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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 9, 2009
Nelligan, Grimm, Runion all mull running in Guilderland
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND The fall elections are still months away, but speculation about who might be running for which town jobs is already in full force.
Matthew Nelligan, vice chairman of the Republican Committee for Guilderland, told The Enterprise this week that he is strongly considering seeking a position. And Republican Councilman Mark Grimm said he is planning on making an announcement about a decision on running for supervisor within the month.
David Bosworth, chairperson of the Democratic Committee for Guilderland, said he’s not counting Supervisor Kenneth Runion out of the race.
Nelligan has held the vice chairmanship since December 2008, working with Chairman Ted Danz. Nelligan was previously a social studies teacher at Guilderland High School, where he taught for a decade, before being involuntarily transferred to the middle school in the midst of what the school superintendent said was a desire to reconfigure a “hostile work environment,” at the end of the 2008 school year.
Massive protests dominated board meetings over the summer as students rallied behind the two teachers slated for transfer. The board ultimately backed the superintendent’s decision. Nelligan believed he was being punished for his conservative views, and handed in his letter of resignation in September 2009, on his second day of teaching at the middle school.
On Sep. 23, 2009, Nelligan began working for the New York State Senate as a member services coordinator, a job he held until the Republican majority on the senate was overturned in the November elections. He now works for the minority, Republican Conference Services for the New York State Senate.
Nelligan told The Enterprise that a strong interest in making the town a better place would be the motivation behind his decision to run for a position, something he said he is strongly considering at this point. “I have always been an active person, a good citizen, and I have an interest in many arenas, government as well as education,” said Nelligan. He said he is not sure what position he’d seek, but public speculation has been that he might run for supervisor.
Mark Grimm, Nelligan’s fellow Republican, and a current town board member, said he will announce his decision on running for supervisor, one way or the other, some time within the month of April. Financial backing and the time commitment involved will strongly influence his decision, said Grimm, who also noted that he has heard from many different people encouraging him to run. “It’s obviously a significant decision, and I’m giving it due diligence,” said Grimm.
Grimm, who works as a media consultant, had acted as a spokesman for Nelligan during last summer’s protests, which were heavily covered by the media. Grimm said this week that he thought Nelligan would be a good candidate.
Bosworth said the search for Democratic candidates is still ongoing, and that he didn’t believe that Runion was 100-percent sure he wouldn’t be running.
“If he was still in the race, not many people would want to get into a primary with Runion,” said Bosworth.
Runion, a five-term supervisor, told The Enterprise last month that he was “99.9 percent sure” he wouldn’t run again. Since Grimm and his fellow Republican, Warren Redlich, were elected in 2007 to the formerly all-Democratic town board, Runion and the Republicans have frequently been at odds. After Redlich set up a website critical of Runion, the supervisor said he felt stalked and had had his identity stolen.
Runion told The Enterprise this week that “there have been an awful lot of people talking to me about changing my mind.” He said people had been stopping him out in public and calling him at home, offering their support.
One Guilderland resident, Marcia Scott, has launched a letter-writing campaign to show support for the supervisor. Scott said she was upset when she read in The Enterprise that Runion might not run for re-election. “I was a Republican all my life,” she said. “I am now a Democrat because I don’t want to be associated with the Republicans in this town.”
Scott said she is urging citizens to write letters of support to the local papers because she wants Guilderland to keep the Democrats on the board. “I am doing this as a citizen that has been reading the papers and following up. I want to spread my wings and help protect this town,” said Scott.
“I value and appreciate people’s comments. I think they’re wonderful and nice,” said Runion. He will take a short vacation, starting at the end of this week, and will most likely announce his decision, with 100 percent certainty, when he returns, he said.
Nelligan said the Republican committee is still interviewing for positions, particularly for the town clerk and receiver of taxes. He said the Republicans have had success in attracting good candidates with their open call, but they are “interested in finding the best, not finding people the fastest.” The committee is not in a rush to decide on a full slate until June, said Nelligan.
Bosworth said that the Democratic committee interviews will continue for at least 30 days, and the Democrats won’t get into formal decision-making mode until the end of May.