|[Home Page] [This Week] [Classifieds] [Legals] [Obituaries] [Newsstands] [Subscriptions] [Advertising] [Deadlines] [About Us] [FAQ] [Archives] [Community Links] [Contact Us]
Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 10, 2011
By Jo E. Prout
ALTAMONT With the deadline for petitions to run for village trustee or village justice past, three incumbents are unopposed in the upcoming March election.
Village trustees William Aylward and Christine Marshall and village justice Rebecca Hout are each seeking new four-year terms. All are longtime village residents.
“For me, it’s always been a duty. If the people think I can contribute, I stay,” said Aylward, 75. Aylward has been active in local politics since 1971, when he was elected mayor of Altamont. He served as mayor for 10 years, winning five two-year terms. All village terms are now four years.
“I think that’s great for stability,” Aylward said, a retired Guilderland social studies teacher who is also a county legislator. “You stay on to see that what you started is finished. That’s what we’re doing now.”
Aylward is pleased to stay on the board while the village upgrades its wastewater treatment plant.
“We really need to examine that closely, with regard to the cost,” he said. Aylward’s concern for keeping the tax rate unchanged led him to tour the village and town treatment plants last fall before he voted to accept the engineer’s proposals.
This week, he said that he wants to “see that we can continue to maintain our integrity” by not raising taxes unnecessarily. “When you’re elected a trustee, your job is to vote. I am always anxious to understand those issues. My job is to ask questions for the public, as well as for myself, to understand the issue,” Aylward said.
“The board is kind of in the middle of a few projects that I want to see through,” Marshall said, echoing Aylward. “It’s a major upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant. It’s going to be a several-years project to completion.”
Marshall and Aylward are running together on the Altamont First party line. Village elections do not involve traditional parties, like the Republican or Democratic parties.
“We ran together on the same party line four years ago, and we’re doing it, again,” she said. In Altamont, she said, major political parties do not come into play. “They want it non-partisan, in that respect. You select your own party name and run on that. I think that it works very well in the village to have it that way. There really is no need for partisan politics at the local level.” Representatives should work “for the good of the village, not for the good of a party,” she said.
Marshall holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the State University of New York College at Fredonia, and a master’s degree in political science from SUNY Binghamton. She retired from the New York State Department of Civil Service in 2005.
A resident of Altamont for 25 years, Marshall has just completed her first four-year term on the board. She had no previous public office experience, she said.
“I finally put my poli-sci degrees to work as an elected official when I retired. It was kind of full circle for me. It was kind of a nice fit,” Marshall said.
Marshall and Aylward are proud that the village’s senior services acquired a handicapped-accessible van during their last term.
“That was very important to me,” Aylward said.
Marshall said that the village now has better shared service agreements with the town for some of its senior programs.
“We’ve improved on those,” she said.
She also worked to streamline personnel policies in the village to make them accessible to the village’s 35 employees and the public. The improvement resulted in a new employee handbook.
“It’s just a more readable document,” Marshall said.
Aylward and Marshall mentioned beautification of the village as both an accomplishment and a goal for the next term.
Aylward said that the village has enjoying “a wonderful period of identification, with the number of activities that build community spirit.”
Marshall is working to make Altamont more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. That project “centers on sidewalk installation and replacement, which is an offshoot of a study we had done a few years ago,” she said. Beautification “also attracts businesses and more people to the village,” she said.
Aylward and Marshall turned in 14 pages of 127 signatures for their petitions to run for office, Aylward said.
“We got a lot of positive comments,” he said. Asked if he, himself, knocked on doors in one of the snowiest Februaries in decades, he said, “It’s the democratic way.”
Aylward, a resident of Altamont for 46 years, said, “You can’t wish the snow away, so you have to live with it,” and knock on doors.
Aylward is concurrently serving his third four-year term as a county legislator. He taught for Guilderland schools for 35 years.
“It was a great job. I loved it,” he said.
After he finished his 10 years as village mayor, Aylward served as chairman of the town’s Democratic Party. He ran for and was elected to the town board in 1993, and ran for and won the supervisor’s spot in 1995. Both town seats had two-year terms.
Justice Rebecca Hout has served the village court since 1993.
“I feel that I have something to offer,” she said. Along with Justice Neil Taber, she said, “I bring continuity to the court in Altamont.”
Hout runs her general law practice out of her home. She earned her undergraduate degree from Fordham University, and her law degree from Albany Law School. She has lived in Altamont for 30 years.
Serving in the court is “a way of providing a public service to the village,” Hout said. “I’ve been doing a good job. I stand on my record of nearly 18 years and hope that the voters find I’ve served them well.”