We have accomplished much in 12 years, it’s time for me to step away

After many months of soul-searching and discussion with my family, I decided not to run for re-election in March as Altamont’s Mayor.  I have served in the office of mayor for 12 years and believe it’s time to step away to allow new ideas to be implemented and for the next and current generation of elected officials to get an opportunity to put their imprint on Altamont’s future.

Although we do not have term limits here, I feel it is healthy to bring new perspectives and give current staff a chance to exercise their talents. I am pleased to say that our veteran and new trustees are very capable and are well schooled in what needs to be done.

There were many citizens who stepped forward to help me and my colleagues, trustees Kerry Dineen and Dean Whalen, when we were elected in 2005. Our motives were driven by a belief in our capabilities to implement the changes we envisioned for Altamont at the time.  Going forward, it will be that same sense of confidence in all our new and current trustees, no matter how short or long their terms, that will ensure the kind of continuity that will make for a smooth transition to a new administrative structure.

Your elected officials have worked very hard in the last 12 years to promote the benefits of our village and its history. We acted aggressively on improving the disorganized archives, mounted over 20 exhibits on our history, and developed several programs to engage our community in conversations about the importance of our historical and cultural roots.

We have engaged in a targeted program to improve our streets and public spaces, and launched programs and events in our parks that have drawn Capital Region residents to our village. We reclaimed green space to create Schilling Park, its gardens, labyrinth, and tot play ground, as well as invested in the long-term development of the Crounse House property with the town of Guilderland.

We have established a well-run and publicly responsive police, fire, and public-works departments of which we should be very proud. We have secured grants to supplement our Public Works budget to increase our sidewalks, and solicited grants for historical projects, and recently received a state grant for $100,000 secured through Senator George Amedore to help us accelerate our fire department equipment purchases.

We have sustained support for our senior citizens and kept services intact even through the worst years of financial crises while maintaining little or no increase in taxes. We maintain a secure and safe water supply and built a new sewer-processing plant. We successfully annexed property into the village, increasing our tax base. We successfully defended lawsuits against our police and fire departments’ policies and procedures.

We established a cooperative decision-making structure, are very open to community input, and instituted effective communication structures: periodic newsletters, meetings on public TV, information online, regular reports to the media, and countless meetings throughout the region to gain support from our elected legislators.

Our proposed Museum in the Streets project is a first for the area, and I believe it will draw more interest to our village and businesses as visitors and students come to learn about our important history.

Our village board has worked to enhance business opportunity in the village, and seeks to encourage our current businesses to thrive. We have been supportive of education and of our library, especially during the threats to close the elementary school, and throughout the decade of fundraising for the library that resulted in local and state commendations for the train-station restoration.

Other local communities look to us as a standard for what a community should be. We constantly remind the larger municipalities that we, although the smallest, do have importance and are a critical part of the county’s success.

Altamont is well known for its feeling of place and community for sure, but it is admired for its responsive and effective government as well.  All this has been accomplished because of you, your work, and your support.  You should be very proud of what you have accomplished.

Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor Kerry Dineen has decided to run for mayor in the March election, promising to help transition our new trustees and support our veteran trustees and staff so that our established initiatives as well as new initiatives and programs can continue. Trustee Dean Whalen, Trustee Madeline LaMountain, and Justice James Green will run for re-election to offices they now hold, and John Scally, a member of Altamont Community Tradition, and long-time supporter of our community and its cultural history, will be running as a new trustee.

I hope that you will join me and support these candidates, and especially Ms. Dineen as the first woman mayor in Altamont’s history — a wonderful outcome as the village completes its 125th year!  She will provide the day-to-day leadership of the village as your next mayor and will ensure there is a smooth transition plan for our future that maintains the good work that has been accomplished during the last decade.

In the meantime, please consider joining us at our budget workshops in late February and March, the dates of which are posted on the village message board and on our website. I am looking forward to working with our staff and you to develop a strong budget for 2017-18, and to help with a transition to a new administration in March.

To quote former President Barack Obama, “... when ordinary people get engaged, pay attention, learn about the forces that affect their lives, and are able to join up with others, good stuff happens.”

If you want to read this or past Mayor’s Notes, you can find them on the village website: AltamontVillage.org.  You also may call me at the Village office (518) 861-8554, ext.10 or email me at altamontmayor@aol.com.

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