November/December 2019 Issue
October 24, 2019

Dozens of NYSUT member ‘Pipeline’ candidates are on the ballot in November

Author: By Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United
pipeline project
Caption: Joe Cantafio, president of the West Seneca Teachers Association and a member of the NYSUT Board of Directors, is running for West Seneca Town Council.

Continuing a trend that has been building for years, 53 candidates who came through NYSUT’s Pipeline training are running for local offices in the Nov. 5 elections.

The Pipeline Program provides extensive training and support for working people who share the union’s values and agenda and are willing to put in the effort required to mount a campaign.

Forty-one of the 53 are members of NYSUT local unions. Here are some examples of union members stepping up to lead in their communities.

Joe Cantafio, president of the West Seneca Teachers Association and a member of the NYSUT Board of Directors, is running for West Seneca Town Council.

A lifelong resident of the community, Cantafio teaches history and government and has coached football, wrestling and lacrosse. He said the union’s support has been key.

“Now more than ever, West Seneca needs a proven leader, and NYSUT has prepared me for the task,” Cantafio said. “Through the Pipeline training, the Member Organizing Institute, and leadership training, I am able to bring a proven record to our community.”

Ralph Smith, a member of the Putnam Valley Federation of Teachers, is running for Putnam Valley Town Board after three decades as an educator and community resident. He’s taught elementary and secondary levels, and he staunchly supported Putnam Valley launching its own school system.

Nicole Herkey is running for West Seneca Town Council. The 12-year literacy specialist in the Buffalo Public Schools is a member of the Buffalo Teachers Federation Executive Committee, a NYSUT and AFT delegate and a MOI graduate. She’s lived in West Seneca for 22 years.

Angela Riley is a UUP member in Binghamton University’s School of Pharmacy running for Binghamton City Council. She has been a PTA leader and a member of nearly a dozen community boards. Riley won a contested primary with the support of the Binghamton TA.

Michelle Roman, a member of the Holley Central School TA, previously won an upset in a special election to fill out the rest of the term for the outgoing mayor in Lockport and is running for re-election.

With labor support, she prioritizes issues important to unions and working families.

Early voting is here!

The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and your usual polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For the first time in New York State, there will also be nine days of early voting between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3.

Early voting must be completed in person, but it will probably not take place at your usual neighborhood polling place. It will be at a central location in your county. To find the early voting sites in your area, visit

Here’s what it means: Early voting allows you to vote in person at a poll site in your county.

You do not need a reason or excuse to vote early.

Each county will determine the poll sites and the hours for early voting.

On Election Day, Nov. 5, however, you must go to your usual assigned poll site to vote.

Obviously, if you vote early, you are NOT eligible to vote by absentee ballot or at the polls on Election Day.