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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 7, 2009

Grimm reality sets in for Runion

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — It’s official. After months of speculation and uncertainty, the Republican and Democratic parties in town have announced their candidates for the position of town supervisor.

Republican Councilman Mark Grimm and long-time Democratic incumbent Kenneth Runion will vie for the spot.

In March, Runion announced that he was 99.9 percent sure he wouldn’t be running again, after a decade in the position, because of the bullying and bickering between members of the town board, which he said started after Grimm and fellow Republican Warren Redlich took office in January 2008, on what had previously been an all-Democratic town board. 

According to Runion, a lawyer, the constant negativity was preventing him from focusing on his job. He also maintained that his identity had been stolen by Redlich, when the councilman created a website using Runion’s name.

“I’ve just run out of adrenaline,” Runion said in March.

But, after a vacation, and a huge show of support from Guilderland residents, Runion told The Enterprise yesterday, “The adrenaline’s back!” He officially announced his candidacy at a Democratic Committee meeting on Monday.

The amount of feedback Runion received from people encouraging him to run was “surprising and humbling,” he said. “I really did not have to make the final decision on whether or not to seek another term in office…My fellow Guilderlanders made that decision for me.”

Grimm, who has said for months that he was considering entering the race for supervisor, also officially announced his candidacy this week. Grimm told The Enterprise yesterday that he has been visiting the various town departments, and thinks Guilderland has a strong workforce that is looking for a new leader.

Grimm has made an issue about the appointment of Carol Lawlor as the new police chief, alleging she covered up problems the former chief had.

“We need an open and fair government,” said Grimm. “I have a positive platform to bring that about.”

According to Grimm, who owns a media consulting business, people are not engaged in local government because the government makes it difficult. “A lot of answers come from the citizens, and they need to be more engaged,” he said.

In order to make it easier for residents to get involved, Grimm said, he would make the budget more clear and easy to understand, by adding text and detail to each line item. He would also promote putting videos of town meetings online so that everyone could watch, at their convenience.

“I would revise town hours to better serve working people’s schedules,” said Grimm, explaining that he would make it easier for people to obtain permits and other documents without having to re-arrange their days to get to town hall during normal working hours.

Other issues on Grimm’s agenda include fixing problems with questionable assessments, simplifying the assessment appeal process, prohibiting no-bid contracts to family members of town elected officials, and applying consistency to zoning decisions.

“I’m concerned that a lot of the things we’ve accomplished in the last eight years would be dismantled if a Republican were elected,” said Runion.

Having been involved in town government since 1984, Runion said he has the experience needed to keep a tight control over the town budget, especially in this time of economic uncertainty.

“There are a lot of things we need to get done, and can do, with stimulus money,” Runion said, commenting that he knows what the important issues are, and is creative enough to get them done.

In a letter to the Democratic Committee, Runion said he had an obligation to the town to preserve the values he has worked to instill during his 10-year stint as supervisor.

“My commitment is to work with my running mates to continue to deliver government services in a responsive and cost-efficient manner, and to improve the quality of life of all of our town residents,” said Runion.

Neither David Bosworth, chair of the Democratic Committee, nor Ted Danz, chair of the Republican Committee, were surprised at the decisions made by Runion and Grimm.

Bosworth said that all the Democratic incumbents will be seeking re-election: Patricia Slavick, Paul Pastore, Rosemary Centi, and Jean Cataldo.

Danz said so far, only Matthew Nelligan has announced his candidacy for councilman. Nelligan, a former Guilderland High School government teacher, calls for a clean campaign in a letter to The Enterprise editor this week.

“I don’t think it was any big secret that the two would run against each other,” said Danz. “I just hope it’s a good campaign that doesn’t go negative.”

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