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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 30, 2008
GOP elects DeFronzo chair
By Jo E. Prout
NEW SCOTLAND The newly-elected New Scotland Republican Party chairman said this week that there is a difference of opinion between Republicans and Democrats on how the town should be developed.
“They’ve been asking me a good four years,” Chairman Joseph DeFronzo said. “I had so many other things going on. Finally, a very good friend of mine…rather suggested I should take it.”
Contentious development issues in town, particularly at the Bender melon farm at routes 85 and 85A, “kind of pushed me into agreeing to service as chairman,” DeFronzo said.
His goal is to build the Republican Party in New Scotland. Currently, the five-member board has just one Republican. Two town board members are up for re-election next year; 2008 is an off-year for town elections.
“With a little push and shove, we’ll win,” DeFronzo said.
Voters in New Scotland are divided roughly in thirds, with one-third enrolled as Democrats, one-third as Republicans, and one-third independent or enrolled in small parties.
“The Republicans wanted to tone it down the development. We do not want a box in that development,” he said. “The time will come next year when there are some bad feelings between the public and the way certain board members voted.”
DeFronzo said that, for instance, Republican town board member Douglas LaGrange, a farmer, is “totally against it. It’s still up in the air what’s going to happen.”
DeFronzo was unanimously elected the town party’s chairman last month for a two-year term. He replaced the former chairman, Glenn Schultz.
“He’s very good,” Schultz said about DeFronzo. “He’s been very active for years in the party. He’s an excellent choice.”
Schultz said that he left the chairmanship because of his work.
“My job changed. I was called out of town more and more and couldn’t do the job justice. Joe is able to be here now,” Schultz said.
“You can never leave”
DeFronzo, 58, lived in Milan, Italy until age 11, when he moved to Queens. He got involved in New York City politics at the age of 14. His neighbor was the district leader of the Democratic Party in Queens.
“He was like a father figure to me,” DeFronzo said. “He kind of indoctrinated me into politics. Once you’re in politics, you’re always in politics. You can never leave it.”
He often went to the Democratic Club in Queens with his neighbor.
“I got involved in several campaigns,” DeFronzo said. Just before he received his master’s degree in international law and business from Columbia University, he ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic line to represent Queens in the State Assembly. His friend and neighbor had asked him to run, he said.
“I was going against an incredible gentleman” with 22 years in office, DeFronzo said. “I did fine, actually, considering it was my first [run], and I was very young. He was a good legislator.”
DeFronzo was first enrolled with the Independence Party but switched to the Democratic Party for his Assembly run. After a year and a half, he said, he enrolled with the Republican Party, following his true philosophy.
DeFronzo said that he was also pushed to run for the New York City Council, but he declined.
“I was not interested in city politics. I didn’t like it at all,” he said.
In 1995, DeFronzo took over the chairmanship of the Queens Republican Party, where he worked for two years. He left that position when he was appointed executive director of the international division of New York State economic development by then-Governor George Pataki. His job was to get businesses from abroad to set up shop in New York State. He served as executive director for two years. Afterward, he was appointed city manager of Port Chester (Westchester Co.).
In 1999, his wife, Susan Aron DeFronzo, convinced him to move to New Scotland.
“It’s the best decision I ever made, or she has made for me,” he said.
“I love it here at the foot of the Helderbergs,” DeFronzo said in a written statement. “This is a beautiful community; truly a jewel in the heart of New York State and a wonderful place to raise a family. I look forward to leading a rejuvenated Republican Committee into the future years to ensure that the town government officials meet the needs of our residents.”
DeFronzo’s wife ran for town justice four years ago. Aron DeFronzo is a former president of the Women’s Republican Club in Queens County, DeFronzo said of his wife.
Aron DeFronzo is now senior counsel with the New York State Crime Victims’ Board.
“She’s shying away from politics,” he said.
DeFronzo said that he is looking forward to working with his friend, John Graziano Sr., the new Albany County Republican Chairman.
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us, and we look forward to the challenge,” DeFronzo said.