is on the Carlton Town Board.

Sylvia has worked part-time the past four years as clerk in the BOE.

“I think she is an excellent selection,” said Legislature Chairman David Callard. “She served the county for many years already and did a wonderful job.”

Shoemaker will be paid $18,860 for the part-time position.

Orleans County legislators Fred Miller, left, and Bill Eick, right, are pictured with the county’s elections commissioners, Janice Grabowski, second from left, and Sylvia Shoemaker, who starts her new job on Feb. 1.