Statement: Phil Erner’s Victory Against the 14-Term Incumbent and Chair of the Ulster County Legislature

All over the country, the working class is galvanizing around movement candidates who fight back against the multiple crises created by profiteers and the politicians who enable them. Phil Erner’s projected victory against a fourteen-term incumbent, the Chair of the Ulster County Legislature who led the push for the ill-conceived Kingstonian PILOT project, shows that the people of Kingston are ready to take a stand against development that puts the profits of real estate developers ahead of affordable housing and other basic needs. 

Mid-Hudson Valley DSA is proud to have endorsed Phil and worked on this campaign. Phil is the type of person who rides around on his bicycle, coming to the aid of whoever needs it, whether it’s an elderly person who needs food delivered, or a homeless person facing arrest. It doesn’t surprise us that the insiders and the establishment were oblivious to the resounding sentiment delivered by the voters this week. When Phil ran, he was called a “nobody,” and his campaign was called “idle.” In reality, as one voter we phonebanked told us, Phil was “pounding his pavement” knocking doors, and our volunteer members were right there with him, knocking around a thousand doors in Ulster County’s 6th Legislative District, talking to residents who fear getting priced out and losing their homes, who want better and affordable healthcare, funding for schools and hospitals, and the lights to stay on in their homes. This was a truly people-powered campaign with no fundraising. 

Phil has also been a strong, dependable ally of our statewide work on legislative campaigns such as the New York Health Act, which would provide comprehensive health care for every New Yorker, and Public Power, which would reposition energy as a common good so that New Yorkers, not shareholders, decide what kind of energy we produce and for whom. Our energy system can be the vehicle for transformation that delivers green jobs, community investments, and overall well-being. Phil knew this when he chained himself to a tractor along with three other farmers in 2019 in order to halt the construction of a fracked gas plant, The Cricket Valley Power Plant. He was quoted as saying: “We need a Green New Deal with renewable-energy jobs which protect our families’ health and homes and repair our environment from the cheap-fossil-fuel era.” Phil’s unseating of the establishment incumbent is about more than just one office and one district. It’s about saying NO to the rotten deal the working class is constantly served, and demanding a new deal, and demanding it now. 

As our volunteers stood holding signs for Phil on a rainy Election Day, voters approached us to thank Phil for running and to urge him to keep running even if he loses the primary.

Mid-Hudson Valley DSA stands in solidarity with those who delivered this week’s results. We remain committed to dismantling the old guard that indulges in career-making deals that endanger working people’s lives and look forward to continuing organizing with Phil to get him elected in November. Join us!