Duel to replace Clenahan: Who will represent District 30?

GUILDERLAND — Charles D. Cahill Jr. is representing District 30 in the Albany County Legislature for the one year remaining in Bryan Clenahan’s term.

Clenahan left the post on the last day of 2018 to become a Guilderland town judge.

But Cahill does not plan to run to keep his seat, said Guilderland Democratic Committee Vice Chairman Dennis Feeney, who is also the majority leader of the county legislature. Meanwhile, two other residents of District 30 — first-time candidates Steven D. Wickham and Dustin M. Reidy — plan to seek the seat, which means that a primary is almost certain.

District 30 covers the part of Guilderland from Route 155 in the west to the Thruway in the east. The primary is open only to registered Democrats who live within the district.

The enrolled Democrats in District 30 account for almost one-quarter of the town’s Democrats. Townwide, Guilderland currently has 9,586 enrolled Democrats, nearly twice as many as its 5,605 Republicans. Almost 2,000 are enrolled in small parties, more than half of them in the Independence Party. About a quarter of the registered voters in town are not enrolled with any party.

The legislative district committee voted last Friday to endorse Wickham. This committee of 12 people is composed of the two members of the Guilderland Democratic Committee from each of the six election districts that make up the 30th District. There are five or six election districts in each legislative district in the town.

The process of gathering signatures will begin very soon — probably next week, said Guilderland Democratic Chairman Jacob Crawford — because of recently enacted election-reform legislation that pushes primaries, formerly held in September, forward to June.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law temporary changes for petitioners to accommodate the earlier primary; the number of signatures required has been reduced by 25 percent. The original number of signatures required for District 30 had been about 109, Crawford estimated. He added that candidates usually try to get two to three times the required  number, as a cushion against an opponent’s challenge and against duplicate signatures.

This election-reform legislation has also had delayed a vote by the Guilderland Democratic Committee on whether to change from its current caucus system to a primary system. The change is under consideration because Bryan Clenahan, the party’s choice for town judge, was challenged by the appointed judge, Christine Napierski. She took the matter to federal court, claiming the caucus system was unfair; she subsequently lost at the caucus.

Crawford said this week that a decision to change from one system to the other would need to be made at least four months before the June primary, which would be this month, and he wants to give the subcommittee investigating the matter enough time to finish its work. Crawford has no timetable now as to when the full committee will vote on the issue.

Five legislators currently represent parts of Guilderland: Paul MIller in District 32, who will be challenged in a primary this year by Michael Cleary; Mark Grimm in District 29; Feeney in District 28; Travis Stevens of Knox in District 31 that also includes parts of the Hilltowns; and Cahill in District 30.

Douglas Breakell, the head of the Republican Party in Guilderland, told The Enterprise that he did not yet wish to say who would be running on the Republican ticket for county legislator in the town, since he did not want to preempt any announcements that candidates might wish to make.

“We fully intend to be competitive in that legislative seat,” Breakell said of District 30.

Cahill fills in

Feeney said that he asked Cahill (pronounced “Cal”), 64, if he would be interested in filling out Clenahan’s term because of Cahill’s involvement with the community as a long-time member of the fire department, and because he comes from “a strong Democratic family.”

Cahill is assistant chief of the Westmere Fire Department and works part-time as a fire inspector for the town of Guilderland. His father was chairman of the Albany County Legislature many years ago.

Cahill was a member of the Guilderland Democratic Committee until a few years ago, when he became an assistant fire chief, Cahill told The Enterprise several weeks ago. The role of chief takes a lot of time and requires being able to respond at a moment’s notice, he said, and, in addition, he thought there might be some conflict of interest.

“I didn’t want anybody to feel obligated,” he said at the time, referring to collecting signatures for candidates on petitions.

Cahill could not be reached for comment this week.

Candidate Wickham

Steven D. Wickham has lived in Guilderland, in a townhouse at Presidential Estates, since 2000. He and his wife, Barbara, after meeting in San Francisco, moved back to the area to be closer to family, he said. She was raised in Delmar, and he grew up in the Oneonta and Sidney areas.

Wickham started a sole-proprietorship business while in graduate school, in chemistry. The business has evolved over time, he said, into Wickwood, LLC, which he owns as a partnership with his wife. He is the managing partner of Wickwood, LLC and, doing business as Wickwood Marketing, he works full-time providing website design, development and management services, marketing services, and consulting to clients.

He is also working on developing Wickwood Coaching and Wickwood Publishing to provide coaching and publishing services to authors who want to self-publish books.  

Wickham served on the Guilderland Conservation Advisory Council from 2009 through 2013, reviewing development applications submitted to the town to evaluate their environmental impact.

While on the council, Wickham says, he spearheaded research into and the creation of a proposal to ban the fracking processes of natural gas exploration, extraction, storage, transfer, treatment, or disposal of production wastes in Guilderland. The town board passed a fracking ban in May 2012.

Wickham was a founding member of the Guilderland Neighbors for Peace, which protested for many years, at the corners of routes 155 and 20, the deployment of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and he served until a few years ago as a steering committee member for Upper Hudson Peace Action.

He has been vice president and board director since 2013 of Blue Ribbon Campaign Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that seeks to raise public awareness of environmental issues and to preserve healthy ecosystems.

Among his top priorities are, Wickham said: climate change and protecting the environment with programs to promote solar power; geothermal heating, and reducing, reusing, and recycling; social issues such as paid sick-leave legislation, “if it does not pass this term”; programs to help address the opioid epidemic; and development of super-high-speed publicly-owned internet; tax reform to make sure corporations pay their fair share; and campaign finance reform.

Candidate Reidy

Dustin M. Reidy, 39, was born and raised in Scotia. After graduating from Skidmore College, he moved to the Capital District and worked in healthcare for about five years. His wife, Maureen “Moe” Casale-Reidy, is a Troy native and is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany.

The couple moved to Guilderland in 2008. They both love the Capital District, Reidy said.

For the past 10 years, Reidy has worked in issue advocacy and has helped manage and run voter outreach and election campaigns. In 2008, he helped start Albany for Obama, an all-volunteer campaign for Barack Obama that helped get out the vote in New York and across the country in both the primary and general elections.  

“I fell in love with talking to voters, teaching volunteers, putting together outreach strategies and building a team,” Reidy wrote in an email. “I've spent time outside of NY working across the country in states such as Iowa, Texas, and Connecticut and I've worked for Planned Parenthood and AccessHealthCT (Connecticut's ACA state health insurance marketplace). In New York I've worked for the Alliance for Quality Education and Change to Win, a union federation.”

Over the past two years, Reidy said, he has been able to work on the project he has been the most proud of — NY19Votes. He founded NY19Votes after the 2016 election to help bring together and train new activists that formed through the Women’s March and Indivisible movement.

The goal of NY19Votes was to show these new volunteers and groups how to talk to voters and win elections at the local and state levels while laying the groundwork to replace John Faso, a Republican representing New York’s 19th Congressional District from 2017 to 2019. “We were a big part of helping Antonio Delgado win in November and helped make NY19 the only predominantly rural congressional district that flipped in the midterm elections,” said Reidy.

Reidy served as campaign manager to Democrat Pat Strong in her unsuccessful bid last year to unseat Republican incumbent George Amedore in the State Senate’s District 46. In her first political race, Strong wound up getting 42 percent of the vote, to Amedore’s 55 percent. Strong carried Guilderland.

Reidy wrote, “I hope by bringing my experience in communicating with voters, forging coalitions and bringing new energy into the legislature I can make Guilderland and Albany County a better place to live.”

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