GOP backs two political newcomers for town board

Brian Sheridan

Brian Sheridan

Amanda Knasel

Amanda Knasel

GUILDERLAND — The Republican Party here is backing two political newcomers for November’s town board race.

Amanda Knasel and Brian Sheridan will face the victors in the June 22 Democratic primary.

Both candidates spoke to The Enterprise this week about the importance of listening to a wide variety of viewpoints in town and striving for unity.

The lone Republican on the five-member town board was defeated two years ago by Democrat Laurel Bohl.

Douglas Breakell who chairs the Guilderland Republican Committee says he has been a committee member since the town board was all Republican.

Over the last few decades, Guilderland’s enrollment, typical of suburban areas, has shifted toward the Democrats.

Not quite half of Guilderland’s roughly 23,000 registered voters are enrolled as Democrats while about a quarter are enrolled as Republicans and more than a quarter are not enrolled or belong to small parties.

“It’s about opportunity in the town,” Breakell said of this November’s race. “It’s based on differences about what those opportunities look like.”

While development is a key issue in the current Democratic primary, Breaknell said the Republicans have a different idea than the Democrats on what the town’s master plan should be.

The GOP is not fielding candidates for other offices but is putting its energies into the town board race, he said. “You’ll start seeing a full-blown campaign,” Breakell said.

The town board posts are for four years with a salary of $26,449 in 2021.


The candidates

The two candidates both work in the same office — Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics in Guilderland. Sheridan is a pediatrician and Knasel is the pediatric quality project manager.

“I take all of our projects and accreditations and make sure we meet all the criteria,” she said. Knasel enjoys getting feedback from patients, she said.

“I’ve met a lot of people in the community, and listened to their opinions,” said Knasel.

She moved to Guilderland from Kentucky in April 2014 with her husband and three children: two daughters, now ages 7 and 9, both Guilderland Elementary students, and a son, 11, now at Christian Brothers Academy.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and went back to work in 2019,” Knasel said.

If elected, she said, her biggest goal would be to get more community involvement, to get more community voices heard, “no matter what the political party.”

“We’re kind of divided now,” said Knasel.

Asked about her views on development in town, Knasel said that she’d like to bring in more development and make it an easier process for businesses.

“We have a lot of great young families,” she said, noting she wants to listen both to newcomers and to people who grew up in Guilderland and still live in town.

An enrolled Republican, Knasel was asked for her views on congressional representatives largely rallying around Donald Trump who falsely claims he won the 2020 presidential election. Knasel said it is time to move forward.

“I want to focus on the policies and not on things from the past,” she said.

Her focus at both the town and national levels is to “close the divide,” she said.

“We can work together no matter what the party is ….,” Knasel said. “We’re only a community if everybody does their part and comes together.”

She also said transparency in town government is important as is facing hard issues.

Knasel concluded by speaking about raising young children in the midst of current world views. “You hope and pray for a better future,” she said.

Asked why he was making his first run for office, Sheridan said, “The town has been through a lot. I like putting organizations together.” He said of himself and his running mate, “We can put a good plan in place to make the town better.”

Sheridan, who grew up in Rensselaer, said he always knew he wanted to be a pediatrician. After getting his medical degree in 2003 from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where he has family, he completed his residency at Albany Medical Center in 2006.

He and his wife, who grew up in Guilderland, settled in town in 2005 and he started practicing at Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics in 2006. Sheridan, at age 17, had worked at the Guilderland YMCA.

The Sheridans have two daughters: Alivia, 11, and Ciana, 7, both students at Pine Bush Elementary School.

Through his work, Sheridan said, he has come to know many families in town and he listens to their concerns.

Sheridan believes that Guilderland’s comprehensive plan has “fallen by the wayside.” He said a lot of development has happened in the 20 years since the plan was written. “I want a comprehensive plan that’s alive and breathing,” he said.

He is particularly distressed by “dilapidated buildings” in town and wonders why no one is working to fix them.

“We should be working with businesses to grow,” Sheridan said, adding, “I do it with my own business.” He is a partner at Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics.

As a town board member, Sheridan said, he would work to improve both businesses and the quality of life for residents.

When asked for his views on Republican congressional representatives largely rallying around Donald Trump who falsely claims he won the 2020 presidential election, Sheridan said he focuses on the Republican ideals of “lower taxes and not hiding decisions made.”

He called those ideals “fantastic,” and said, “I want those ideals in the town board — a sense of openness and willingness.”

Sheridan said of himself and Knasel, “We’re eagerly awaiting the election … I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we’ll work together.”

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