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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 5, 2009
Dems sweep Guilderland
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND Democratic incumbents swept their Republican challengers in all town races.
Supervisor Kenneth Runion, councilmembers Paul Pastore and Patricia Slavick, and Town Justice Denise Randall will each serve another term. The town board will continue to be dominated by the Democratic party for at least another two years.
Tuesday’s victories came after the Democrats were stunned two years ago, when two Republicans won seats on the town board, ousting the town’s longest-serving councilman and the town’s Democratic chairman and county’s co-chair.
The Democratic winners are pleased with the unofficial election results, but the Republican challengers said yesterday that they, too, feel good about their campaigns, despite the fact that none of them were elected. Campaigning on both sides was often contentious as the town board political majority hung in the balance. The Enterprise was flooded with letters to the editor, both in support of the candidates, and attacking them, over the last several months.
Peter Golden, whom Runion defeated in the race for supervisor, said he hoped that Runion would take into consideration that over 3,600 people did not vote for him. Runion collected 56 percent of the votes, compared to Golden’s 43 percent; 8,276 people voted.
Enrolled Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans in Guilderland, but the town’s voters are split roughly into thirds, between the two major parties and those not enrolled in a party or members of small parties.
The Democrats, according to the Albany County Board of Elections, had ten times the funds of the Republicans during the campaign, although individual Republicans raised thousands of dollars for their own campaigns.
“I thought the results were a demonstration of a kind of unsettled feeling in the town,” said Golden, an author. He said he was not the least bit disappointed with his campaign, and loved getting out into town and talking to people.
“I thought it was a great, competitive election, and I’m grateful to everyone who came out to vote,” Golden said.
Supervisor Runion said elections can be unpredictable, and he is pleased to have been re-elected for his sixth two-year term. Although he said he could not be sure that the majority of votes for Democratic candidates was a reflection of the ongoing controversy with the two Republican town board members, Runion said, the numbers revealed that voters in districts that had cast a majority of Republican votes in 2007 had reversed to a Democratic majority this year. The town has 32 election districts.
“I want to thank the residents and voters of the town for putting their trust in me for another two years. We’re going to work hard to provide good government to the people in Guilderland,” said Runion.
Going forward, some of the specific goals of the administration include preparing for the Zoning Review Committee’s report and implementing its suggestions, completing the flood studies in McKownville and other areas of the town, and, most importantly, closely monitoring the budget over the next several years, he said.
“There is a lot to do, and it requires good management,” the supervisor said.
Matthew Nelligan, a Republican who challenged Slavick and Pastore for a seat on the town board, said he was proud of his campaign, and that the turnout and results did not surprise him. A public policy teacher who left amid controversy for a job with the New York State Senate Republicans, Nelligan said he thought the Guilderland Democrats had a significant enrollment advantage, and had also done a good job in driving out their votes, although Nelligan collected the most funds of any individual roughly $20,000 and had the greatest expenditure, during the campaign.
“The Democrats worked hard; congratulations and hats off to them,” said Nelligan. “It certainly would have been better to win, but I would like to thank the people that put their faith in me.” He said he believes there is an obvious division among Republican party members on their views of current elected officials, and said that may have played a factor in the election.
“I think there are lingering issues we have to deal with. We don’t agree on some basic questions. We are going to have to move forward and learn,” Nelligan said of the GOP. He received 22 percent of the votes. His running mate, David Fraterrigo, an office manager and Guilderland native making his first run for office, received 19 percent. Pastore received 29 percent, and Slavick received 28 percent.
“The residents have spoken”
“First and foremost, I was thrilled and honored with the results. I am proud to be a resident of the town, and proud to represent the residents,” said Pastore, a lawyer, who received the most votes for town board. He said he was gratified by the election results.
“We are an administration that is founded upon consensus building, shared ideas, and inclusion, and I think that has proven beneficial to the residents,” Pastore said. He said that, with the challenging economy, the most important goal is to hold the line on taxes, while continuing to offer the best services possible to the town.
The administration must take an interest in not only the working residents, but their children, grandchildren, and all future generations as well, said Pastore.
Although he believes that a number of factors contributed to the Democrat’s victory, Pastore said when he was out campaigning he learned some people were concerned about what appears to be a sense of derision and controversy on the town board.
“Even though people may have differences of opinion, there must be a fundamental respect that prevails. I think people are quite cognizant of what destructive politics may create,” said Pastore. The administration must continue to work to get the business of the people done, Pastore said, adding that there is no need for prolonged and agonizing discussions.
“If this is some sort of backlash against the current Republicans on town board, hopefully something good will come from it, in the way of understanding that we need to work together,” concluded Pastore.
Slavick, who works in the state comptroller’s office, said that, while she was out campaigning, she was surprised by the number of residents who said they watched the televised town board meetings. Many people thought a lot of the meetings were chaotic, and that town business was not being conducted, she said.
“The residents have spoken. I think residents like what this administration has done in the past, and want to see it continued,” said Slavick. She said the number-one priority of the board going forward should be balancing the budget, while providing services, holding the line on taxes, and maintaining public safety.
The second priority, she said, will be addressing the flooding issues, and third will be providing sidewalks, as long as funding is available.
“I would like to thank all the people who helped us during our campaign, and all the people who came out to vote,” said Slavick.
Denise Randall, the Democratic incumbent for town justice, received 63 percent of the 8,041 votes for the position, defeating Republican Christopher Aldrich, who received 36 percent of the votes. Both of them are lawyers.
“I am deeply grateful to the voters for the opportunity to serve another four years in a job that is challenging, to be sure, but it is a job which I love, and which has become a big part of my professional life,” Randall said.
The results show that the people of Guilderland do appreciate the justice court, she said, and understand that they will be treated with respect and dignity no matter who they are, or what they have been charged with.
“The rule of law prevails in the Guilderland Justice Court, and the voters showed their appreciation of that,” said Randall.
Rosemary Centi, the town clerk, ran unopposed, and received 6,101 votes. She will serve her fifth two-year term, and has run unopposed in the past three elections.
Jean Cataldo, the receiver of taxes, was also unopposed, and received 6,336 votes. She has held the position, which has four-year terms, since 2000.
Slavick summed up the election by saying, “This was a big team effort on the part of the Guilderland Democratic Committee, and we are all very happy with the results.”