Robert Altieri, Knox town board candidate

Robert Altieri

KNOX — Republican town council candidate Robert Altieri wants to preserve Knox’s rural nature and residents’ individual liberties. He is running on Republican and Conservative lines.

Altieri, 27, is a project manager for C. D. Perry & Sons Inc., a heavy construction company specializing in marine construction, including projects on locks and dams of the Erie and Champlain canal systems.

Altieri grew up in East Berne and moved to Knox four years ago, around the time he became interested in politics as the 2008 presidential campaign was underway. On a local level, Altieri said he takes issue with a town board “telling people what they can and cannot do.”

When the gallery was full for the April town board meeting when a resolution about the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act was adopted, Altieri spoke out, asking the town board to consider other resolutions, like one passed in Westerlo calling for a repeal of the state’s gun-control law. The one the Knox board passed condemned the quick passage of the law and encouraged more public input.

Altieri said began to consider a run for town council at that time.

“I think, at this point, unless something else came up, I don’t think it would have to be revisited,” Altieri said of the resolution. “I think there’s more important things at this point the town could be focused on, unless more legislation was passed, or if there was a public outcry.”

In general, Altieri wants the town government to be more open and welcoming. With supervisor candidate Pamela Fenoff, Altieri said he has discussed using e-mail lists for a newsletter, or recording videos of town meetings to go online for residents to access town information more easily. He also supports advertising for all vacant positions.

“Especially today, in an age with social media, if they can really reach out to the people in the town and get them to interact…I think it’s their job to do that,” said Altieri. “You’re elected to represent these people, so you need their feedback, and once you have their feedback, you can pass ordinances that reflect what the people want.”

“When you have an open position for the town, for whatever the job may be, you want the best person available. It’s just like running a business,” said Altieri.

Altieri believes both the hamlet and the area of Route 146 near Lewis Road should be designated business districts, using roads as boundaries. The zoning change made in September to allow for senior housing, a residential use, he said, is related to business uses for basic amenities.

“I think the town board and planning board could outline what types of businesses could be there,” said Altieri of a business district. “They could dictate that we’re not going to see a big-box store, we’re not going to see this, we’re not going to see that.” Describing this as “government dictation,” he said he is more opposed to its impact on personal lives. He noted other towns have similar regulations, which could be based on public opinion with surveys.

Altieri was critical of the broad questions of the initial survey, which was not mailed but advertised and available in various locations and online.

“Why wouldn’t you just research what other towns have done and ask all the questions in one shot? Like I said, people are busy,” said Altieri.

In addition to the survey to be mailed to each house in Knox, Altieri suggested advertising and contacting the church in town to raise awareness.

Altieri hasn’t had business before the Knox zoning or planning boards, but he said residents have told him discouraging stories of how their requests have been declined.

“If you make the town more cooperative and easier for people to deal with, I don’t think people would be as apprehensive to approach the town board,” said Altieri. “I think, once you know what’s going on and what people are planning to do, then it can be worked out as far as how you’re going to enforce it.”