Nicholas Viscio, Knox town board candidate
KNOX — The town board’s deputy supervisor and former liaison for the comprehensive plan, Democrat Nicholas Viscio, is seeking a sixth four-year term. He is running on Democratic and Independence Party lines.
“This past year has been an interesting year,” said Viscio. “I’ve been on the board for almost 20 years. I guess I enjoy the ability to contribute to the community through the position, for the most part. I’m very passionate about our town.”
Viscio, 57, was first attracted to run for town board in 1991, concerned that Knox properties weren’t being treated fairly without townwide revaluation. He hadn’t been affiliated with a party until then. Viscio says he is still driven by inequality and notes that he led the idea of having Knox residents participate in a Section 8 housing assistance program, a federal program for low-income, elderly, or disabled residents.
For about 12 years before he first ran for office, Viscio had served on the town’s conservation advisory council and its cable television committee.
In 2011, Viscio retired from a job at Guilderland High School as a producer and director of media services, where he taught classes and created videos for the district. He owned a business designing aircraft and powered parachutes with his son, an engineer. Viscio is still an active filmmaker and pilot, flying to visit his grandchildren and co-piloting flights for medical patients and veterans.
“I love to talk politics, don’t get me wrong, but politics don’t belong at the board table,” said Viscio, who said he makes a point of stopping hot-button issues from distracting the board. He defended the town board’s resolution, which focused on the process the state legislature used to pass its gun-control law, when a man suggested from the gallery during a board meeting that members’ votes could jeopardize their re-election.
“I’m also passionate about keeping town business at the town table. We’re not the Supreme Court,” said Viscio.
Viscio, a gun owner, said he is opposed to the SAFE Act, but doesn’t expect the town board will address the issue any more.
“It’s not really a position, it’s a fill-in issue,” Viscio said of the transfer-station alternate worker, appointed earlier this year without advertisement. He called criticisms over the appointment “fodder” for the election.
On town appointments, Viscio said the resolution for posting any vacant positions should be followed.
“By state law, town boards are empowered to make appointments in the town,” said Viscio. “There’s a referendum on those appointments that happens every two to four years; it’s called an election. People put us in those positions for being responsible for putting people in those positions.”
Drawing a line between businesses that impact neighbors and those that are conducted discretely in homes, Viscio said Knox is flexible in its treatment of commercial activity and agreed with other board members that the first business district proposal was “limited.” He said enforcement is always a challenge and is up to the zoning enforcement officer.
“If somebody has a business and they have a vehicle that has something to do with that and they park it at their home or something like that, so what, no big deal,” said Viscio. “If it becomes something that impacts the neighborhood…the town has to react to that, you can’t just not react to that.”
Any changes needed to balance zoning interests, Viscio said, should be requested in the comprehensive plan surveys, the basis for the zoning ordinance. Zoning laws must be passed by the town board.
“The kinds of inquiries and input to the plan so far have been much broader than what was done back in ’96,” said Viscio, who, with a committee of around 40 people helped form the last comprehensive plan based on one survey. So far, three different surveys are being used in the update to the document.