Viscio announces challenge to Stevens in 31st

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Nicholas Viscio, center, talks with supporters Sunday before announcing his run for Albany County Legislature. William Aylward, left, who formerly represented Altamont in the county legislature, shakes hands with Russell Pokorny, Knox assessor. The men are wearing stickers handed out by Viscio’s wife and campaign manager, Marie Viscio.

Enterprise file photo — Ron Ginsburg

Travis Stevens spoke at a gala for the Altamont Free Library in February 2014. He said he enjoys representing both Altamont and parts of the Hilltowns where he lives. He is seeking a second term in the Albany County Legislature.

ALTAMONT — On Sunday, Democrat Nicholas Viscio announced his plans to challenge Republican incumbent Travis Stevens to represent the 31st District in the Albany County Legislature.

Both men live in Knox and got their start in politics on the town board there; Stevens was serving his first term when elected to the county post in 2011 while Viscio has been on the board for 20 years.

The 31st District was redrawn before the election four years ago and now includes the village of Altamont, in Guilderland, along with parts of Berne and Knox in the Helderberg Hilltowns. In an upset victory in 2011, Stevens edged out Democrat William Aylward who had long represented Altamont.

Aylward, who has since also retired as a village trustee was on hand Sunday as Viscio made his announcement to a score of supporters who gathered at the swank wine bar and restaurant, Mio Vio, in Altamont.

“We are the furthest area from the county seat,” Viscio said, as he stood before those seated at the bar and restaurant tables. People from western Guilderland and the Hilltowns “come from the same world,” he said.

“We want open spaces,” said Viscio. “We are still deserving of what anyone else in the county gets.”

Viscio said, if elected, he would focus on the needs of the young and the elderly.

“I’m a little tired of politics being so negative,” he said. “Don’t burn bridges, learn to compromise....Cut out the drama.”

Viscio, who retired from a career overseeing video technology for the Guilderland schools, said he runs a sawmill and that three men can do the work of five on the “well-oiled machine” if they work together.

He told The Enterprise that, being a part of the legislature’s Democratic majority, he would be able to accomplish more. “You have to work with the majority,” he said. “You can’t sit back and point fingers.”

Stevens, 40, is running for a second four-year term because, he said, “I really enjoy representing our community, trying to help people out when I can.”

Asked what he was proudest of accomplishing, he said, “Getting us down to a 0-percent tax increase is one of the biggest things.”

Stevens and Hilltown Republican Deborah Busch ran four years ago on a platform of reduced spending, and both ousted incumbents in redrawn districts. The state’s tax cap law went into effect in 2012, limiting the amount municipalities could increase the levy to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

“I worked with the county executive to get more senior services on the Hill,” said Stevens, naming a meal program for the elderly. “The little things that don’t make the news stories,” he said, are also important, like recently helping an Altamont resident sort out a right-of-way issue.

Asked about goals if he is re-elected, Stevens, who works for the state in energy conservation, said, “I’m working with the sheriff, to have first responders get heavy equipment to the scene quicker...I have a pending resolution to have committee meetings recorded and posted on the county website.”

Stevens said he has no problems working with the Democratic majority. “Many of my resolutions have passed with a unanimous vote,” he said, citing his first one, which was to give local leaders formal notification of county initiatives.

Both candidates said they have family in western Guilderland and feel comfortable representing the residents there as well as in the Hilltowns where they live.

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