Albany County issues

With primaries on Sept. 10, The Enterprise developed this list of issues for candidates to share their views on:

— Heroin: Last November, Guilderland Chief of Police Carol Lawlor said that, in the past year-and-a-half, there were 17 heroin overdoses in town, and seven of them were fatal.

Christian Clark, superintendent of the Albany County Correctional Facility, said that, since 2013, he has seen a marked increase in the use of heroin. “It’s inexpensive and a lot of people are turning to it,” he said. “We are seeing an increase of folks who are coming in with heroin dependency or charges with selling or using heroin.”

The Albany County jail offers methadone treatment for heroin addicts but the problem isn’t solved just by giving them methadone in jail. The facility has about 800 inmates at any given time and, Clark said, nearly 7,000 over the past year. Because the average stay in the county jail is 30 days, Clark said, the facility’s staff has no way of tracking inmates’ long-term health.

What should the county do to stem the heroin epidemic and to prevent addicts’ recidivism?

— Consolidation: Earlier this year, a study collected data of highway services and workers throughout the county’s 19 municipalities; most of the highway facilities visited were aging and, in many cases, the location of town or village garages were within five miles of a station for the county’s Department of Public Works.

What, if anything, should be done, and when and how, to share services and resources?

— Suburban poverty: Last year, 15 percent of Guilderland students come from poverty; that’s up from 5 percent seven years ago. Suburban poverty is more hidden than urban and rural poverty, and because of the spread-out nature of suburbs, often without public transportation, it is difficult for poor suburbanites to access centered city services.

What is being or should be done in Albany County to help the suburban poor?

— Veterans: A disproportionate number of United States veterans have post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and substance abuse problems just a disproportionate number of homeless people in America area veterans In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about one in 10 returning soldiers seen by Veterans Affairs has a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

Last year, Jack Downey, the founder of Soldier On, which helps homeless veterans and veterans who are addicts with housing and peer-run programs, proposed a facility for Albany county.

What progress has been made and what else should the county be doing to help struggling veterans?

Care for the elderly: While the county’s nursing home has been the subject of debate in previous elections, this year’s focus has been on the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program, which is meant to provide stay-in-place help for elderly county residents who others would have to go to a facility. Daniel McCoy’s predecessor suggested doing away with the county’s nursing home in favor of home care.

Daniel Egan has claimed McCoy twice did not spend the budgeted amount for the program, keeping 147 elderly residents on a waiting list while 39 of them died.

What is the best way to care for the elderly in need and how should the program be administered?

— Minimum wage: Statewide, minimum wage will increase on Dec. 31 from $8.75 to $9 an hour. The State Wage Board has recommended that, by 2021, minimum wage for fast-food workers be increased to $15 per hour. Last year, Senate Democrats backed a bill to let local governments set their own minimum wages.

Do you support this — why or why not — and what should the minimum wage in Albany County be?

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