In Guilderland: Full slate, unknown fate

GUILDERLAND — As the long-time supervisor of the town steps down after 16 years, a hotly contested race for the position shapes up, featuring two Democrats opposing each other on separate party lines.

When Kenneth Runion announced his retirement, Democratic board member Brian Forte announced his candidacy, and he interviewed with his party for the endorsement, but Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Peter Barber received the nod instead.

Forte said he was “not allowed” to interview to keep his seat on the town board and so, when Republican Party leaders approached him about running for supervisor on their ticket, he accepted.

Forte also launched a write-in campaign for the Conservative Party primary election, and won against Barber, who had been endorsed by the party. Barber is endorsed by the Independence Party.

Michele Coons and Lee Carman, who made unsuccessful runs for the town board in 2011 and 2013, respectively, will each run again for the town board on the Republican ticket.

Coons is a registered Conservative, and received endorsement from her own party in its primary, as did Carman. Each received more votes in the primary than Democrat Rosemary Centi, who had also been endorsed by the party.

Centi served as the town clerk under Runion for 13 years before she retired at the end of 2013. She decided to run for town board when Runion, who had considered running himself, announced his decision not to.

Democrat Al Maikels, current town board member, will seek re-election.

The salaries for town board members were $23,030 in 2015; the salary for town supervisor was $110,340.

Enrolled voters in Guilderland are 38 percent Democrat and 25 percent Republican; enrolled Conservatives number just 450, or 2 percent. The remaining 35 percent are enrolled in other small parties or as independents.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3


Coons                 Carman                 Forte                 Maikels                  Centi                     Barber


The issues

The Enterprise developed this list of issues for Guilderland town candidates to share their views on.

Vacant properties: In April, the town passed a local law to require accountability from the owners of vacant buildings in town. It requires either the landowner or the bank to register with the town and post a $5,000 bond to be used for the maintenance of structures on the property. It also requires the property owner to hold a minimum of $150,000 of liability insurance. Residents who take note of abandoned buildings, whether commercial or residential, are to call the town of Guilderland’s building department to report them. Under the law, property owners have 11 days from the time they are contacted by the town to register.

Do you support the local law? Should changes be made to the law to make it more effective? How should this law be enforced?

— Future development and planning: Under the Guilderland Comprehensive Plan, several neighborhood and hamlet studies have resulted in sub-plans. In some areas, such as Guilderland Center, sidewalks have been installed, and in others, such as McKownville, grants have been issued for sidewalks and updated signage.

Are there other areas that should be studied? Are there particular areas that need improvements, and if so, what are they?

Some have said that Guilderland is not a “business-friendly” town. Do you agree or disagree? What could be done to make the town more business friendly?

— Town finances: The town of Guilderland has the lowest tax rate in Albany County. Current supervisor Kenneth Runion has prided himself on keeping the tax rate flat throughout his 16-year tenure. The rate is 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

How can a new administration continue to keep the tax rate low? Are there things that need to be addressed in town that may increase the tax rate? If so, what are they?

— Renewable energy: The town spends approximately $500,000 per year on electricity. Over the past two years, the town has studied the feasibility of installing solar panels on town properties and using solar energy to reduce costs. Most of the sites proposed were found to be insufficient for solar panels.

Are there other things the town can do to reduce spending on electricity? Should the town be looking at other sources of renewable energy?

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