District 31 GOP 146 s Danz challenges incumbent Aylward

District 31
GOP’s Danz challenges incumbent Aylward

ALTAMONT — The race to represent western Guilderland in the Albany County Legislature is on.

Republicans have asked long-time Gardner Road resident and local businessman Ted Danz to run on their ticket and Democratic incumbent William Aylward will be seeking his third four-year term on the Dems’ line.

Now that some of his five children have taken on a share of the work at the business he founded, Family Danz Heating and Air Conditioning, Danz, a political newcomer at the age of 60, has time to give back to the community, he said.

Aylward, 72, of Altamont, began his political career in the 1970s, when he became the mayor of Altamont. The retired Guilderland social studies teacher has been the Guilderland supervisor and is currently on Altamont’s board of trustees.
"It’s getting so expensive to live out here," said Danz of the biggest issues facing the county in the coming years. "The taxes are number one, number two, and number three," on his agenda, he said.

Making his announcement on Terry Seery’s front lawn, Danz appealed to the tax conscious.

When Seery bought his Altamont home 13 years ago, he said, it was assessed at $164,000. And he knows it was 13 years ago because the day he and his wife moved in was the first time his now 12-year-old daughter kicked, in utero.

Now, with a full fledged, yellow-school-bus-riding daughter, his house is assessed at $280,000, he said, and he wants a representative who will work to make living in the area more affordable.

Taking a different tack, Aylward announced his bid for re-election by bringing in a letter to The Enterprise editor. The week before he brought in a letter opposing the federal plan to shut down the local Farm Services Bureau. Aylward supports offering government programs to county residents.
"The nursing home is a big issue for me," Aylward said when asked about the major issues facing the legislature in the next term.
In 2006, the Berger Commission, a panel put together by former Governor George Pataki and the state legislature to evaluate health care in New York, recommended that the Albany County Nursing Home and the Ann Lee Infirmary be rebuilt into a "unified facility," and reduced by 345 beds.

One year earlier, the Albany County Legislature spent $750,000 to develop a plan for a new nursing home, Aylward said. That home was slated to house 450 beds, he said; a plan which he thinks is superior to the Berger Commission’s mandate.
"It defies reality," he said of the commission’s plan. With the aging baby boomers, there will be a need for more beds, not fewer, he said.

As it is now, with the executive’s moratorium on accepting new applicants to the county’s nursing home, some residents are getting sent out of the county, and even out of the state, for care.
Of his vote supporting the county executive’s plan to abide by the 250-bed recommendation, Aylward said, "I voted because I felt that we needed to move forward and I didn’t want to be an obstruction."

Danz cites the Democratic majority as one of the problems with the legislature — of the 39 seats, 29 are held by Democrats and the county executive, Michael Breslin, is a Democrat.
"We’re not getting a good representation and good balance in the government," Danz said. The nursing home fell into disrepair because of mismanagement stemming from politics in the legislature, he said. Careful selection of people to run the facility and careful supervision of its management are necessary for the new nursing home, he said, something that he doesn’t see happening with the current legislature.
"I’m not one of the good old boys," he said.

Another plank in his platform calls for a reduction in the number of representatives in the legislature — he’d like to see 15 or 17 rather than the current 39.

While cutting back the number of legislators looks like it will save money, Aylward doesn’t think that it would actually lower the budget since those who are left would have bigger jobs, representing more people, and they would require larger staffs. As it stands now, Albany County legislators each earn $20,298, according to the 2007 budget.

Also, constituents wouldn’t get the same quality of representation, since the districts would be bigger, Aylward said, and redistricting would likely under-represent minorities.

Both parties should work through the redistricting process together, Danz said. Done properly, it wouldn’t negatively affect representation; rather, it would improve government, he said.
"Less people involved, less of a mess," said Danz.

Both candidates see a role for the county in maintaining farmland in the rural area that District 31 encompasses.

The county’s recently adopted right-to-farm law was co-sponsored by Aylward. The law essentially protects farmers from complaints by neighboring developments. He has also supported the creation of agricultural districts in the county, Aylward said.
After a recent meeting with the Altamont Fair’s board of directors, Aylward said, local farmer Everett Rau posed an interesting question: It’s good to keep farmers on their land, but who’s going to come after them"

That’s a question Aylward would like to explore further, especially with the federal proposal to close of the Farm Service Agency office in Voorheesville, a move he has objected to.
"What message does that send to young people"" asked Aylward. "That sends a terrible message."
Danz owns rural land himself, where he has a small business boarding horses. "I’m a member of the Farm Bureau," he said.

First, said Danz, legislators have to look at how farmland is taxed. He’d like to offer tax breaks or incentives to working farms in the area. He applauded the state’s STAR (School Tax Relief) program, which offers breaks on school taxes to homeowners.

Offering incentives like that to farmers would give the local economy a boost, he said, citing the income generated by area farms like Indian Ladder and Altamont Orchards. Keeping farms like those in business also helps to maintain the character of the area, he said.
"Every time a tax goes up, you have to charge more for what you do," said Danz. "It’s Economics 101."

Saving money by sharing services among municipalities in the county is also supported by both candidates. Each cited the failed highway department merger between the town of Berne and Albany County as a good idea handled poorly. Last summer, Berne Supervisor Kevin Crosier and county officials came up with a preliminary plan to merge their highway departments in an effort to be more efficient and save money. Public opinion soon echoed the concerns of town highway workers and, by October, the plan was essentially dead.
"I think" that was premature," said Aylward, referring to the way officials proposed the plan. Government should come up with a method for implementing shared services, he said, adding that doing something as small as buying road salt in larger quantities and sharing it among municipalities can save money.
Similarly, Danz said that sharing services is a "great idea." But, he said, only "if it’s approached in the right way."

On Nov. 6, Danz will appear on the Republican and Conservative lines and Aylward will be on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families lines.

More Regional News

  • “We enter Thanksgiving week and yes, as Americans, we are thankful. We’re thankful to live in this great country and to live in this state. But with that gratitude comes a sense of responsibility to others….,” said Governor Kathy Hochul as she signed a bill on Saturday making the Nourish New York program permanent. “This war against poverty is going to continue until no child goes to bed in the State of New York with a hungry stomach, never again in our state.”

  • Albany County suffered three COVID deaths this week: a man in his seventies died on Thursday, a man in his sixties died on Friday, and a woman in her nineties died on Saturday. Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 439.

  • Figures from a year ago — Oct. 24 to Nov. 24 — before the first vaccine was authorized, show better numbers in Albany County than the same time period this year. There are 1,000 more infections and two times the number of deaths, year over year.

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