Village elections uncontested
Voters in Altamont and Voorheesville will not be choosing among candidates in the March 21 village elections. Petitions were due on Tuesday and just one petition was filed for each open post.
In Altamont, Kerry Dineen, a Guilderland school music teacher who has served on the village board for 12 years, submitted the sole petition for mayor. She will be the village’s first female mayor and will serve for four years.
“I think after 125 years we are probably overdue for a female mayor,” Dineen told The Enterprise. “I am proud to be the first and hope to set a good example for other women to get involved in community government.”
Leading local government is not new to Dineen’s family; her grandfather, Carl Walters, was Guilderland’s town supervisor for 16 years.
Mayor James Gaughan, who was elected with Dineen and Dean Whalen in 2005, has decided not to seek re-election. Gaughan was out of the country this week but submitted a “Mayor’s notes” column before he left, reflecting on his tenure as mayor. (See Opinion pages.)
The 2005 election was hotly contested and the trio ran as a slate. Village elections do not involve traditional political parties like Democrats and Republicans.
Gaughan, Dineen, and Whalen, who were then newcomers to village government, ousted the incumbents. Gaughan bested incumbent Paul DeSarbo and challengers Harvey Vlahos and Jerry Oliver by a wide margin; he outspent them by a wide margin, too. Issues at the time included a police force that some villagers felt was excessive, an overtaxed public water system, and a lack of planning for the future.
Whalen, an architect who headed Altamont’s comprehensive planning process, will be unopposed in seeking another four-year term. Trustee Madeline LaMountain, who was appointed last year to fill the seat left vacant when Trustee Christine Marshall died, is running unopposed to fill out the two years left in that term.
John Scally is making his first run for office in Altamont, also unopposed, to take the trustee seat that will be left vacant by Dineen; that term is for four years.
James Greene, an attorney who was appointed village justice in 2015 after Lesley Stefan resigned, and was then elected in 2016 to fill out that term, is running now for a full four-year term.
Dineen sets goals
In answer to Enterprise questions, Dineen shared in an email her reasons for wanting to be mayor and her goals as well as reflecting on some of her accomplishments.
“I believe that I can provide stability as the village transitions from our current administration to a new administration that will help shape the future for Altamont,” she said. “My experience on the board will allow me to help maintain established initiatives while supporting new ideas from both our new and experienced trustees.”
Dineen stated several goals. “I want to work with the board to ensure that we continue to be fiscally conservative while continuing to offer our residents services and programs,” she said, and went on, “I want to continue shared decision-making, obtaining input from all stakeholders to make the best possible decisions for our residents and village.”
Finally, Dineen said, she wants to encourage “more residents to get involved with our government and village programs.” She continued, “Our village is better served by the exchange of ideas and opinions. Planning board, zoning board, referral committee, and program volunteers are just a few areas we are always looking for interested residents to become involved.”
Among her accomplishments over the past 12 years, Dineen said she is most proud of keeping the tax rate low. Over the last decade, she said, “We have had multiple years of no increase. This was accomplished with virtually no change in tax base. The only additional value added was in 2016-2017 with the annexation of the Bozenkill development.”
Dineen also listed “establishing an open and transparent government,” which includes “encouraging dialogue at monthly meetings with reporting from all departments” and “establishing a newsletter and televised board meetings for communication and getting information out to the public.”
She said, too, that protecting resources was important and noted an additional well came online and a water policy was adopted.
“In 2005, when I first ran for trustee, I stated, ‘We are privileged to live in this unique community.’ Today, I still believe that. Altamont has a true sense of community that has been enhanced by the leadership of Mayor Gaughan over the last 12 years. I have worked with him closely and learned a lot from him. I am honored to run for this position and follow in his footsteps, and I am confident that with my experience and our outstanding board of trustees, we will make the village proud.”
Voorheesville holds special election
In Voorheesville, where it’s an off year for village elections, Richard Straut is running in a special election to fill out a two-year term for trustee. There are no other openings.
Brett Hotaling had resigned from the village board a year ago to become the village’s superintendent of public works, like his father and grandfather before him. Straut, who was the village engineer at the time, stepped up to take Hotaling’s place on the board, setting aside his firm’s professional agreement with Voorheesville to do so.