Members of New Scotland Democratic Committee face primary challenges

Enterprise file photo — H. Rose Schneider

On the job: Albany County Legislator Vicky Plotsky, at right, talks in the hall outside the Albany County legislative chambers after a public hearing, in May, for the proposed Paid Sick Leave Act. Plotsky recruited seven challengers to run against incumbents on the New Scotland Democratic Committee.

NEW SCOTLAND — In perhaps, the first-ever primary for the New Scotland Democratic Committee, a group of challengers recruited by Vicky Plotsky, who represents 38th District in the Albany County Legislature, are looking to ride the continuously cresting anti-incumbent wave in place since Donald Trump’s election as president.

Because of her job, as a lawyer with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board, Plotsky told The Enterprise she can’t run for a seat on the New Scotland Democratic committee.

The committee is the local Democratic Party apparatus that registers and educates voters, and works to elect candidates to office.

The primary will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13, and registered Democrats in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7, will be asked to vote for two representatives to the New Scotland Democratic committee. 

[Zoom in to Albany County's interactive map to find your district.]

The Enterprise asked each candidate a series of questions about party politics and issues facing the town. Ashley Cootware, an incumbent, and Leslie Hatfield, a challenger, could not be reached. Douglas Miller could not be reached for a follow-up interview.

In last year’s Democratic primary, in her first bid for office, Plotsky, running on a platform of reform, thumped incumbent Darrell Duncan by 50 points; about 71 percent to 19 percent. A combined vote of the Bethlehem and New Scotland Democratic committees had backed Duncan. She then cruised to a victory over Republican Timothy Stanton in the general election.

After her decisive 2017 primary win, Plotsky described the election results as a “wake-up call to the Democratic committee.”

New Scotland has 6,384 registered voters: 38 percent are Democrats (2,432); 24 percent are Republicans (1,575); and 27 percent (1,743) are not affiliated with a party.

The rest of New Scotland’s registered voters are enrolled in small parties: 382 with the Independence Party; 211 Conservatives; 18 are registered with the Green Party; 16 with the Working Families Party; and six are Libertarians, according to 2017 figures from the Albany County Board of Elections.

The group of challengers are, for the most part, new to politics.

Lisa Williams, of Clarksville, who worked on Plotsky’s campaign, told The Enterprise, “Since then, I just want to get more involved.”

The challengers all offered a similar pitch to Democratic voters: Fresh eyes, new blood — the need for change.

The committee’s incumbents say they’ve continually put Democrats in office, and made New Scotland a Democratic stronghold.

“We’ve always gotten the Democrats in there,” said Douglas Miller, the committee’s chairman.

Miller said the committee has “done a good job for a long time.”

The old order, according to Herbert Reilly, a committee member, was that Democrats had the cities and Hilltowns, while Republicans ruled the suburbs. “We broke the mold, really. We ended up being the very first suburban town to go Democratic,” he said.

A Republican hasn’t won a seat on the town council since 2009, when current supervisor and then-Republican, Douglas LaGrange, was re-elected. LaGrange is now a Democrat.

A grassroots movement opposed to a proposal for a Target-anchored mall in New Scotland had led to the Democrats eventually having enough seats on the town board to bar big-box development.

“You have to understand, when I first ran, in 1975, I could probably count the number of Democrats [in New Scotland] on one hand ...,” said Reilly. “The Democrats hadn’t won anything for years. I mean, I’m talking back into the 1920s.”

Both the challengers and incumbents on the committee all seem to agree with the proposed comprehensive plan’s vision for preserving the town’s open space and maintaining its rural character.

While the recent housing that has been built in town has been more expensive than existing stock, some of the candidates stated that New Scotland’s existing housing stock is quite affordable. A few pointed out was the need for affordable senior housing.

“One of my chief concerns is the inability of our aging residents to remain in the town or village, where they’ve spent their lives,” said Holly Cargill-Cramer, an incumbent committee member,“because they can no longer care for a single family home, and there’s no affordable housing options for them.”

Aside from biographical information, The Enterprise asked candidates these questions:

— What’s your pitch to other New Scotland Democrats, why should they vote for you?

— What attributes, skills, etc., would you bring to the New Scotland Democratic Party that your challengers may not?

— How long have you been on the committee, if applicable?

— What is your background in Democratic politics?

— As someone who would be deciding which candidates receive party backing, what are some of the issues facing the town that you see Democrats better suited to take on?

— The most recent housing that has been built in town has been more expensive than the existing housing stock, is that an issue? Will families that have been here for generations soon not be able to afford to live in New Scotland?

— The comprehensive plan makes a recommendation to create an office of economic development; what kind of businesses would you like to see the town to recruit to move in and set up shop?

— Do you agree with the national Democratic Party’s shift further to the left?

— Favorite historical Democrat?

— Favorite current or recent Democrat?


Click on a name to jump to a candidate's profile.

District 1: Lee GreensteinHolly Cargill-Cramer, Douglas LaGrange.

District 2:  Lisa WilliamsSusan Derda, Carol Cootware.

District 3: Daniel Leinung, Kim Verner.

District 7: Herbert Reilly, Caleb WistarStacey Whiteley.



Lee Greenstein

District 1

Lee Greenstein, who has not served on the Democratic committee before, said, “I want to devote some time to the community. I want to preserve the open spaces. My wife and I spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and biking.”

Greenstein, an attorney, has a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany and a Greensteinjuris doctor, Hofstra University. He has lived in New Scotland for two years. He and his wife, Amy, have three children.

He said he plans “to be as active as possible getting neighbors and friends involved in the party and making them aware of the issues … Just trying to get people engaged.”

He also said, “I do not have much of a background of being involved in local politics.”  

Asked about the issues that would be important to him when choosing candidates, Greenstein said, “I guess, the way I see things, it’s largely preserving the beauty that we have and having responsible growth that’s good for businesses, and brings in businesses, and adds to the tax base.”

Greenstein said he has not heard that affordability is a problem. “If you look around, there’s a lot of stock in terms of more modest-price houses that are available,” he said.

Greenstein said he doesn’t see a problem if people can afford to build big homes. “It just seems like a plus for an area with some room to grow,” he said.

About the sort of economic development he’d like to see, Greenstein said, “I think, any businesses that could market itself and do well in the area would be welcome.”

Greenstein would not answer the question about whether he agreed with the national Democratic Party’s shift to the left.

“I just don’t think that it is ever going to play into my job as a committeeman, and the reason I want to get involved,” Greenstein said. “So I just don’t see the benefit in discussing or promoting that as part of me trying to be a committeeperson.”

Bill Bradley is his favorite historic Democrat and Barack Obama his favorite modern Democrat.



Holly Cargill-Cramer

District 1

Holly Cargill-Cramer has been on the Democratic committee for a few months.

“I am a proponent of the position of the Democratic Party in the town of New Scotland, in the county of Albany, and across the state of New York, and happy to run and represent those those positions as best as I can,” she said.

Asked about the attributes she brings to the committee, Cargill-Cramer said, “I’m a professed bleeding-heart liberal.”

“I practice radical candor,” she said. “If I have a position, I don’t hold back; I’m going to make my my thoughts known — regardless of their popularity.”

Cargill-Cramer, who has a bachelor’s degree from The College of Saint Rose, is the executive director of Tech Valley Center of Gravity, a not-for-profit organization serving the creative community and a manufacturing-business incubator. She is a lifelong New Scotland resident. She and her husband, Robert, have two daughters.

Cargill-Cramer has been an election inspector for about 25 years, “if that's considered politics.”

“That’s probably the extent of it,” she said of her political involvement, “other than being vocal in my regular activities and conversations about what my position is.”

“I bring to the discussion a historical perspective, with progressive ideas,” said Cargill-Cramer, who has lived in New Scotland nearly all her life.

About affordable housing, Cargill-Cramer said, “I believe that’s something that should be available to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

She went on, “One of my chief concerns is the inability of our aging residents to remain in the town or village, where they’ve spent their lives because they can no longer care for a single family home, and there’s no affordable housing options for them.”

She said that clustered housing, like in the New Scotland hamlet plan, is one option for more affordable senior housing.

About the businesses she’d like to see in town, Cargill-Cramer said, “I would like to see us foster a climate of creativity and innovation, in our town with multiple small businesses and retailers — in the creative economy.”

Cargill-Cramer said she’d also like to see updated zoning to help local businesses.

When asked if she agreed with the national Democratic Party’s shift to the left, she said,“I’m absolutely a progressive but ‘common sense’ is the watch phrase. You can’t apply the same the same rules to every situation; you have to be able to weigh the situation and decide what the wisest thing is, for all involved.”

Bella Abzug is her favorite historical Democrat and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are her favorite modern Democrats.




Douglas LaGrange

District 1

Douglas LaGrange said that he will work just as hard for the committee whether or not he is voted back in. “I will do whatever is needed to help the committee regardless,” he said.

He has been on the committee since the beginning of the year. He listed among his attributes as a committeeman, “work ethic; getting out and doing the things we need to do.”

LaGrange, New Scotland’s town supervisor since 2015, is a retired dairy farmer. He has an associate’s degree, State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill.

He is a lifelong resident of New Scotland, where his family has lived for eight generations. He and his wife, Anita, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

LaGrange noted that he’d been involved with the Democratic Party even when he was previously a member of the Independence Party.

LaGrange enrolled as a Democrat about three years ago, he said; about 10 years ago, he became a member of the Independence Party, and before that he was a Republican. “Even as an Independence Party member, I was was an active participant in the functions of the Democratic Party,” he said.

Asked about the issues that are important to him when deciding on candidates, LaGrange said the town board is already taking on a lot of the issues that face New Scotland. “We have gone a long way in answering the requests of the community to get our zoning straight for the big-box area — that was the biggest thing,” LaGrange said. “We’re getting the comprehensive plan updated; we’re looking to finish that up.”

“We want to be sure that any development that comes in — this is the key to the whole thing — is structured and done in a way that it's going to benefit all of us, not just developers,” he said.

“Those are our focuses; it’s not like the Democratic and Republican lines that are drawn on a federal level,” LaGrange said. “We’re here to pave the road, pick up the garbage, and make sure that our town develops in a planned way with what development comes in.”

LaGrange pointed out that, yes, the new homes in town are more expensive; however, New Scotland is “extremely diverse” in its existing housing stock, he said.

“We’ve done a great job with the New Scotland Hamlet Plan, to be able to design how that [development] happens,” he said. “And, in other areas, I don’t think we have the infrastructure that’s going to draw a tremendous amount of development. I just don’t see it.”

Asked about the kind of businesses he’d like to see in town, LaGrange said, “Well, obviously, we have a need for more places for people to eat.” Other than that, he said, it’s up to the businesses — which have parameters to go by because of the hamlet plan — to decide if New Scotland’s residents have a need or desire for their services or products.

Asked about the national Democratic Party’s shift further to the left, LaGrange said, “Again, I don’t get heavy into the politics on a national level. Like I said, we’re here to pick up the garbage, pave the roads, and plan for the community,” LaGrange said. “I think, both parties are getting too far split in the way they address things. I think there’s a lot of us that are that are more in the middle,” who could become alienated.

John F. Kennedy is LaGrange’s favorite historic Democrat and Congressman Paul Tonko is his favorite current Democrat.




Lisa Williams

District 2

Lisa Williams, who has not served on the Democratic committee, said, “I want to be involved, hands on, in helping to make changes that are positive for the town in Scotland.”

She went on, “I think that all the Democrats, in general, whoever’s elected, we’ll all do a pretty good job.” But it’s her hope, because she is a Clarksville resident, to be a voice for her area of town.

Williams is a legal affairs specialist for the Department of State’s Office of Administrative Hearings. She has a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and is currently working on master’s degree. She is married to Anne Mellody, and has lived in New Scotland for 11 years.

Williams volunteered on Vicky Plotsky’s campaign for the Albany County Legislature, she said.

Asked what issues are important to her in choosing candidates, Williams said, “Just changes, just to put us on the map, just to get us up to speed with what’s happening, and get Clarksville more involved with changes that may come along — so that people know we are there.”

About housing affordability, Williams said, “That’s definitely a concern, and, if elected — and now — I’m just trying to find out more about it and what can we do — what we can do as a town, as a whole, to get input into, and see what can be done.”

“I’m not very strong in that, right now,” Williams said, of the comprehensive plan. But when it was pointed out what was entailed in the plan, she agreed that the town needed a few more restaurants, and her part of town, Clarksville, needed a new convenience store, after the Qwix Mart closed recently.

Williams said she “definitely” agrees with the national Democratic Party’s shift, but added, “I would  like to see the town, as a whole, come more together.” As a Clarkesville resident for 11 years, she said that she did not know her neighbors that well, but added, that’s also why she is running.

Bill Clinton is her favorite historical Democrat and Barack Obama her favorite current Democrat.




Susan Derda

District 2

Susan Dedra, who has not been on the Democratic committee, said she’s running because the committee needs “to be a little more progressive.”

Derda went on, “I have lived in the community for 35 years, and I have seen a move to a more progressive stance. I know that there are some people who want to be more centrist because they don’t want to alienate the centrist voters. But I am seeing, even at the local level, as I go door to door, people favoring more affordable health care and favoring protecting the rights of more vulnerable populations.”

“Logistics is pretty much what a committee member does,” Derda said. “We’re not the folks on the poster; we’re the people who get the posters to the places they need to be.”

Derda said that she excels at the logistics of campaigning, and, is Derdareadily willing and able to do so.

Derda has retired from a career in education; she had worked as a teacher, a school principal, and a nurse. She has an associate’s degree from Hudson Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and two master’s degrees. She is a widow, who now has a partner, and no children.

“Frankly, this is this is my first active involvement in real Democratic politics,” Derda said, other than supporting candidates through donations, stuffing envelopes, and door knocking.

Asked about what issues she would consider most important in choosing candidates, Derda said, “A lot of my work is with vulnerable populations,” the elderly mainly. Her concern is that the vulnerable populations could become disenfranchised, because they are no longer able to drive, or a local polling station has closed. “Can we make sure they get absentee ballots; can we get someone to drive them to the polls,” she said.

Derda said that elderly homeowners and residents in smaller housing are less likely to be priced out of their homes because many take advantage of the state’s School Tax Relief Program, known as STAR, which reduces school district property taxes.

said. “We like seeing the additional tax base, because we have Derda“You know, we’re good,” STAR, and enhanced STAR. So, our taxes aren’t really killing us and newer homes will certainly make a difference.

Derda doesn’t see families being pushed out; she sees a glut of expensive housing coming.

“I look at some of those big McMansion kinds of houses that are all over Delmar and Slingerlands, and I think to myself, ‘OK, those people bought their houses in their 40s and 50s and now they are reaching their 60s, and they would like to downsize because their kids are gone and they’ve got these giant houses.’ Who’s going to buy them?” Derda asks. “There aren’t enough millennials with the kind of money or interest in buying those homes.”

“So it’s the opposite of what you just said,” Derda said, responding to the question of families soon not being able to afford to live in New Scotland.

About the kind of businesses she’d like to see in town, Derda said, “I would rather see smaller places, perhaps service-based places.” She named services that the town’s aging population might need, like cleaning services, yard-work services, senior-care services, or handyman services.

Asked her views on the national Democratic Party’s shift to the left, Derda said, “I think it’s pretty obvious to you that I’ve been pretty far to the left most of my life. But I understand the need for a more centrist view.”

Getting people in the “tent,” Derda said, has been more difficult for Democrats than Republicans.

“Republicans stay on message, they have their message, that’s their message, and if you don’t like that message,” she said, then too bad. The problem for Democrats, she said, is that they are so inclusive that coming up with a single message can become difficult.

Ted Kennedy is her favorite historical Democrat and Barack Obama is her favorite current Democrat.




Carol Cootware

District 2

Carol Cootware has represented District 2 on the Democratic committee since 1991.

The committee has worked, and been successful, getting Democrats elected in town, Cootware said; she’d continue that work.

A lifelong resident of New Scotland, Cootware has retired from her 20-year career working for the town. She has a high school education and is widowed with two children.

Cootware said that she’s knocked on doors and handed out literature for candidates for local office.

Asked what issue are important to her in deciding on candidates, Cootware said that she didn’t really see any issues, and said of the current Democrats running the town,“I think they’re doing a good job.”

Cootware, like most of the candidates, agreed that more needs to be done about senior housing.

Asked about the businesses she’d like to see in town, Cootware said, “I really haven’t given that much thought. I don’t think, I can really comment on that.”

Cootware agrees with the direction that the national Democratic Party has taken.

Herb Reilly is her favorite historic Democrat. Asked about her favorite current Democrat, Cootware said, “I think they’re all excellent right now.”



Daniel Leinung

District 3

Daniel Leinung, who has been on the Democratic committee for four years, said that the main function of a committee member is to help get other Democrats elected.

“So I think I’ve been pretty active in that respect … Whether that’s going out and getting signatures, or providing support for candidates, or getting their name out there by knocking on doors,” Leinung said, noting that he’s done all of those things, which, in turn, has helped him. Every elected office in New Scotland is held by Democrats, including Leinung’s; he has been on the town board since 2017.

“You know, when Laurie [Ten Eyck] ran, in 2016, I was out there knocking on doors for her, and that helped me when I ran as a candidate as well, he said.

Leinung, who works as an associate counsel at New York State Senate, has a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and a Leinungjuris doctor from Albany Law School. He has lived in New Scotland for five years. He and his wife, Kellie, have one child with another on the way.

Asked about his skills as a committee member, Leinung said, “We can’t really rest on our laurels. Even though New Scotland has been pretty Democratic, it hasn’t always been that way.” He plans to continue the work that has put nearly all Democrats into town offices for the past decade.

Leinung said he took a traditional path to Democratic politics: About five years ago, he reached out to the chair of the party — at the time, it was Mike Mackey — and told him that he’d like to be involved. Since then, Leinung said, he’s been involved in every activity the committee does — phone banking, doorknocking, and petitioning, to name a few.

About the issues he thinks are important in choosing a candidate, Leinung said that planning has been a major issue and one that the current town board is taking on. The board passed the New Scotland Hamlet rezoning earlier this summer.

“Now we’re working on the comprehensive plan, making sure we have a plan for how we want future development to happen in the town — I think that’s the biggest, overarching issue,” Leinung said. “And, I don’t think that it necessarily breaks down over Democrat-Republican lines, as we’ve seen in the past.” He said that the Democratic committee is “pretty squarely behind” the proposed comprehensive plan.

Asked about housing affordability, Leinung said, “That’s actually something in the comprehensive plan.” He explained that, as the development process unfolds, affordable housing should be given consideration. In addition, the plan allows for more clustered development, which can make housing more affordable.

Leinung points out that a lot of the current housing stock is affordable already. “Go into Voorheesville; there’s there’s a bunch of houses; I see new families moving in there all the time,” he said. “You can buy a single-family house in Voorheesville for a little over $200,000.” There is also existing housing in Feura Bush and Clarksville, he added.

Leinung acknowledged that New Scotland lacks commercial and professional office space, which makes it difficult to attract businesses. But, he said, the aim of the New Scotland Hamlet rezoning plan was to allow for more mixed-use development, which, he said, could attract smaller companies to the area.

Leinung said he is “pretty comfortable” with the way that the Democratic party is moving on the national level. “I think, we just have to do a better job of articulating what Democratic principles stand for.”

He named two favorite historical Democrats: Martin Van Buren, because they share the same hometown, Kinderhook, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Barack Obama is his favorite current Democrat.




Kim Verner

District 3

Kim Verner, who is new to town politics, said her reason for running is because “new eyes, new agendas, new ways of doing things are always helpful.”

She went on, “I’ve been in the town of New Scotland for about 19 years now, so I’m bringing fresh eyes to what’s going on as the community changes, yet I’ve been here long enough to have seen quite a bit.”

Verner, an attorney, has a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany and a juris doctor from Vermont Law School. She and her husband, Arthur, have two children.

“I’m an elder law and special-needs planning attorney,” Verner said. “I look at things from an advocate perspective; looking at the rights and the needs of everyone in a community ... So I think I bring a different perspective of looking at what we need to support everyone in that community.”

Verner has volunteered on one presidential campaign.

On what issues would be important to her when deciding on candidates, she said, “I think, living at Clarksville, I have the perspective of making sure that each individual sort of subcommunity is represented.” Her children were attending the Clarksville Elementary School when it was shuttered, she said, “So, we’re still pretty sensitive to how our hamlet and how the different subcommunities in New Scotland are treated.”

“I think, there needs to be adequate representation from all corners of the town — representing all interests,” Verner said.

There are two things, Verner said, that are happening with housing in New Scotland: New construction is bringing in more affluent families; but in some rural parts of town, property values have never recovered from the closing of the Clarksville Elementary School. “So now, I see that there’s almost two disparate sets of communities,” Verner said.

“That’s absolutely going to change the face of what’s going on in the town,” she added.

Verner said that she did not know enough about the comprehensive plan to offer an opinion on its recommendation for economic development.

When asked about the Democratic party’s shift to the left, Verner quipped, “I consider myself a moderate Democrat, which means my Republican father thinks I’m a liberal.”

She went on, “I agree with a lot of what’s happening, moving in a more progressive direction.”

Speaking about national, and some state politicians, Verner is concerned with how entrenched they’ve become. “I’m concerned about the money in the campaigns at the state and the federal level,” she said. “I think, at some point people have to become beholden to the folks who have given them the millions of dollars, as opposed to the people who are actually electing them.”

Because of those entrenched politicians, Verner said, “I think, the progressive wing is where there is the opportunity for new voices.”

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson are her favorite historical democrats and Kirsten Gillibrand and Barack Obama are her favorite current Democrats.




Herbert Reilly

District 7

Herbert Reilly, a former New Scotland supervisor and 16-year county legislator, has been on the Democratic committee for the past two years, and for two years in the 1970s.

“You have to understand, when I first ran, in 1975, I could probably count the number of Democrats [in New Scotland] on one hand ...,” Reilly said. “The Democrats hadn’t won anything for years. I mean, I’m talking back into the 1920s.”

The old order, Reilly said, was that Democrats had the cities and Hilltowns, while Republicans ruled the suburbs. “We broke the mold, really. We ended up being the very first suburban town to go Democratic.”

The owner of two funeral two homes, Reilly has a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross. He and his wife, Susan, have nine children, 31 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He has lived in New Scotland for 55 years.

Reilly won a seat on the town board in 1977 and served for a decade before becoming town supervisor

“As result of the position, I ended up building three water districts which were desperately needed, for the people in Clarksville, on Apple Blossom, and Font Grove roads — it was just tragic what they were trying to live on,” Reilly said. “Then we built the town hall, the community center, and kept the taxes down — and we won. We ended up owning every seat in the town. It was a Democrat flood, a complete slip. So that’s what we've done.”

Asked about the skills he would bring to the committee, Reilly said, “I would represent these people.” He offered an example. “They would come to me, as a community, when we were repairing, for example, Voorheesville Avenue and Main Street. The engineers see it from one point of view: Traffic moves. The people who have businesses say, ‘Look, you’re going to ruin my business; there’s no parking.’ And, I spoke to people from the county legislature. Skills like that.”

Asked about issues he considers important in choosing candidates, Reilly said that zoning is, and has been, an issue.

Reilly also said that senior housing is an issue.

When he was town supervisor, he said, an affordable senior housing project was built in Feura Bush. “There were so many people who objected to it saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to be too much traffic,’ and so on.” Reilly said. “They have to live in our community … where they could walk and get from place to place, and services are easy to get to.”

“All they want is a place to live,” where, Reilly said, “they don’t have to mow the lawns, figure out how to shovel the snow, and how to fix the roof — and affordable housing is the way to go.”

Reilly was in favor of the Saint Matthew’s project, in Voorheesville, which, he said, would have provided housing for senior citizens.

Asked about the businesses he’d like to see in town, Reilly said a service company, like an insurance business that could open up in the newly rezoned New Scotland Hamlet.

Asked if he agreed with the national party’s shift to the left, Reilly described himself as a conservative — when it came to spending other people’s money — who “always cared for the people.”

President Harry Truman is his favorite historical Democrat and State Senator Neil Breslin his favorite current Democrat.






Caleb Wistar

District 7

Caleb Wistar, who has not served on the Democratic committee, said that there are members of the committee who have been there for a long time, and there’s some need for change. “I’m looking to try and bring some new blood into the party,” he said.

“I would bring more energy to it; a new perspective on ways to do things,” Wistar said, and make the committee more responsive to locals’ needs by getting out and talking with them, and hearing what they have to say.”

Wistar, who has retired from his 30-year career with the state’s Department of Health, has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College, and master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania. He has lived in New scotland for two years. He is married with two daughters and two grandchildren.

Wistar has been volunteering for Democrats for 30 years, he said, noting that he’s volunteered for Mario Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Hillary Clinton.

Locally, Wistar worked on Vicky Plotsky’s campaign for the Albany County Legislature. And, in 2003, as a Bethlehem resident, he was part of a group that, he said, was instrumental in electing the first Democratic town supervisor in Bethlehem in about 150 years, flipping the town from a Republican stronghold to a Democratic one.

The issues at the top of his list in picking candidates, Wistar said, are preserving open space and maintaining New Scotland’s rural character.

Asked about housing affordability, Wistar said, as a former Bethlehem resident, he has seen what happens when there is too much development, but he points out that Bethlehem is about four times the size of New Scotland, in terms of population. “There’s a little bit more open space and probably a little less sensitivity to those kinds of issues that hit Bethlehem,” Wistar said of development in New Scotland. “But I think that at some point that’s going to happen.”

As someone who lives on Font Grove and Krumkill roads, he has seen firsthand the development of Hilton Road. However, he said, “There’s nothing you can really do to rein in costs at a town level. It’s not really a town responsibility.”

On economic development, Wistar said, “I think we need to attract low-impact businesses — ones that don’t have a very large footprint in terms of the environmental impact.”

However, Wistar said, Bethlehem tried to attract tech companies with the Vista Technology Campus. Monolith Solar has moved its headquarters and manufacturing to Vista Technology Campus.

But for the most part, it’s the “usual suspects” that have moved in, Wistar said, alluding to some of the Vista Technology Campus’s current tenants, such as banks and supermarkets.

Wistar does not agree with the national Democratic Party’s shift.

“I think that it can really get us into trouble because it can make a lot of independents just not show up,” he said. “It won’t energize enough Democratic Party base, and, more importantly, the suburban independents that we really need to flip the house.”

Wistar used a local example.

He said that he was recently talking with Tedra Cobb, the Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 21st District, the conservative North Country, represented by Republican Elise Stefanik.

Wistar said they discussed the difficulties of running in a district won by President Donald Trump by nearly 14 points, but had twice voted for President Obama albeit by smaller margins. “I agreed with her that you can’t go too far to the left because it’s going to be political suicide”

His favorite historic Democrat is Thomas Jefferson, and his favorite current Democrat is Barack Obama.




Stacey Whiteley

District 7

Stacey Whiteley, who has not been on the Democratic committee, is running because she feels there is “a need for fresh voices.”

“I would like to be given that opportunity, to participate in the political process,” said Whiteley. “I’m a lifelong Democrat and I think I would be a valuable part of the Democratic Committee.”

Whiteley is the managing director of legal and community services for the New York State Bar Association. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany. She and her husband, Michael, have three children. She has lived in New Scotland for 11 years.

She thinks she would “bring a new perspective” to the committee and says her work background has given her that unique perspective. “I’ve been working in the legal profession for 20 years; I’ve worked with people on both sides of the law.”

She’s been a probation officer, worked with juvenile delinquents, and worked at the Albany County Family Court.

“So I’ve seen many people in our community … who are in need of assistance and help,” Whiteley said, stressing that she sees the bigger picture.

“This is really my first foray into the political process,” Whiteley said.

Asked what issues would be important to her in choosing candidates, Whiteley said that the comprehensive plan needs to be adopted and implemented.

“I’ve read through the recommendations and they are, I think, spot on,” Whiteley said, highlighting a few: the preservation of open spaces; keeping the characteristics of the town and hamlets as they are; and providing walkable spaces as well as community areas for events.

Whiteley pointed to the comprehensive plan and how it allows different types housing, for example, two-family homes, which, she said, “Would be less in price than the McMansions that have been built.”

Asked about the businesses she’d like to see in town, Whiteley said, “This is my personal opinion … we need more retail shops.”

“It’s difficult if your child has to go to a birthday party, and you have to drive to Glenmont, or all the way out to Guilderland in order to purchase a gift,” she said. “It would be great if there were shops like that; I think, that would be a real benefit to the community.”

Commenting on the national Democratic Party’s shift, Whiteley said, “I’m more on the more progressive side of the Democratic Party.” She believes in a living wage for workers, she said, “so they don't have to have three jobs.”

Asked about her favorite historical Democrat, Whiteley said, “I haven’t really hung my hat on a politician from the past.” Her favorite current Democrat is California’s Senator Kamala Harris.






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