Dems run “most established candidates in years”
GUILDERLAND — As Election Day in November inches closer, the Democratic candidates for town office are hitting the pavement to begin their campaigning, with the slogan, “Working together works.”
“The people in our group are working as a team, going door-to-door together, and talking about their experience,” said David Bosworth, the chairman of the Guilderland Democratic Party. “We’re running a positive campaign based on the qualifications of the candidates.”
They are running against a full slate of Republicans.
Many of the candidates are incumbents — Kenneth Runion for supervisor, Paul Pastore and Patricia Slavick for town board, and Denise Randall for town justice — with two newcomers, Richard Sherwood for town justice, and Lynn Buchanan for receiver of taxes, and one switch of positions, with current receiver of taxes, Jean Cataldo, running for town clerk.
Runion, an attorney, is running for his eighth two-year term, and will face Republican Mark Grimm, who was a member of the town board from 2008 to 2012. The supervisor said he decided he would run for another term because he has some ongoing projects he would like to see completed, including sidewalks on Route 146, installing new playground equipment in Tawasentha Park, solving drainage issues in McKownville, and re-drafting the town’s zoning laws.
“I want to make sure those things get done and see that everything is on track for the future,” Runion told The Enterprise. “I have a long history with the town, and I think it’s important to follow through on things.”
He said he plans to run a “really positive” campaign, focusing on the things he has done and the things he wants to accomplish.
“I have a long record of accomplishing things for the residents,” said Runion.
He spoke particularly of how he handled the town’s budget during the recession.
“I think the worst is behind us and we’ve seen improvements in sales tax and mortgage tax revenues,” he said. “We have a lot of building activity going on this year, and our fund balances have increased, so I think keeping the budget stable is something I’ll continue to do.”
Patricia Slavick, a current town board member, is running for her fourth term. She said her incentive was how much she enjoyed working with the residents. She works for the state in finances.
“I’ve lived in this town for 27 years,” said Slavick. “I really enjoy giving back.”
She, like Runion, mentioned wanting to complete the projects the town board had worked on for the past several years.
Paul Pastore, a lawyer, also an incumbent councilman, said he feels lucky to have had the “honor and privilege” of being a public servant for so many years.
“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we have more to accomplish,” said Pastore. “I believe I possess the requisite experience to keep the town moving forward.”
He said he recognizes and appreciates the diversity of the town and the people in it, and knows how to balance the interest and need for development with the necessity for smart growth.
This year, there are two town justice positions open, because the town has added a third judge’s position to the court, in an attempt to reduce overcrowding. The Guilderland Town Court has been ranked as the third busiest court in Albany County.
“I was elected in 2005, and at that time I was the first female judge in the town’s history,” said Randall, the incumbent. “I am running again because I’d like to continue the good work we’ve started in the Guilderland Court.”
Randall said she and John Bailey, the other current town justice, another Democrat, have managed to reduce some of the backlog by devoting extra hours to the job.
“It’s been overwhelming; it’s a lot of work, but we’re staying on top of it,” she said.
Randall said they have also increased judicial supervision and “diversion to treatment” for young, non-violent offenders, and some domestic violence cases, as well as improved things on the administrative side, by allowing people to pay fines by credit or debit card, increasing the use of pleas by mail, and allowing people to pay tickets online.
“We have a very good track record, and fewer repeat offenders,” she said. “We want to make the court accessible to the people.”
Richard Sherwood, no stranger to the town, having worked in town court as a prosecutor for the past six years, is making his first run for office for the position of the third town justice.
“I have seen how things work and how crowded the court is,” he said. “There is certainly the need for the third judge.”
Sherwood says he has been very involved with the community for as long as he’s been a resident of Guilderland, as a coach for youth sports, on the board of the YMCA, and as the town attorney.
“It’s just in my nature to be involved in the community,” he said.
He believes a third judge will make a big difference in reducing court crowding, and that cases will be dealt with much more quickly.
Jean Cataldo has worked as the receiver of taxes for 12 years, and, in the upcoming election, she will run for town clerk. The current town clerk, Democrat Rosemary Centi, announced her retirement earlier this year.
“It was a surprise to me that Rosemary decided to retire,” said Cataldo. “I was asked if I had any interest in the position, and I thought it might be nice to make the run for town clerk again.”
Cataldo ran for town clerk in 1999, against the Republican incumbent, and came close to winning, but fell shy. It was after the election that Runion asked her if she would be interested in working in the tax office; she started as the deputy receiver of taxes, and was appointed as receiver of taxes a short time later.
“My background is very suited to a town clerk position,” Cataldo said. “I have a customer service and secretarial background.”
One of the main responsibilities of the clerk, she said, is to be the recording officer for the town board, and she noted that she had experience taking the minutes as the secretary for Friends Organized for Responsible Community Expansion. Another of the main clerk tasks is organizing all of the records, and, also as a secretary, she said, she was in charge of correspondence and filing for numerous years.
“Knowing that, over these past years, people are turning over their hard-earned money to pay their taxes, it’s not easy being the one to handle that,” said Cataldo. “I think the town clerk’s office is more positive things.”
Lynne Buchanan, who worked as the deputy receiver of taxes under Cataldo for a number of years, but recently transferred into the town comptroller’s office, is running for the receiver of taxes.
“I worked for three-and-a-half years as the deputy, so it made perfect sense to make this a smooth transition,” Buchanan said.
She said she has worked in financial capacities for most of her life, including running a family business in Altamont for many years.
Having worked with Cataldo for so long, she said she is “very comfortable” explaining taxes to residents, and said she has spent “hours, and hours, weeks, days, months, years” at the customer-service window.
“I’d be very comfortable moving into this position,” Buchanan said. “As far as a breaking in or training period, there wouldn’t be one.”
“Obviously the candidates have a very sound record to run on,” said Bosworth.
He stressed the candidates work in the area of prudent financial management, pursuit of the principles of smart and responsible growth, and record of transparency and accountability.
“This is the most established set of candidates we’ve had in years,” Bosworth said.
He emphasized that the Democrats would be running a very positive campaign, and said it would be an expensive one, too.
“Any dollar people give me, I’m going to spend it to get our candidates elected,” he concluded.”