Kenneth Runion, Guilderland supervisor candidate
GUILDERLAND — Supervisor Kenneth Runion is running for his eighth two-year term, and is facing opponent Mark Grimm, who initially announced he would run against Runion for the supervisor position for the term beginning in 2012, but then withdrew, saying he believed a Runion-versus-Grimm race would fracture the town.
Runion, a lawyer, was the mayor of Altamont, and the town attorney for Guilderland, before he became supervisor in 1998.
The main focus of his campaign, said Runion, has been maintaining town services without increasing taxes.
“I think we have great services in town, that start with our police and emergency services,” he said. “Our highway department is second to none, we have a great parks system, and those are the things that we have to keep strong and maintain over the years to come.”
Runion said he believes that the library, school district, and fire district budgets and votes should be “non-political in nature.”
“When you get elected officials trying to interfere with those votes, it can put you at political odds with the board members of those districts,” he said.
If it is not a tax that the town board has direct control over, said Runion, he would not weigh in as a public official.
“As a private town resident, I suppose it’s different,” he said. “Board members wear two hats — a town board hat and a resident hat.”
If he were to state his opinion about a district tax, he said, he would make it clear that it was his opinion alone, and was not reflective of the town as a whole.
“It would be improper to imply that it was a town action,” he said.
Runion said he feels that the town hall and town court security practices in place are more than adequate and do not need to be addressed at this time.
“I don’t want to say there is never a time to upgrade, since there is always room for improvement,” he said. “But, I think we create as secure an environment as possible, without being intrusive.”
Runion said court security personnel and Guilderland Police officers are on duty on court nights, and there is a metal detection and screening system that everyone must pass through before entering the courtroom. There are also roped-off areas, and video monitoring.
“We have the same type of security procedures you would see in a county or state office building,” said Runion. “If new technology did become available, we would upgrade if it created a more secure environment.”
Runion said he was in contact with various property owners of vacant buildings in the town, actively trying to work with them to “move them along in redevelopment.”
“We can’t force them to redevelop, but we can work with them and encourage them to move forward,” he said.
He said there were marketing studies indicating that national companies have looked at developing in Guilderland, and found that the best place for development would be in the eastern part of town, from Route 155 to the Albany city line.
“With the economy the way it is, though, it’s hard for businesses to get financing,” said Runion.
He said he had been involved in a number of conversations with people who asked if there might be a zoning tweak the town board could make to help people redevelop their properties.
“If someone were to approach me with a zoning tweak that made sense, I would be more than willing to take it to the town board,” he said.
Protecting the Watervliet Reservoir was one of the main reasons the town passed a law banning hydraulic fracturing, Runion said. Guilderland does not sit on the Marcellus shale.
“We work closely with the city of Watervliet, not only on the water quality issues, but on security issues in and around the reservoir,” he said.
The water supply is tested daily, he said, and the town has spent a lot of money in the past several years on stormwater issues.
“We always conduct reviews of any project in town that may disturb the land, to make sure we don’t have any water quality issues, both in the reservoir and it other water sources.”