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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 30, 2009

GOP fields candidate

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — Republicans have a new candidate for supervisor in this year’s divisive election.

Following Karen Moreau’s decision to withdraw from the race, the town’s new GOP committee chair, Lance Luther, submitted Michael Fields, who is not enrolled in a party, to the committee on vacancies.  His was the only name formally submitted and he was the only one to be interviewed by the committee, said John Graziano, the Republican commissioner for the Albany County Board of Elections who was one among three who sat on the committee.

“The recent Republican nomination of Mr. Mike Fields for supervisor… did not come with local committee support or official endorsement,” write Republican committee members Kurt Anderson and Jason Windsor in a letter to the Enterprise editor this week.  “Rather, it was effectuated solely by county-level officials, and without the consent or approval of the local GOP committee.”

The 16-member town committee was split on its support for Fields, Anderson said this week.  A few other names were discussed, Luther said, but Fields was the only person who was both qualified and able to run at this point.

“It’s not like we’re imposing a candidate on them,” Graziano said.  “Here’s it in a nutshell,” he explained, “that petition process was endorsed by the committee.”  When Moreau submitted her petition, it came with the understanding that, in the event of a vacancy, the three-member committee would review names submitted by the town’s party and name a replacement candidate.  This was the only candidate to come before the committee on vacancies for an interview, Graziano said.

“He’s the only name that was really in play,” said Windsor this week.  “The [town GOP] committee was completely split on that decision.”


A former town board member, Fields is a retired manager who knows how to work well with people, he says.

“Of course the big-box is the big issue,” he said of development in this year’s election.

Fields disapproves of the way Democratic Supervisor Thomas Dolin, who is running for re-election to the two-year post, managed public debate at board meetings.

For almost a year and a half, since Cazenovia-based Sphere Development proposed building a Target-anchored retail center at the intersection of routes 85 and 85A, development has dominated discussion at town meetings, sometimes becoming forceful.

“I probably would have stopped the meeting,” he said, referring to a heated meeting last January during which Councilwoman Deborah Baron changed her vote to applause from the crowd in order to entertain a law that would have capped the size of a single retail store at 50,000 square feet.  Many of the vocal residents at that meeting are members of the citizens group New Scotlanders 4 Sound Economic Development.  The group supported incumbent Republican town board member Douglas LaGrange and led a campaign to get him and a founding member of NS4SED, Daniel Mackay, on the Democratic line at the party’s June caucus.

“I just feel NS4 has taken over the town,” he said.  Fields was active in a group headed by Moreau and called PRIDE of New Scotland, which was formed in opposition to a proposed local law that would have included the 50,000-square-foot cap and a 100,000 square-foot cap on shopping centers.  The bill was supported by NS4SED.

“I’m not in favor of a big box and I’m not in favor of a cap,” Fields said.  Asked what he’d like to see in that corridor, Fields named Stuyvesant Plaza as a good example — the Guilderland shopping center has been a frequent reference in New Scotland’s debate.  “With perfect planning, you could do a nice job,” he said.

The Republicans will hold a primary in September between the party’s two endorsed candidates — LaGrange and planning board member Charles Voss, both of whom are sympathetic to NS4 — and two Republicans supportive of PRIDE who are challenging, Roz Robinson, a lawyer, and Tim Stanton, a farmer, for town board.

“Both Roz and Tim think the same way I would,” he said when pressed about which pair he would support.  Regardless of who wins the primary, he said, he will support their candidacies.

Fields named taxes and the availability of water as other issues facing the town and said of development, “I really don’t know what the residents want at this point.”  He suggested conducting a survey in order to get a complete picture of what residents would like to see.  “There’s no sense going in and fighting a war,” he concluded.

“I like people and I like to work out problems with people,” he said.

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