||[Home Page] [This Week] [Classifieds] [Legals] [Obituaries] [Newsstands] [Subscriptions] [Advertising] [Deadlines] [About Us] [FAQ] [Archives] [Community Links] [Contact Us]
Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 11, 2007
Issues range from taxes to growth
Supervisor unopposed as four vie for two seats on town board
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND In a contest similar to the 2005 elections, four candidates are vying for two open seats on the all-Democratic town board and the supervisor is running unopposed.
Democratic incumbents David Bosworth and Michael Ricard are running against Republican challengers Mark Grimm and Warren Redlich.
Campaigns this year have been contentious and even bitter at times as candidates, residents, and appointed officials alike have written many letters to the Enterprise editor criticizing one anothers viewpoints.
The election season began in the middle of June when Grimm announced his intentions to run for town board, well ahead of the other candidates announcements.
In early August, Councilman Ricard filed a lawsuit against Redlich after he was substituted on the Republican ticket for Barbara Davis who declined her partys nomination, and later was named the towns Republican chair.
Ricard sued Redlich because he did not properly fill out his substitution petition, but a state Supreme Court justice ruled in favor of Redlich, keeping him on the ballot. However, the following week a five-judge Appellate Division panel unanimously overturned the decision and invalidated Redlichs original petition.
The court would not rule on a second substitution petition made by Redlich days after the first one. The second petition was filled out properly but was handed in to the countys board of elections past deadline.
The matter was then handed back to the Albany County Board of Elections which accepted the second petition and has not yet challenged it. The election commissioners, one Democrat and one Republican, voted down party lines on the validity of Redlichs substitution petition.
The matter is still before the board of elections and Redlich is still on the ballot as of this week.
The buildup to the primaries in September led to more political bickering as Grimm sought the Conservative line. He trailed Ricard by 19 votes and will only appear on the Republican line. Redlich did not seek any third-party endorsements and will also only appear on the Republican line.
Grimm, after losing the primary, stated that the Democrats "have stacked the deck," saying that many Town Hall employees and their family members were enrolled in the town’s Conservative Party. (A letter to the Enterprise editor this week from a Conservative town hall employee refutes Grimm’s claims.)
Numbers from the Albany County Board of Elections show that 37 percent of Guilderland voters are enrolled Democrats; 31 percent are enrolled Republicans; and 32 percent are enrolled in a third party or are not enrolled in any party.
Democrats have since said that their Republican challengers are mounting "personal attacks" against them and "were making up issues where there are none because they had none of their own."
The Republicans responded by saying they were merely "uncovering facts" and that their criticisms of the current Guilderland administration were being labeled as "personal."
The McKownville Improvement Association is sponsoring a forum for Guilderland candidates on Wednesday evening, Oct. 17, at the Holiday Inn Express on 1442 Western Ave.
The candidate’s forum begins at 7 p.m., and is designed to "give candidates an opportunity to address a wide range of issues that affect our community’s sustainability and livability," says association president, Donald Reeb.
Grimm and Redlich have asked a willing League of Women Voters to run a televised debate at town hall, but Bosworth, the towns Democratic chair and Albany Countys Democratic co-chair, said it is difficult to arrange such an event so late in late in the campaign season. (In a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, Bosworth said guildelines have to be set up 60 to 90 days ahead of a debate.)
The candidates for town board and the supervisor were interviewed by The Enterprise on five current town issues:
One-party rule: The town board and supervisor all belong to the Democratic party. Does this create a more open forum for ideas and debate or is it a hindrance and how open and accessible is Guilderland town government compared to other towns"
Town taxes: There has been no tax-rate increase in the past seven budget proposals, although assessments have increased. What do you think about the current town tax rate and the town’s fiscal policies"
Development and Growth: TechValley is becoming a reality and adding development pressure to nearby towns such as Guilderland, and a large-scale $100 million development called Glass Works Village was recently proposed in town. How do you see the future of Guilderland’s growth and economic development"
Rapp Road Landfill: The city of Albany has proposed expanding the Rapp Road Landfill into the Pine Bush Preserve as one of several options as the landfill reaches capacity. Should Guilderland continue bringing its trash to Albany’s landfill and should the landfill expansion be supported"
Zoning enforcement: During the past two years, Guilderland has undergone several instances of "spot zoning" or specific area zoning changes. Does the town have fair and consistent enforcement of its zoning regulations and should more or less be done in regards to zoning"
For supervisor Runion runs unopposed, points to towns solid finances
Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion is running for his fifth two-year term. He is running unopposed on the Democratic, Independence, and Conservative lines.
Runion points to neighboring towns such as Colonie and Bethlehem and their respective financial situations as a benchmark for Guilderlands success. He said that sound fiscal management and wise investments under his tenure have helped create a solid financial standing for the town.
"The town tax rate is the lowest in Albany County," Runion said. "We’re seeing tax increases in all of the neighboring municipalities."
The supervisor said he is seeking re-election because he wants to continue his work on many projects, such as the continued expansion of the town’s park system, and he wants to provide "a secure financial future."
Referring to the town’s previous administration in 1999 and the 2000 fiscal year, Runion described the budget he inherited as "a complete mess."
"The first budget this current administration did was in 2001"We inherited the 2000 budget," Runion said. He added that he doesn’t know "where some of these other numbers are coming from," referring to statements about town taxes made by Grimm and Redlich.
Runion, answering the Republicans claims that town spending increased 70 percent between 1999 and 2005, maintains that his first budget was not implemented until 2001 and that his administration was left with having to undertake several capital improvement projects.
Runions first budget as supervisor brought an 8-percent tax-rate decrease, he said, the towns tax rate has remained roughly the same at 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Currently, the owner of a $200,000 home in Guilderland pays roughly $50 in taxes, he said.
"We’ve been able to contain our costs," Runion said about the town’s spending. "Our budgets are pretty much bare-bones budgets for our operational services."
Runion said that several "big ticket" capital improvements were left to his administration because of poor planning from previous ones.
In 2003, he said, $11 million was needed for the towns sewer-treatment plant on Nott Road, the result of an unfunded mandate imposed on the town before he was supervisor. Runion said that the town also received $2.8 million in grant money between 2001 and now, which is used to offset costs for many town projects.
The western Guilderland water district extension approved this year will cost around $7 million, Runion said.
"Are we supposed to take that off the table, too, because someone says we’re spending too much," Runion said of Republican criticisms.
Now in 2007, Runion said, Guilderland enjoys the best bond rating a municipality can have.
As for his all-Democratic board, Runion said, "I feel we have one of the most open governments in the Capital District"For almost 200 years, the town was entirely run by a five-member Republican board.
"I don’t think it really matters what the political makeup of the board is," he concluded.
Runion cited a public-comment period before every town board meeting, which is not legally mandated, and televised board meetings as examples of an open government. He said that Guilderland was the first town in the area to televise its board meetings and the only town to televise its zoning- and planning-board meetings.
The supervisor said he has repeatedly gone on the record as opposing any expansion of Albanys landfill into the Pine Bush Preserve and said the town has sought alternatives and continues to do so.
"We’ve had discussions with other landfills"and price-wise it’s compatible," Runion said of the Rapp Road Landfill possibly being filled to capacity by 2009.
The four-term supervisor said he believes Guilderland has "fair and consistent" zoning enforcement, but that the town code may require "some tweaking" over the next few years as the regulations become older.
"We’ve been really responsive to the Smart-Growth principles as proposed by the state," Runion said of New Urbanism designs that integrate commercial and residential developments into walkable neighborhoods less reliant upon automobiles.
The town’s growth, Runion said, is typically between $20 million and $30 million a year in development, which he called "a fairly sustainable growth."
"That’s why we have planning in place," he said of the town’s comprehensive plan developed during his tenure. "And you have to follow it and continue this sustainable growth"because growth can outstrip its resources."
For town board Bosworth say morale high at town hall
Democratic Party leader David Bosworth has been a Guilderland councilman since 2000. He chairs the towns Democratic party and co-chairs the Albany County Democratic Committee.
He is running on the Democratic, Independence, and Conservative lines in the Nov. 6 election.
Bosworth said, now that the primaries are over, hes ready for the town-wide race and is campaigning door-to-door.
The incumbent Democrat said that he doesn’t see the current town administration as a single-party board, but as a "three-party coalition," referring to the Independence and Conservative parties in addition to Democrats.
"Guilderland concerns are put first, not party concerns," Bosworth said of the current town board.
He said the town has adopted strong ethics laws and that Town Hall is "a meritocracy of employment," and that people are hired and appointed by their qualifications and they are promoted or fired by the same system.
"We look for people who are highly competent, not just competent"and there is a high level of morale," Bosworth said.
Bosworth pointed to the towns five-member Industrial Development Agency board, out of which four are not Democrats, and he also pointed to other boards like the towns planning board, with mixed political makeup. Theresa Coburn is an enrolled Republican and Paul Caputo is the towns Independence Party chairman; both of them serve on the planning board, he said.
"I don’t think we have a monolithic involvement of the Democratic Party," said Bosworth. "We try to foster a feeling of openness."
Bosworth said he sees the continued re-election of the town board’s incumbents "as a good report card" and said, "I think our plurality in the numbers of voters is growing."
He added Guilderlands interactive website, newsletter, and televised meetings are all examples of the towns openness.
Taxes are always a big election issue, Bosworth said.
"I think we have been very, very, very careful," he said of the town’s spending. Bosworth cited cost-of-living raises of 3 to 4 percent and capital improvements as factors that affect budgets.
"We inherited some very serious infrastructure problems," Bosworth said, also using the supervisor’s example of the town’s "under-built" sewer plant. "We had had too much growth for the planned usage when it was built."
The town ended up budgeting $13 million for the project in the 2003 budget, but it ended up costing $11 million.
"The budget we inherited had no capital reserves. We had to do some bonding and that was a very big hurdle for us to get over," Bosworth said of the 2001 budget. "It was a crisis. The accounts were empty in terms of capital reserves."
Better planning and proper maintenance will prevent future capital improvements that cost "huge sums," Bosworth said, "so future administrations don’t face similar situations."
Bosworth also compared Guilderland to neighboring towns in Albany County, pointing to the towns tax rate of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value compared to Colonies $2.75. He said the tax difference for a $200,000 home means a yearly tax of $50 in Guilderland and $550 in Colonie.
Referring to its Republican leadership, he called Colonie "the other-party town."
"Is the one-party government hurting Guilderland"" Bosworth asked rhetorically. "I don’t think so"We’re actually putting a good chunk of money into the reserve."
Bosworth credits the towns comprehensive planning, which was adopted under the current administration, in helping Guilderland create sustainable growth.
"We know Glass Works is using the Smart Growth initiatives"and helping with open space issues," he said. "It fits in with our comprehensive plan. I think we’re ideally suited for this project."
"Intensive environmental study" for new developments and recent infrastructure improvements like the sewer treatment plant upgrade and municipal water line extensions make growth sustainable, Bosworth said.
"As NanoTech starts to develop"we can accommodate this, we are ready,’ he said. "It’s a good example of how we’ve been good managers."
Bosworth said the towns trash situation needs to be looked into.
"Last year, when it came up"we as a town board stood up and opposed the expansion into the Pine Bush," Bosworth said. "I think we all feel on the town board, the landfill is being tapped out and some new initiatives are needed."
Bosworth said that, in the near future, a multi-county consortium will need to be created in the place of the current multi-municipality consortium "to solve our waste-management problems."
He said waste must be reduced.
"We’ve been very pro-active. We need new solutions and new thinking," Bosworth said. "This does put us into conflict with some municipalities who don’t see this," he said, referring to the city of Albany, which relies on landfill revenues to balance its annual budget.
As for zoning enforcement, Bosworth said the town tries to enforce its code in a fair and consistent manner, and he thinks its doing a very good job. Under the towns previous supervisor, Jerry Yerberry, he said, there were no zoning officers working for the town.
Bosworth said that town zoning is an important quality-of-life issue.
"We have had a lot of congratulations," Bosworth said of the town’s enforcement. He said Guiderland is looking to increase enforcement and hire more zoning officers.
"I think we’ve been very fair and have certainly increased some tensions," Bosworth said, "but it’s certainly been for the best."
For town board Grimm vows to be a watchdog
Mark Grimm says it’s time for change and he has vowed to be the town’s "watchdog" if elected to town board.
Grimm is running on the Republican line in November, missing the Conservative line by 19 votes in the September primary.
He said that he is running in order to effect change and bring "fearless leadership" to Town Hall. Grimm said that his 12 years of experience as a television news anchor and reporter have given him the investigative skills to "uncover the truth hidden in Guilderland government."
"The campaign has been very good. I’ve been to thousands of doors," Grimm said. He is bicycling to many homes in town. "It’s the only way to beat incumbents, through a grassroots campaign."
Grimm said he is running on a number of issues, but that "the people’s blood is boiling" over taxes and the assessment of their homes.
"I can’t tell you how many people have complained to me about taxes and about the assessments," he said. "If you want change, vote for me and my running mate."
Grimm said that the town board is skewing its numbers when it comes to taxes.
"The idea that they haven’t raised taxes is false"It’s completely false," Grimm said. "The tax rate is determined by the assessed value of property"The assessed value is sky rocketing."
Although the "tax rate" hasn’t gone up, Grimm said, residents are paying a lot more taxes than they were seven years ago.
Not only have property values gone up, Grimm added, but town spending and salaries have also increased significantly. Town spending has increased by 70 percent between 1999 and 2005, Grimm said, and the town board has raised its pay by 89 percent since 1999.
"And that’s with a $3.4 million increase in sales tax," said Grimm, referring to revenues distributed through the county. "They’re spending it as soon they’re getting it"Where’s that money going""
Grimm said that all of his numbers can be verified at the New York State Comptrollers Office. (See related letter to the editor.)
Maintaining that he is not running a negative campaign, Grimm said he is merely pointing to problems in the currently all-Democratic administration. He said a new voice is needed on the town board.
"We have one of the most secretive town governments in the state," Grimm said. "Everything is decided beforehand"There hasn’t been a single desenting vote on that board in over a year."
Grimm said he has uncovered "ethical lapses" during his campaign
He says theres a conflict of interest with Bosworths co-chairing the countys Democratic party and running his non-profit organization, largely funded through the Albany County Legislature, which is more than two-thirds Democratic.
Bosworth denied any "political improprieties" and questioned what his county position had to do with his job as a Guilderland councilman. He called Grimm’s accusations "personal and unwarranted" and added that no one had alleged a conflict prior to this town board race.
Grimm doesnt see it that way.
"This improper arrangement is a glaring example of old-style politics," he said.
Grimm said he wants to have a televised debate with Bosworth and Ricard on a variety of issues, but he said, "They would rather eat glass than debate me on television."
Sending out press releases and speaking during the public-comment period at town-board meetings, Grimm continues to push for an investigation into the retirement of former police chief, James Murley.
He also takes issue with the towns economic development director and grant writer, Donald Csaposs. Grimm said that economic development is about bringing businesses in to the town while managing growth and increasing revenues and maintaining services.
"The fact that Don Csaposs is the town’s director makes a mockery of economic development," Grimm said. "It is such a serious and complicated topic, we should have a professional."
He called Csaposs "a political operative" and questioned what he did at Town Hall.
Csaposs, Grimm, and Redlich have exchanged letters to the Enterprise editor for the past several weeks.
"We have all of these challenges and that’s all the more reason to have a professional," said Grimm.
The towns zoning is a big factor in economic development, too, he said.
Calling the town’s zoning enforcement "counterproductive," Grimm said, "One of the things I see a lot are neighbors fighting with neighbors"and the town is usually like grease on a fire."
Grimm said that the town should create a mediation system for people to work out their differences before the zoning board and the court get involved. He added that the town has an anti-business climate and that it’s another example of the town having "two sets of rules."
"The town government’s attitude is ‘Come, kiss my ring,’" said Grimm, adding that the town needs to be more business friendly.
Grimm said he is not for the expansion of the Rapp Road Landfill into the Pine Bush.
"We should do what’s in the interest of the town of Guilderland, not the city of Albany," he said. "If they push, we have to push back."
For town board Ricard stands on original platform
On the board since1997, Democrat Michael Ricard is its longest-serving member. Ten years later, he wants to continue serving the residents of Guilderland, he said.
Ricard is running on the Democratic, Independence, and Conservative lines in November.
Although going door-to-door "every evening and every weekend" may be tiring, according to Ricard, he is just as committed as he was 10 years ago.
"I am still committed to my original platform. I ran on water and sewer improvements and fiscal responsibility for a rainy-day fund," said Ricard. "I’ve never really wavered. It didn’t matter who was on the board," he said of working with a previously Republican administration.
Two prime examples of adherence to his original platform, said Ricard, are the water extensions into western Guilderland passed by the board this year and another year without a tax-rate hike.
"I do all of my homework and I get the facts," Ricard said. "I’d like to continue my services to the town."
Ricard said that he enjoys working as part of a team with fellow Democrats, but that he doesnt believe politics are a factor in the boards function.
"I don’t think it’s an issue of one party or multiple parties," he said of serving on the board. "It’s a very open process. It has nothing to do with politics."
Ricard said that the public-comment period at the beginning of every town board meeting and the town’s televised meetings help make Guilderland "a very open government compared to other municipalities."
And fiscal responsibility, said Ricard, is something else that separates Guilderland from other municipalities.
"I think the current tax rate is good compared to other towns’ and our spending practices were very good," he said.
Being appointed to the town board in 1997, Ricard said there was " a ’96 tax increase because the fund balance was completely gone"Since then, we have increased our fund balance used to offset property costs."
Ricard said part of fiscal responsibility means only having to pay for improvements that are necessary. Fortunately, he said, the town has been able to get grant money in order to pay for extra projects and parks, which improve the quality of life.
"We do only what we have to do"I think we’re very good with our spending," Ricard said. "It’s nice that we’re able to accomplish all that we have in town, and do it conservatively."
Active planning, said Ricard, has not only prevented over-development and protected existing communities, but has set guidelines as Tech Valley takes hold in the area.
"Most of the municipalities accept that the TechValley growth is now a reality,
he said. "The thing that we’ve done here is"the comprehensive plan, which contains the growth of the town."
The plan incorporates a formula that is used to calculate what resources will be consumed by a development, what revenue will be brought in, and what the overall impact on the town will be.
"We can actually take a formula to make a decision"We’re in a very good position to judge the impacts of these projects," Ricard said of large-scale development like the proposed Glass Works Village. "Other municipalities don’t have this master plan."
Ricard has come under fire by his Republican challengers, particularly by Redlich. He said that he only filed a suit against his challenger to "protect the integrity of the election process," because Redlich failed to properly file his substitution petition.
"As a lawyer, he should know how this works," Ricard said. Guilderland Zoning Board Chairman Peter Barber represented Ricard in the case.
He added that he has never attempted to dodge a debate with his opponents. Ricard said he thought Redlich went too far in his claims of "sweetheart assessment deals," asking Ridlich to apologize to the assessor’s office in a letter to the Enterprise editor in August.
Ricard said he only wants to focus on the issues.
One of those issues that Ricard spoke strongly of was the expansion of the Rapp Road Landfill into the Pine Bush Preserve.
"I for one"I do not support expansion into the Pine Bush," he said. "The Save the Pine Bush group works very hard to preserve that area and to see any of that taken back or destroyed is not acceptable."
Ricard said that Guilderland does not have to take its trash to Rapp Road and that there are plenty of other options that wouldn’t contribute to "the smell problem," in McKownville and other areas near the landfill.
The landfill benefits only Albany, he said.
"If there was a vote tomorrow to move our trash out of there," Ricard said. "I would do it."
The towns zoning board tries to be both fair and consistent, he said, and there is no favoritism involving any of the cases that come before the board. The town zoning regulations are effective and beneficial to the town, Ricard said.
"Of course, you always have a few people who do not agree with that because they can’t get projects through," he concluded.
For town board Redlich offers choice
As a life-long Guilderland resident and area lawyer, Republican Warren Redlich is no stranger to local politics.
Redlich, who did not seek a third-party line in Septembers primary, will be appearing on the Republican ballot in November. Redlich has unsuccessfully run for town board in the past, as well as running in back-to-back congressional races against Congressman Michael McNulty.
This year, Redlich said, he wants to give voters a clear choice between himself and Grimm and what he describes as "political insiders" running Town Hall.
"I think it’s going great. I think we’ve hit some hot-button issues," Redlich said. "We’ve encountered a lot of voters that it really matters to them, too."
Redlich is getting the word out by using his website and with the help of some political professionals.
"Mark is going door-to-door. It is something I do not have time to do," Redlich said of his running mate. "We have knowledgeable campaign managers working with us"I think we really have a good team this year."
Redlich decided to run for town board after he helped Mark Grimm and Barbara Davis gather signatures and hand out literature. When Davis declined her partys nomination, Redlich was asked to run in her stead on a substitution ballot.
Redlich said he was honored to run.
It is "very important to have at least two parties represented on the board if not multiple parties," he said, and the current political makeup of the town board does not reflect the number of enrolled residents in various political parties.
"As one of their big issues in the late 1990s, the Democrats said the town had too closed of a government," Redlich said. "I think it’s one of the reasons we haven’t seen any discussion at the meetings"That’s not open government.
Redlich said voters arent being told the truth about taxes.
"It’s not about the [tax] rate, it’s about the taxes," said Redlich. "My house was assessed in 2000 at $185,000 and in 2005 it was raised to $265,000, a 43 percent increase.
By keeping the tax-rate the same, his taxes went up 43 percent, Redlich said.
Challenging his assessment in 2005, during what Redlich has described as a "botched Grievance Day," he sued the town and got his assessment lowered to a 30-percent increase, he said.
He said the town’s assessments also need to be looked at, and he has repeatedly accused Ricard of having a "sweetheart deal" for his home’s assessment.
"Mike Ricard is the perfect example of that"and it’s wrong," Redlich said of special treatment and "political insiders" benefiting from town-board positions.
"My taxes are up at least 20 percent and, as for spending,"spending is up 70 percent since 1999," Redlich said. "It’s up much more than places like Colonie"They are hiding and distorting the numbers."
Redlich asked, "Where has the money gone""
He is not impressed with the facilities at Tawasentha Park, Redlich said, in particular the pool area, adding that the real comparison between Guilderland and Colonie should be the parks system and quality-of-life services and amenities.
"A lot of parents bring their kids to The Crossings of Colonie," he said of the neighboring town’s park. "I bet if you took a survey of the people over there, a lot of them would be from here in Guilderland"The pool at Tawasentha is terrible."
Development shouldnt be a problem as a result of TechValley, Redlich said, but the towns economic development trends should be re-evaluated.
"I don’t think we’re going to see a big impact on Guilderland aside from people moving in," said Redlich. "I don’t think we’re going to see a Luther Forest in Guilderland," he said, referring to a technology campus in Ballston Spa.
Redlich said that Guilderland should look into other economic developments opportunities such as windmills to provide energy, and revenue-generating businesses that do not require traffic studies.
"Windmills don’t create traffic," he said.
Redlich also took issue with the towns economic development director, Donald Csaposs, and said the towns current zoning regulations are illegal.
"I don’t know what he does"I think he just writes letters to the editor," Redlich said of Csaposs.
Redlich also said he’s against town zoning regulations "going too far."
"We currently have an illegal zoning scheme"I’ve sued the town over it once, it probably won’t be the last time," Redlich said of a suit he filed against Guilderland in 2003. "The way our zoning scheme is set up"certain businesses that could be built in an area, they can’t build there."
Redlich used the example of the four drug stores on or near the corners of routes 20 and 155 of specific zoning requirements. He said the town is over-regulated in disallowing certain businesses in certain areas. It causes the concentrations of similar businesses and congests traffic, he said.
"If I don’t have enough parking spaces, my business won’t do well," Redlich said during his 2003 lawsuit against the town’s code. "I shouldn’t need a permit to tell me that."
The regulations also keep out business, he said.
"There’s no car dealerships in Guilderland. Why are there no car dealerships in Guilderland"" Redlich asked. "People have to travel to Schenectady or Albany to get their cars fixed"we’re just creating more traffic on Western Avenue."
Redlich said the zoning board is trying to run people’s businesses and has no right to do so. He added, "You shouldn’t have to get a special-use permit for everything."
When it comes to the landfill, Redlich said, it shouldnt have been built so close to the city, but that town residents cannot regulate the city of Albany.
"My personal view is that landfills should not be located in cities; they should be located away from people"there are better places for a landfill," said Redlich, who’s law firm on Western Avenue Extension is nearby the landfill. "We should do more to minimize waste"and the town should make a choice and it should be in the interest of the taxpayer."
Vitae for Guilderland candidates
Democrat Kenneth Runion has been town supervisor since 2000. He grew up in Rochester and moved to Guilderland in 1974.
Runion has a degree in political science from the State University of New York College at Potsdam and a degree from Albany Law School.
Runion had a private law practice in Delmar for years and has had several elected and appointed positions. As a Republican, he served as Guilderlands town attorney from 1984 to 1992 and as zoning board attorney from 1992 to 97. He also served as the mayor of Altamont from 1993 until becoming town supervisor.
Runion and his wife have two grown sons, Kevin and David.
Democrat David Bosworth Jr. has lived in Guilderland for almost his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Buffalo and has a degree in public administration from Russel Sage College. He also completed the executive management program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1998.
For 31 years, Bosworth has been the executive director for the Center for Family and Youth, a residential and non-residential child and family services agency that serves at-risk children.
He and his wife have three grown children, Laurel, Jennifer, and David III. They also have a grandson, Benjamin.
Democrat Michael Ricard grew up in Albany. He has a two-year degree in accounting from Albany Business College; a bachelors degree in computer science from the State University of New York College of Technology in Utica; and a degree in math and biological sciences from Albany Junior College.
Ricard currently is the principal computer programmer for the states unified court system.
He has lived in Altamont since 1989 with his wife, Mary. The couple has two grown sons, Tim and Brendan.
Republican Mark Grimm was born in Troy and grew up in Grafton (Rensselaer County). He moved to the Woodlake Apartments in Guilderland in 1995 before buying a home in Guilderland in 2001.
He graduated magna cum laude from Siena College in 1978 where he was named a Conlin Scholar, and received a masters degree in communications from Syracuse Universitys S. I. Newhouse School of Communication.
Grimm is the president of Mark Grimm Communications, a Guilderland media relations and communications training firm.
He lives with his wife Karen (Pauley) Grimm, who is a life-long Guilderland resident, and their 4-year-old daughter.
Republican Warren Redlich is a life-long Guilderland resident who graduated from Guilderland High School in 1984.
He graduated with a bachelors degree in mathematical economics from Rice University before receiving his masters degree in political science from Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif.
Redlich also received a degree from Albany Law School in 1994.
He taught English in Hiroshima, Japan, for a year before returning to the area and opening his own law firm in Guilderland called The Redlich Law Firm. His firm has since moved to Washington Avenue Extension in the city of Albany.
Redlich lives with his wife, Heather, and their two daughters, ages 2 and 5, in the Guilderland home they bought in 1999.
Bailey seeks second term
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND John Bailey is asking voters for another four years on the bench.
Seeking his second four-year term as town justice, Judge Bailey is running unopposed on Nov. 6 on the Democratic, Independence, and Conservative lines.
Since donning the judicial robes, Bailey said he has changed.
"This has been the most rewarding four years of my career as a lawyer," Bailey said of his first term. "I think a lot of lawyers, somewhere in their hearts, would like to be a judge at some point in their careers"When you sit on that bench, you become a different person."
Bailey said that judges must remain the "fairest, most impartial person in the room," and that, as a lawyer, he had to learn how to put his "other life off to the side."
"There’s a presumption that lawyers just know how to be a judge, but learning to be a judge takes time," said Bailey. "There’s a learning curve and I’ve mastered the skills you need to be a judge.
"I’d like to use those skills for at least another four years," he concluded.
Bailey ran for town judge in 2003 when former Judge Kenneth E. Riddett retired after 22 years on the bench. Bailey ran on the Democratic ticket against Republican Edward Downey and won.
However, Bailey said judgeships have much less to do with political affiliations than do other elected positions.
"People would wonder, ‘do I want either of these judges to preside over my case,’" Bailey said of judge candidates who "sling mud" at each other during a race.
Saying it’s "a nice feeling to have an uncontested race," Bailey said that running for a judgeship can take a lot of time, which is often a limited resource for practicing lawyers.
As for the occasional, or not so occasional, 3 a.m. phone call to appear in court for an arraignment, Bailey said its an important part of the job. Formally, Guilderland Police had complained town judges were not accessible for arraignments.
"It happens very frequently, and it’s happening more frequently," Bailey said of early-morning arraignment proceedings. "When there is an individual in police custody, who, very often is terrified, that’s when a judge is truly needed."
Usually early morning arraignment proceedings are reserved for people charged with felony offenses and other serious charges, but they can also be for people wanted on misdemeanor arrest warrants, Bailey said.
During his first term, Bailey said he has seen "way too many repeat offenders," but, as a middle-aged man, he said he can also "recognize the bone-headed mistakes a young person can make."
Bailey said he is mindful of the difference between mistakes and intent.
"It’s the place where people go to seek justice"and justice is served," Bailey said of the courtroom. "The job of the judge is to protect the rights of the accused. It’s what separates our country from the rest of the world."
He will never regret his choice to run and being a judge has given Bailey new perspective as a lawyer, he said. The first-term judge did point out, however, that a town court is only as good as its clerks and staff.
"We have a wonderful and experienced support staff," Bailey said. "There is a lot that goes on"and they make it happen."
One of the improvements under his tenure, Bailey said, was the decision by him and the other team judge, Judge Denise Randall, to start court an hour-and-a-half earlier, at 5:30 p.m.
"We’ve had nothing but compliments now that we are starting earlier," Bailey said. "When you get towards midnight, like we used to do, your mind gets a little numb and you begin to wonder if you are making the best possible decisions."
Centi seeks fourth term
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND Maintaining records and being the recording secretary for a town government that serves 35,000 residents is just another day on the job for Rosemary Centi.
She is running unopposed for her fourth two-year term as town clerk, a post that pays $48,834 annually.
Centi was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the town’s previous clerk in 2000, and then ran again in 2001 in what she called "back-to-back campaigns."
She will appear on the Democratic, Conservative, and Independence lines on Nov. 6.
Prior to being town clerk, Centi was a foreign language teacher. She speaks both Spanish and Italian, which she says is useful when people come to Town Hall looking for various permits like marriage licenses.
The Guilderland Town Clerk is responsible for issuing permits and licenses; preparing elections; serving as the Freedom of Information Law officer; being the records officer; acting as the town boards recording secretary; and serving as a passport agent.
"I always chuckle to myself when people ask what is it that I do," Centi said. "If any record is produced, I am responsible for it"That’s a big responsibility and I take that very seriously."
When asked what she liked the most about her job, Centi quickly responded, "The counter."
"I love that," she said of serving residents who come to her window at Town Hall. "I really do love the people who come to the counter everyday," Centi said. "Some of these people have been here for years and you hear some of their stories"It’s amazing."
Centi said she takes a hard line in keeping organized, accessible records for the public.
"I’ve been very consistent for seven years. If we have it here, you can see it," she said. "I like people, walking away and saying, ‘I’m so glad you’re here and I didn’t have to drive to downtown Albany.’"
Compared to many of the towns in the area, Centi said, Guilderland’s town hall is "very open and accessible."
"If anyone needs us to stay open late, we always accommodate them, especially if it’s for an important license or permit," said Centi. "We’re very accessible that way."
The town clerks office is open from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each weekday. The office is staffed by Centi and two other full-time deputy clerks.
Highway super unopposed
Gifford GOPs only official
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND The towns only elected Republican official is running for his sixth four-year term as highway superintendent, but he says his post has nothing to do with politics.
"Politics doesn’t really play a part in my job"I’ve had good relationships with all of the town supervisors I’ve worked with," Todd Gifford said yesterday. "When our crews go down the street, we serve everyone: Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives everyone."
Gifford has worked under six different town supervisors, both Republicans and Democrats.
"The town recognizes we’ve done a pretty good job," Gifford said yesterday. "If you don’t have a good crew of employees, you don’t get re-elected."
Gifford, first elected as highway superintendent in 1988, has worked for the town of Guilderland since 1973. He ran contested campaigns for his first races, but has run uncontested for the past three elections.
He is running unopposed again this November on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence lines.
His current annual salary is $89,885, according to the town clerk.
Giffords responsibilities include overseeing a nearly $4 million highway budget and he supervises a staff of 40 employees.
"I’m responsible for 164 miles of town highway," Gifford said. His department handles all aspects of maintenance of town roads, such as repairs, upkeep, and snow removal, as well as leaf vacuum services, he said.
As far as running unopposed, Gifford said it feels good.
"It is certainly much, much easier to run unopposed," he said.
Being a life-long resident of the town, Gifford said his "history runs pretty deep with the town."
When asked about county-wide consolidation of services, and the failed attempt in Berne to merge the towns highway department with the countys, Gifford said it should be looked at, but warned of compromising the quality of the services.
"I haven’t really gotten into it that much"but at least in this situation, I don’t think the residents would be as well served," Gifford said of consolidating town and county highway departments. "In specific situations like the snow removal, it could be a benefit and save some money."
Overall, Gifford said he hopes to continue serving the town of Guilderland, and making sure its residents have the best road services available.
A day of dollar haircuts celebrates 1930s founding
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND One man can set the course for generations.
When he was 15, Gregory Zorians mother took him to a barber shop in Watervliet to learn a trade, and, next Tuesday, his son and grandchildren will be hosting a celebration in honor of the opening of his first shop 73 years ago at the familys newest barber shop, in the 20 Mall.
"I just idolized him," said Gregory Zorian Jr., of his father. "As a kid, I loved hanging out in his shop" I loved watching him work."
He followed in his fathers footsteps, opening his first barbershop in what is now Cosimos Plaza in Guilderland in 1964. Most recently, he opened a shop, set with big leather couches and the smell of shaving cream, with his two children, Gregory Zorian III and Nicole Zorian, who have also taken up the family tradition.
Each of them spent two years as an apprentice to their father before taking the state-licensing exam.
"I just thought I’d give it a try," said Mr. Zorian III of how he began in the business. "All of a sudden, 17 years have gone by."
Ms. Zorian hadnt initially intended to follow the family trade either, but shes been carrying the torch for 12 years. She has developed a knack for working with disabled children, her father said, and shes been cutting the hair of one autistic boy for 10 years.
The Zorians pride themselves on accommodating young and old alike.
"There’s a lot of tradition in a men’s barber shop," said Mr. Zorian Jr. "A lot of our business is the father-son thing."
Standard services for children and adults range from $15 to $25, but on Tuesday, Oct. 16, The Zorians will be offering one-dollar haircuts at their Guilderland store, at the corner of Routes 155 and 20, in honor of the family patriarch, who began giving haircuts when they cost only a dollar.
Checked in at the library
By Saranac Hale Spencer
ALTAMONT Heavy lifting happens in the morning at the Altamont Free Library, and some days it reaps more rewards than others.
When emptying the book-return box a couple of weeks ago, librarian Judith Wines found an envelope which isnt uncommon, since the library uses an old post office box to collect books.
"We get a number of mail pieces every month," said Wines. Usually, she takes the misdirected mail across the street to the post office, she said, but this envelope had no stamp and it had "Altamont Free Library" written on the front.
She opened the envelope to find a $2,000 Citizens Bank cashiers check.
A week later, Wines received an anonymous phone call. A familiar voice asked if the library had found a check in the book-return box, but the caller hung up after Wines answered that she had.
"This was very anonymous," Wines said.
The money will go into the librarys building fund, said both Wines and Tony Kossmann, the president of the library board. The library plans to move from its current home in the basement of Key Bank to the old train station across the village green, a plan that is estimated to cost $800,000. Currently, the library has about $200,000, Kossmann said, and it is awaiting the outcome of four grant applications.
"This is actually a very large personal donation," said Kossmann of the anonymous gift. Most donations are in the $100 range, he said, adding that he respects the person’s wish to remain anonymous, but would like to extend his thanks.
Give me answers about animal shelter
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND The arguments between Town Hall and Guilderhaven have been mute for the past two years, but the organizations members now want answers.
The expanded and upgraded Guilderland Animal Shelter was made possible largely through donations in 2004 and 2005 collected by the not-for-profit animal organization, Guilderhaven. Since the new facility opened, Guilderhaven volunteers have not been allowed to work at the shelter.
Guilderhaven members say they feel they have been left out in the cold and they suspect the shelter is rarely used. They say they continue to find homes for more than a dozen animals a month.
"That shelter is completely useless right now," said Guilderhaven treasurer, Susan Green. "And it has been for a year-and-a-half now."
Supervisor Kenneth Runion and Animal Control Officer Richard Savage say that liability insurance and large deductibles are the reasons volunteers arent allowed.
However, Runion told The Enterprise yesterday that because of a decrease in the towns liability in 2008, this may change in the near future.
"This year, we do anticipate to see some decrease in our liability insurance costs," Runion said. "That"will allow us to do more things. I want to make it clear that these things are always in a state of flux."
Runion said that, prior to 2001, the town did not have a deductible for its liability insurance and now it has a $25,000 deductible. The supervisor said insurance costs have skyrocketed since Sept. 11, 2001, and that volunteers at the animal shelter would pose a financial risk.
Currently, the supervisor said, there are no volunteers at the shelter and there are no town employee volunteers either.
"We used to have applications for the volunteers, but we just don’t need them right now," Savage said. "If the insurance situation changes maybe it will be different, but right now, we’re not having any."
Looking for answers
In November of 2004, Runion suggested changing the policy at the town-owned animal shelter, so that dogs who are not adopted in a certain period of time would be sent to another shelter, where they could have been killed.
Guilderhaven volunteers were angry, their spokesperson Sue Green said in January of 2005, after negotiations with the town broke down. Green said they spent months raising $100,000 in cash and donated services for renovations to the shelter on the premise that Guilderland would run a no-kill shelter.
Runion responded at the time that the new policy would save taxpayers money and would be more fair to the abandoned animals at the shelter. Dogs would have had 90 days to be adopted under Runions original policy suggestion, before they were sent to a kill shelter. This, Runion said, was more humane then having an animal live alone in a cage for years.
A week after the Enterprise story ran, residents packed a town board meeting, speaking out against the policy. But Runion began the meeting by saying he had rescinded the kill policy. He was trying to do what was best for the towns dogs, he said at the time.
Under the towns current policy, if a dogs owner cant be located and a rescue organization does not want the animal, the dog will be evaluated by an animal behaviorist and possibly trained.
Guilderhaven says now, it just wants answers.
In her regular column, "Guilderhaven News," about the organizations events and animals to adopt, Green wrote in the Sept. 27 Enterprise, "On Oct. 16, Guilderhaven will be attending the Guilderland Town Board meeting in an effort to get clarifications of the Guilderland Animal Shelter policies (operating hours and staffing, clinics and adoptions, animal surrenders and volunteer opportunities).
"Many residents have called Guilderhaven board members, expressing confusion and frustration over these matters."
However, Guilderhaven never sent a letter to Town Hall and never requested to be placed on the agenda to discuss concerns with the town board, according to Runion.
"I called Bonnie Quay when I was made aware of the notice in the paper," Runion said of contacting Guilderhaven’s president.
Quay said Runion told her that Guilderhaven couldnt be on the agenda until November or December.
"He said the agenda was full and that there were two public hearings that night," Quay said of Oct. 16. "Guilderhaven just wanted to go and find out what was going on with the shelter."
There are public hearings concerning local laws scheduled for 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. for next Tuesdays board meeting. The local laws deal with illicit discharges to the towns storm water system and storm-water management.
Quay said that she is not planning on going to the meeting that evening, but is still looking to get on the agenda for later in the fall.
Members of Guilderhaven could speak during the public-comment period before a board meeting, Runion said, but it would only be for the record and could not be "a discussion" or a "question-and-answer" forum.
"We don’t allow for a question and answer period," Runion said of the public comment portion of town meetings. "It looked like they were looking at having an open discussion on different aspects of the animal shelter."
Runion suggested that the organization speak with Deputy Police Chief Carol Lawlor who is in charge of the shelter or a town board liaison to get some questions answered before arranging a meeting with the town board.
Green said she still plans on attending the Oct. 16 board meeting, even if she doesnt speak at it.
"We have been shut out of the loop completely," Green said, who added that she still helps find homes for dozens of animals without the help of the shelter. "I don’t understand why, because our goal has always been for the betterment of the animals."
She said that she has heard complaints from residents who say they can’t reach animal control officers or they are told, when they find a stray animal, to "keep it." She also said that the animal shelter is reluctant to take cats.
Runion responded through The Enterprise by saying it is common practice for a shelter to refuse feral cats because of the possibility of a disease outbreak, similar to the one in the Mohawk and Hudson River Human Society where hundreds of cats had to be euthanized.
Green said that she would never send or allow other people to send a feral cat to the shelter and that often, the animal shelter is locked.
Savage, who runs the shelter, said he would never turn down an animal that wasnt sick and it is only locked when officers are on call.
"We do whatever we can for the animals," Savage said. "When I have to leave the shelter, I put a paper clock on the door saying when I will return, and it’s never more then 10 or 15 minutes than when I said when I get back."
He said that he tries to keep the doors of the shelter open as much as possible, but concluded, "It’s a big town and you can’t be at two places at once."
Two priests guide thriving Christ the King parish and school
By Jo E. Prout
GUILDERLAND Christ the King Church has two new priests to meet and guide its growing parish.
Fathers James Fitzmaurice and Paul Catena serve 2,500 families at Christ the King, which also houses a school for students in nursery school all the way through eighth-grade.
"It’s pretty big," Catena said. "It’s the first really suburban parish I’ve served. There’s certainly a lot of work here for a second priest. It’s good to be a presence in the school as a priest to get to know the kids and to get the kids to know us."
"There’s only a handful of parishes that have an assistant," Fitzmaurice said. The diocese sees Christ the King as a model for the future with the people so involved in the ministry. He said that this parish is a good experience for a new priest to see that kind of involvement.
Catena, 41, is originally from Amsterdam. He was ordained June 9 at the cathedral in Albany, and assigned to Christ the King as the associate priest soon after.
"This is my first assignment," he said. In his homilies, he said, "I try to relate the scriptures to the people’s lives. I try to take what is written and make it relevant to the people today.
"I’m not part of an order. I’m a diocesan priest," he said. He chose to study to be a diocesan priest, rather than to enter a religious order, because "I wanted to be closer to home," he said. Had he joined an order, he said, "I could have been sent anywhere. I’ve traveled a lot in my life, and I want to be more rooted."
Fitzmaurice, 58, is an Albany native who is glad to be back in the area. He has two sisters who live in the Capital Region, and a couple of nieces and nephews, although most are now grown and have moved away, he said.
Fitzmaurice taught at a high school for five years after graduating from Siena College before he went into ministry. Since then, he has taught student teachers at Siena and high school students in Minnesota and Boston, Mass. Before coming to Guilderland, Fitzmaurice was the only priest at Holy Trinity parish in Johnstown for nine years. There, three parishes were eventually merged into one, he said.
"I enjoy the Albany Diocese very much. I have a lot of respect for Bishop Howard Hubbard," he said.
Fitzmaurices name is rightly pronounced, and often misspelled, Fitzmorris, he said. His parishioners call him Father Jim, or even his preferred Father Fitz, a nickname from his teaching days.
Catena has also traveled, spending his junior year in college in Italy.
"I speak Italian fluently," he said. He returned for a year of study in Italy after he graduated, and then spent eight more months in Italy teaching English.
"I would like to learn Spanish next. There’s a need for that in our diocese and [I can] use that in my ministry," Catena said.
While working on a Ph.D. in political science, Catena studied both languages, but he wants to be immersed in Spanish before he will be able to speak Spanish fluently, he said.
Catena does not speak Latin, but he said that Latin masses are still offered within the diocese. While the current Pope has called for more services in Latin, Catena explained, "He’s allowing for a wider use of Latin for those who request it. It’s not going to affect me. Two [churches] in Albany and Troy within the diocese already celebrate in Latin."
Catena said that the Pope is trying to bring back people who left the church after Vatican II because they were upset with changes then.
"If it serves the need of a particular group of people in the diocese if they feel they’re better able to worship God I think that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with it," he said. "Younger people who didn’t grow up with it but feel connected to it may like it. Vatican II never said Latin would be totally forgotten it’s part of our tradition. We don’t want to lose it. Maybe that’s part of it, as well," Catena said.
"It’s kind of an encouragement of a policy that’s always been," Fitzmaurice said. "Most of us could not celebrate Mass in Latin."
Catena did not plan early on to enter the priesthood.
"For people who don’t know me or know many priests, this wasn’t something I thought I would ever do in my life," he said. "I always felt called to marriage and family. I pursued that. I dated." Catena said that he wanted to have a family like the one he was raised in he is one of seven children. When a family did not materialize, Catena said, he realized that God might have another plan for him.
"I know what it meant giving up, and I wasn’t excited about that. But God wouldn’t ask me to do something and be miserable," he said. He quit his job at the New York State Senate and started seminary studies. He said that beginning a new life was difficult, but that he prayed for wisdom. "The real question is, ‘What does God want you to do with your life"’ " he said.
Catena studied for six years. "It was a long process of formation," he said. "You have a lot of time to really grow in faith because the process is long and intense. You are ready to serve people."
Christ the King also hosts seminarian Matthew Wetsel, a Rotterdam native who will stay for the church calendar year and then continue his studies for two more years in Maryland before he is ordained, Fitzmaurice said.
"It’s a pretty lively house, with the three of us and my Labrador retriever," he said. Wilson, his dog, is the house mascot, Fitzmaurice said. All the children in the parish and the school have gotten to know Wilson, he said.
Fitzmaurice said that the former priest at Christ the King trained the lay staff well and made it easy for him to step into his role as priest there. Now, he said, he keeps "encouraging the people to be involved with the parish. They’re encouraged to take responsibility for the parish life and not leave it up to the priest," Fitzmaurice said.
Catena said that he is learning ways that the laity those who are not ordained in the church can be involved with the church.
"If I could do nothing more than inspire them to grow in their faith, to take what they hear on a Sunday and incorporate it to live the Gospel and be the presence of Jesus Christ in the world, then my work will have been a success," Catena said. His job is to send parishioners out to "be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. [There is] nothing more I could ask, and nothing else could give me joy," he said.
"The people here in the parish are very involved. We have a number of ministries the people are involved in. We have a whole booklet that we give to new parishioners opportunities for service available," Catena said. He said that his parishioners’ greatest strength is their service to others.
"Putting flesh on the gospel, taking what they hear in the scriptures and putting it into practice," he said. "It makes our work as priests a lot more fulfilling and meaningful because we’re not just doing it alone taking their baptismal call seriously to preach by the way they live."
Fitzmaurice uses a casual approach to his parish, he said.
"I try to meet the people where they’re at let them know what the Church teaches and what is important in terms of developing their faith," he said.
"I was enthusiastic about coming to a parish that had a school," Fitzmaurice said. He wants to increase the enrollment in the school, also. "It’s a vital part of parish life," he said.
Saying that no question is off-limits, Catena briefly explained the Roman Catholic stances on celibacy and marriage within the priesthood.
"This tradition of a celibate clergy goes back to the beginnings of the Church," he said. "It’s been part of the tradition since the beginning even those who were married and wanted to be ordained would live as brother and sister. The wife had to agree with this."
Catena said that celibacy became mandatory around 1,000 A.D., but that it was in practice before that.
"The priest is an icon of Jesus Christ," he said. "Jesus Christ was unmarried and gave all of himself to his flock. Priests try to emulate Jesus Christ," Catena said. "I’m just an average type of guy. I like sports, being around people, having a good time." He said that he does not know others’ perception of priests, but that he was "asked by God to do something."
"It’s a rule of the Church," Fitzmaurice said about celibacy. "I don’t think it’s going to be changing anytime soon under the current administration. If they changed it, do I think we could get more priests" Yes, we would." He said that such a change would not occur in his lifetime.
"The rule of celibacy does discourage some people from entering seminary," Fitzmaurice said. Changing the rule would require a "whole change in the structure of the Church," he said. At his age and with his experience, Fitzmaurice said, "I do see celibacy as a gift."
Now that he is back in the Capital Region, Fitzmaurice is happy with so much to see and do.
"It’s wonderful to be back in Albany," he said. "This area is a thriving area. There’s so much available so much to do. Everything is so convenient." He recently met up with old friends from high school, the former Cardinal McCloskey High School, that later merged with Bishop Maginn High School.
Fitzmaurice and Catena both spoke highly of those in their new, shared parish.
"The people have been fantastic in terms of welcoming me," Fitzmaurice said.
[Return to Home Page]