District 32: Cleary ousts Miller by 2 votes

Mickey Cleary

Mickey Cleary

GUILDERLAND — By two votes, Mickey Cleary has beaten incumbent Paul Miller in the Democratic primary to represent District 32 in the Albany County Legislature.

There is no Republican challenger for the November election. Miller, though, has the Working Families Party line and said this week that he has not yet decided if he will run.

Cleary, who has the Independence Party line as well as the Democratic line, said he hopes Miller doesn’t run.

The Guilderland district covers McKownville and stretches to the area around Dr. Shaw Road.

Cleary this week described the hour-and-a-half session on July 2 where 40 absentee ballots were opened and counted. Going into the session, Cleary had a 22-vote lead, having garnered 291 votes to Miller’s 269 in the June 25 primary.

“Paul was there with his lawyer; I just had Jake,” Cleary said of Jacob Crawford, who chairs the Guilderland Democratic Committee. “It went back and forth … Paul got 30, I got 10, so I won by 2 … Every vote counts.”

The final tally, confirmed by the Albany County Board of Elections, is: 299 to 301. 

Cleary went on, “Paul called me and congratulated me afterward … The whole election, Paul was great.”

Cleary added of the possibility of Miller running in November on the Working Families Party line, “My hope is he doesn’t run. The Democrats have spoken.”

The race pitted two Guilderland natives against each other. Cleary, 57, who has spent his career in public administration, works in operations for the state’s Office of Court Administration. During his campaign, Cleary said he believes drug-treatment courts are important and would like to see Albany County pursue an opiate court.

A 28-year member of Guilderland’s Democratic committee, Cleary launched his first-ever political campaign after Miller told Crawford he wouldn’t seek a second four-year term; Miller’s stepson was very ill at the time.

A short while later, after his stepson’s health had improved, Miller decided he wanted to run after all, but by then Cleary didn’t want to back down.

“At the point I called him,” Miller said of Cleary, “he said he was at the bank, setting up an account” for the campaign.

“Paul stepped down and helped me set up my campaign,” recalled Cleary this week. “I had the backing of the Democrats.”

Cleary’s campaign literature had a list of “Mickey’s Honorary Election Committee,” including prominent town and county Democrats and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy. 

Among those listed were Jack Flynn of the Albany Common Council; Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, county legislator and majority leader Dennis Feeney; and from town government: Supervisor Peter Barber, board members Pat Slavick, Paul Pastore, and Rosemary Centi; Clerk Jean Cataldo, Highway Superintendent Gregory Wier, and Receiver of Taxes Lynn Buchanan; as well as Crawford.

Cleary credits his win to shoeleather as well as Democratic backing. “I walked every day, door-to-door, and only took off two days, for my daughter’s graduation, and on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Labor Day … I didn’t want to bug people on the holidays.”

Cleary said there are 1,293 Democratic households in District 32. “I probably went to 1,200,” he said, making the rounds three times.

“We started at the end of February … In the beginning, assessment was the big thing,” Cleary said of Guilderland’s town-wide revaluation of properties, for the first time since 2005.

With coaching from Buchanan, he said, “I educated people that, if your assessment went up 40 percent, you’d still be paying the same amount in taxes.”

Cleary noted, though, that revaluation is “not a county thing.” Often, he said, he connected with voters because he was a Guilderland High School graduate who had played sports. His daughter, now 22, and his son, 24, are also Guilderland graduates. “When I met people, we connected over Little League and soccer,” he said.

Cleary, who serves on the town’s planning board, also said, “Development is a big thing … People who own property have the right to develop it within the zoning.”

Asked about his goals if he is ultimately elected to the county legislature, Cleary said, “My goal is to win in November … I want to represent my constituents.”

Miller

Miller, 65, is retired from a career with the state’s Department of Labor. He has been a volunteer with the Bethlehem Fire Department for 50 years, leads a Boy Scout troop, and is a member of the Albany County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

He was a sponsor of the recently defeated paid-sick-leave bill and voted in favor of it.

Miller ran on his record and was especially proud of three bills he sponsored, which were passed into law, to protect people from tobacco.

This past Tuesday, county legislators were embroiled in a debate over banning vaping products, another Miller-backed initiative. The bill, he said on Wednesday, is “going back to committee.” Miller hopes to get it passed before his term ends with the year.

Health organizations favored the ban, which would have been the first such county-wide ban in the state, while vape-shop owners and salespeople opposed it.

“We have some amendments,” said Miller, “to take out pipe tobacco and premier cigars,” which he said seniors enjoy.

Miller said he doesn’t yet know if he’ll launch a campaign, on the Working Families Party line, to keep his seat. “I’ll talk it over with my wife,” he said.

Miller said he had been ardent in opposing development of Sandidge Way with massive apartment complexes, just over the Guilderland town line in the city of Albany. “I went to numerous meetings of the city board and county board to oppose it … The county planning board turned it down three times but the city overrode that,” he said.

“One disappointment I had was the fire-sprinkler bill didn’t pass,” Miller said of a bill that would have required new homes to have sprinklers to suppress fire. “State law wouldn’t allow it … only towns, villages, and cities can do it.”

“I’m sure I made some enemies with Realtors and home builders,” he said but, as a long-time firefighter, he felt obligated to support the bill.

Those involved in tobacco sales didn’t like him either, Miller said.

The day after the primary, Miller noted how hard he had worked campaigning and said he was disappointed in the results.

More Guilderland News

  • Pyramid answered, for itself and the town of Guilderland, all the allegations — save one — brought against them in a suit alleging impropriety in review of  Pyramid’s Rapp Road and Western Avenue projects. The town answered the allegation that it hadn’t responded to a Freedom of Information Law request, saying the plaintiffs’ lawyer hadn’t pursued the appeal.

  • The public hearing on Pyramid’s proposed Rapp Road apartment project was kept open until Oct. 28, as one Guilderland resident questioned whether the Oct. 14 hearing should have even taken place. 

  • After two years and two lawsuits related to the project — with one suit still in progress — the Guilderland Planning Board approved Pyramid’s proposed 222-unit apartment and townhome development for Rapp Road.

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