Shufelt the single GOP challenger in New Scotland

Craig Shufelt

Craig Shufelt

Daniel Leinung

Daniel Leinung

Adam Greenberg

Adam Greenberg

NEW SCOTLAND - The New Scotland Republican Party will have only one candidate running for town office in the upcoming fall elections, while the Democrats have a full slate.

Republican Craig A. Shufelt, who lost to Democrat Adam Greenberg by 54 votes in 2015, will make a second run for town board. Greenberg is also is up for re-election.

Democrat Daniel Leinung, a planning board member, will run for the seat Laura Ten Eyck is leaving.

Supervisor Douglas LaGrange, Town Clerk Diane Deschenes, Highway Superintendent Kenneth Guyer, and Town Justice Robert Johnson, all Democrats, are running unopposed.

Roselyn Robinson, a New Scotland Republican Committee member, speaking on behalf of the chairman, who is ill, said she is not surprised by the lack of Republican candidates. She says there is “a lot of nastiness, I see it in the city mayor’s race in Albany, and you certainly see it on the national level, and people, who first want change, they think about it and speak to their family and think ‘I don’t really want to put my name out there, and be subjected to what could be nasty campaigning.’”

Robinson says that party enrollment in New Scotland is such that there are just more Democrats than Republicans and it becomes difficult to recruit candidates. 

New Scotland has 6384 registered voters: about 38 percent are Democrats, 24 percent are Republican, and about 27 percent are not enrolled in a party; the rest are enrolled in smaller parties: 5 percent in the Independence Party and 3 percent in the Conservative Party.

The Republican Party has lost ground in recent decades in all the suburban towns around the city of Albany, always a Democratic stronghold. 

In New Scotland, a large grassroots uprising against a proposal for a Target-anchored mall further hurt Republicans, who had favored development.

Robinson says, “And getting younger candidates to run is difficult because they are busy with family. Going door to door  — which is really the way to win locally  —  during the fall, after school starts, is difficult.”

She adds, “We had quite a few people interested in running for the town board seat, but, once they got more details about what it involved and the meetings and all that, and more importantly, a lot of the elections and the climate in the nation, and locally for politics has been ugly.”

Doug Miller, chairman of the New Scotland Democratic Committee, doesn’t see the nastiness of national politics seeping into local elections. He says, “Local politics is politics. I think people, locally, know who they want and know who can do a good job.” He adds that the local Republican Party hasn’t run a lot of candidates for a number of years.

Daniel Leinung does not see the same problem that Robinson does: “Town politics affects everyday lives; the closer the government, the more it affects you,” he told The Enterprise. In a follow-up interview, Leinung added, “People I’ve talked to are getting more involved, I don’t know if they are Democrat or Republican. I’ve just seen a lot of people showing up at town meetings. And through social media, people are trying to take a more active part in their local government.”

As for why so few Republicans are running, Leuning can’t say, but he does think that voters do make associations with the national Republican party. But he also doesn’t see the polarization that is affecting national politics spilling over into local elections. He says, “It’s more about who gets the job done better.”

Shufelt also says that he does not know why there are not more Republican candidates running for office. But makes it clear that the vitriol that has defined national politics has no place in his campaign, he says: “There’s no need for it, I’m not a part of that, and we don’t play that particular game.”

He acknowledges that national party branding could influence voters, “That’s an unfortunate fact, and it’s on both sides. You have Republicans that look at Democrats in a blighted way, and you have Democrats that look at Republicans in a blighted way,” he says, adding, “My personal belief is that we’re only going to be as successful as we can be when we work as a team. And look at facts, and both side of every picture.”

Greenberg says, “I think local residents are more concerned with what you can do for the town, and they don’t relate that to what is going on on the national level.” He adds, “I work on a local level; I don’t know what the national scene means on a local level.”

Candidates

The candidates agree with a vision for the town: smart development that allows New Scotland to keep its rural charm and giving small businesses the tools they needs to flourish.

The three town-board candidates are seeking the Conservative line in the Sept. 12 primary. Conservatives who support Shufelt must write in his name as an opportunity to ballot.

Shufelt, 45, is a Voorheesville graduate who studied graphic design at Sage College of Albany and Rochester Institute of Technology. He is self-employed; his company, Shufelt Group, LLC., is a marketing, development and branding firm based in Voorheesville.

About his candidacy, he says, “I feel I am very credible from a professionalism aspect, and I’m also homegrown. I live, eat, work and breathe here…I feel I can make a difference and that’s the big thing.”

Shufelt says he will add balance and make the board a better team.

He says, “It’s a whole Democratic board right now. Right or wrong, I hate to use the term ‘Democrats vs. Republicans,’ I like to think that I am my own person. And I have many Democrats that are friends of mine and know me very well and support me, as much as Republicans. So, I don’t like to pitch one versus the other.”

On making the board a better team, he said, “Moving our town forward, if you look at any kind business practices or teamwork environment, the teams that succeed the most are the ones that are the most diversified and it’s how that diversification comes together for the betterment of all. And I think that’s where we are losing out.”

Shufelt emphasizes the benefits the community will gain by letting properly-zoned businesses set up in town. He says, “If you want to develop then help us; help us develop our community better. What are you going to do for the community that will allow your business to prosper?”

Daniel Leinung, 33, is associate counsel at the New York State Senate, focusing on health, substance abuse, and mental health policy; he previously worked for the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the Environmental Protection Bureau. Originally from Kinderhook, Leinung attended Hamilton College and Albany Law School. He and his wife, Kellie, moved to New Scotland in 2013. The couple has one child.

Leinung says that he served on a couple of different committees, helping to draft the New Scotland hamlet overlay district plan. Though not on the comprehensive planning committee, he has attended its meetings about the new master plan and how it will guide development in the town. He sees more opportunity at the town board-level to make sure those plans go through. Leinung wants to see “smart, sustainable development,” and doesn’t want the overdevelopment that has taken place in on Central Avenue in Colonie or at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland to happen in New Scotland.

Leinung emphasizes keeping New Scotland’s rural character intact. He doesn’t want to see mini-mansions built on large, two-acre lots. He says that the right development for the town is clustered, mixed-use projects with significant open space. Leinung says it will take a balance “between making sure whatever is going to be happening with the business doesn’t adversely impact the neighborhood, but at the same time allowing it to develop and move forward.”

Adam Greenberg, 49, was appointed to the town board in July of 2015 following the mid-term resignation of Daniel Mackay, and he went on to win re-election that fall, narrowly beating Shufelt.  He is a Dartmouth graduate, a farmer, a property manager, and lifelong resident of New Scotland. He previously served as the town’s zoning board of appeals chairman. He and his wife, Kate Cohen, have three children.

Greenberg says, “If you are serious about keeping the town rural, the town board needs to be proactive in terms of planning and zoning, and that means having zoning in place to define what we want in certain areas of the town.” He adds, “If government is not the voice for the public’s interest, then developers will dictate what our town looks like in the future, as opposed to the residents of the town.”

As the only incumbent in the race, Greenberg has projects he is working on that he wants to see through to fruition.  He says he has been involved in saving and moving the Hilton barn, and is now working on a grant to redo the roof, as well as working on a grant for the site plan to “get parking set up and link it the rail trail.”

As part of its merger agreement with the New York State Public Service Commission, Time Warner-Charter Communications, now known as Spectrum, agreed to extend internet service to approximately 500,000 households in New York State, rolled out in three phases. Greenberg says, “It’s critical for us to get on that list.”

Greenberg views internet access as critical for town residents and their children, “I have three kids in school, and the assumption that they have high-speed internet to do their homework … it’s just assumed by the school that you have that.” He adds, “I really don’t know how people without internet access are expected to do as well in school or at work.”

He says, “I’ve been working hard on getting internet to parts of town that are underserved; that is a major concern of mine for the next term.”

Ten Eyck Not Running

Laura Ten Eyck says she decided against running for town board due to time constraints. Responding to an email inquiry, she writes, “In January of 2017 I left my job at American Farmland Trust… and returned to work full time at my family's business, Indian Ladder Farm … This is far cry from the 9 to 5 office job I held before. In addition I am currently working on a proposal for a book. Unfortunately all this means that I no longer have enough time to dedicate to fulfill the responsibilities of Town Councilperson.”

Ten Eyck’s decision not to run was made easier when Leinung expressed interest in the seat. She writes, “The final factor that sealed my decision was the willingness of Planning Board member Daniel Leuning to run…I have so much trust and confidence in Dan. He is fully committed to our community and shares my positions on the environmental, agricultural and preservation issues that have been my priority.”

When asked if she would consider running again, Ten Eyck answered, “It was a tremendous privilege to run for office and be elected to the Town Board and a very interesting time to do so as I found myself on the same ballot with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was very interesting and enlightening being out and about talking to the voters leading up to a such a polarized election. However I do not see myself running for office again as my existing commitments do not allow me to do all of the necessary work to both run and serve in public office.”

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