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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 3, 2011
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND Mary Lou Bartolotta-Connolly, the Democratic incumbent, is seeking re-election in District 32, which lies entirely within the town of Guilderland and includes McKownville and Guilderland Center. She is running for her sixth term. She also has backing from the Conservative and Independence parties.
“I feel I have made a difference,” said Connolly, of the nearly two decades she has served on the legislature. She owns an insurance agency in Green Island, but her background is in international travel, and she worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. for several years.
“I’ve been in politics all my life,” she said.
Connolly said she thinks the county needs to compromise on a budget, and meet somewhere between the 2-percent tax levy cap and the 19.2-percent increase the county executive has proposed.
“Seventy percent of our budget are state and federal mandates, and it’s great for the state to say we can’t go over 2-percent, but where are we going to get the money, out of thin air?” she asked. She would like to see the county legislators sit down with the directors of various departments to see where programs can be cut, or if funding can be moved from one program to another.
“People need to remember that we’re talking about county property tax, and Albany County’s property tax has always been the fourth or fifth lowest in the state; even if we raise it, we’ll still be the ninth lowest,” said Connolly.
She also said she hoped the county would not have to raise its sales tax.
“I think we’re at a point right now where a good portion of our sales tax revenue is from people who come from outside of the county to shop, and I’m not sure if going up a certain percentage would do the trick,” she said.
Connolly said she would not advocate dipping in to surplus reserves, because a surplus is necessary to maintain in case of a emergencies, such as some of the storms that hit the county this year.
“Instead of hiring new people, there are many county employees who work 35 hours per week, and, if you increase them to 40 hours, you won’t have to hire anyone new or pay health insurance costs for new employees,” said Connolly, of her idea that might be a new way to expand while saving money.
“The nursing home is one of the key reasons I am going to continue to run,” she said. Connolly has visited the nursing home many times in the past, and played piano and sung for the residents there.
“If we had followed the current executive’s plans to close the nursing home, where would the 200 residents be today?” she asked. She is advocating 100 percent for a new nursing home, because the old one is becoming antiquated.
“Funding is already being given for people to stay at home, and have employees do home visits, but, when it gets to the point that they can’t, we can’t leave them in limbo,” said Connolly.
“I don’t believe we should be doing hydraulic fracturing,” she said. “It might be good for five or six years, but what happens when you open your faucet after that and you get methane coming out?”
The state should regulate hydraulic fracturing, she said, but, if the county has to be a leader, it should.
“We’ve got to start somewhere,” said Connolly.
She said she thinks the new district lines were drawn correctly.
“I believe the committee did a wonderful job; they had to re-draw the districts because it wasn’t balanced,” she said. All of the legislators represent the people of Albany County.
“It shouldn’t make any difference where we live; we should be representing everyone the same. When you vote, you vote on issues that represent every cross-section of the county,” said Connolly.
She does not support reducing the size of the legislature.
“I know how hard I have to work right now, going to events all over Albany County. If you reduced the legislature, you wouldn’t have the same diversity and representation you’ve got now,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of new, young, energetic people coming in the run for the legislature,” Connolly concluded. “Then there are the people who have been around for a while, and we remember where we came from, and where we are today.”