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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 9, 2011
Battle is joined
By Saranac Hale Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND The Democratic Committee has endorsed William Hennessy and Patricia Snyder for the two town board seats that will be up for election in November.
Currently, Democrats Richard Reilly and Deborah Baron hold those seats. Reilly, a lawyer, said in March that he would not seek another term. Baron, who works at the school, said yesterday of the committee’s 9-to-6 vote, “I have greatly enjoyed working with and for the people of New Scotland.”
Elected to the board in 2003, Baron voted with Reilly against a popular bill that would have capped the allowable size of retail developments.
The committee, Democratic chairman Michael Mackey said, was primarily concerned that Baron would be viewed by voters as having been supportive of “big box” development. The last election turned largely on issues around land-use, which became the focus of debate in town after Cazenovia-based Sphere Development proposed building a Target-anchored shopping mall on the former Bender melon farm. In 2009, voters elected a slate of candidates who ran on a platform of controlled commercial development, advocating for a 50,000-square-foot cap on single stores and a 100,000-square-foot cap on shopping centers.
“Mike probably has a better pulse than I would,” Baron said of why the committee chose not to endorse her.
The party will caucus within the next several weeks to choose the candidates who will appear on the Democratic line.
Hennessy, an engineer, who has been on the town’s zoning board of appeals since 2002, said he had been considering a run for the town board for a few years, but didn’t decide to seek the endorsement until after a committee meeting earlier this year. The committee voted on May 22, with one of its 16 members absent.
Snyder was appointed to the town’s newly formed ethics committee last year and has a keen interest in land-use issues. The town board needs to be “vigilant” and keep residents’ best interests in mind, she said, concluding that the community should have a resolution to the issue of development and the size cap soon.
“The end result will probably be very agreeable to the town as a whole,” Baron said yesterday of the size-cap issue. The town board is currently considering a reworked version of the defeated bill.
While she had supported larger size caps in the past, Baron has since said that she would support a 50,000-square-foot cap and has suggested smaller caps for smaller parcels. Of the prospect that she is seen as supporting large-scale development, Baron said, “I can’t change people’s perception.”
Lance Luther, the chair of the town’s Republican Party said yesterday that the committee had selected candidates, but was not ready to name them. He expected to announce them soon.