With starkly different views, Golden and Reidy vie to speak for District 30

 

GUILDERLAND — Two newcomers are vying to represent District 30, which covers Westmere from Route 155 to the Northway. 

This district was represented by Democrat Bryan Clenahan from 2007 until last year, when he became a Guilderland town justice, following the arrest and resignation of former town justice Richard Sherwood. 

Democrat Charles D. Cahill Jr. was appointed to fill Clenahan’s seat but is not running.

In June’s Democratic primary, Dustin Reidy decisively won against Steven Wickham, who had been the candidate selected by the Guilderland Democratic Party for District 30. Wickham has since taken over the leadership of the grassroots group Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Development. 

Peter Golden, running on the Republican and Conservative lines, is unaffiliated, while Reidy calls himself a “progressive Democrat.” Reidy is also running on the Working Families Party line.

Each of the candidates answered a series of issues-based questions outlined on the cover of this edition as well as talking about their goals, backgrounds, and reasons for running. Their responses can also be watched on video at altamontenterprise.com.

 

Peter Golden

Peter Golden is a historian, journalist, and novelist who has lived in Guilderland for 20 years. He is “not a career politician,” he said, calling his opponent  a “career political operative.”

Golden served on the Guilderland School Board for one three-year term, from 2005 to 2008, and he ran for town supervisor on the Republican line, in 2009, but was bested by long-time incumbent Democrat Ken Runion.

In 2011, Golden ran, again unsuccessfully, on the Republican line against incumbent Democrat Bryan Clenahan to represent District 30 in the Albany County Legislature.

Golden wants to represent District 30 for one reason, he said: To try to get Guilderland its fair share of the money the town pays to the county. 

Golden is running on the Republican and Conservative lines, but said that he himself is an unaffiliated as a voter. He emphasized that partisan politics should not have a place in the work of the legislature. 

Golden grew up in New Jersey, not far from New York, he says, “in a suburb very much like Guilderland,” and has lived in upstate New York for 45 years. 

He said that homelessness is a city of Albany problem that the rest of Albany County is being asked to fund. 

His problem with putting homeless people in jail, he said, is that many of them haven’t committed any crimes. “It’s hard to escape the symbolism,” he said, “of putting people in jail who haven’t done anything wrong.” 

He supports the idea of getting people off the street temporarily and into transitional housing, but he thinks that more hospital services are what is really needed. 

In Guilderland, close to 5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and 19 percent of students qualify for federally funded lunches, he said. “We have the elderly,” he said. “Who cares for them?” 

He emphasized the moral responsibility that he feels to people who are “struggling here,” in the town. 

Guilderland, with Crossgates Mall and Stuyvesant Plaza, creates “so much tax money for the county,” he said; he wants to see that money distributed more fairly. 

About emergency medical services, Golden said that perhaps the costs can be split between the county and the municipalities. 

He would like to see more more metrics, because the fairest way, he said, would be to have contributions made by usage. If one town has twice as many elderly residents who require more ambulance trips than another town, he asked, would it be fair to have them both pay the same amount? 

The straw ban for county venues has already been done, and he would not set about to change that, Golden said.

He would like to see the science, he said, that suggests that zero-carbon is possible. 

“Who supports pollution?” he asked rhetorically, before answering, “No one.” 

Golden said that supporters of green initiatives often ignore how much energy it takes to create the initiatives — for instance, to create the hardware needed for a wind farm. 

“Anything a county can do to make for less pollution in a landfill is good,” he said. 

In Massachusetts, he said, water comes in cartons like the ones that were used in the past for milk. 

Whether it’s possible to reach the state’s requirements of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and economy-wide, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Golden said, he is not sure. “If we could, that’d be great.” He questioned how realistic those goals are.

He has been speaking with small-business owners about paid sick leave, Golden said, and has been hearing that many of them already operate on a shoestring and would not be able to afford paid sick leave. 

“I don’t think it would work out well for small-business owners in Guilderland,” he said. 

He added it would also have an impact on those organizations that help people, organizations that are often cobbled together from volunteers and a few paid staff members. 

“It was a bipartisan ‘no,’” Golden said of the vote that defeated the measure. 

Golden said that the topic of helping the suburban poor is the crux of why he is running. He is running, he reiterated, because people in Guilderland receive very little for the tax money they pay to the county. 

He said there are about 3,000 people living below the poverty line in the town. “Where are their programs?” he asked. 

He referred back to the sheriff’s program of housing homeless people in an unused portion of the jail, asking pointedly, “How many people from Guilderland do we send to the jail?” 

He added, “While I’d like to help the city of Albany, I don’t think it’s our responsibility.” 

The first step in creating change, Golden said, is to make people aware of what they’re paying, and what they’re getting for it. 

He emphasized, “I’m running for the Albany County Legislature, but am running to represent Guilderland.” 

Golden believes that drug treatment is essential to treat addiction, and that incarcerating people for opioid use is “terrible, and dangerous.” 

He said that not only should pharmaceutical companies be sued, but “some of these guys should also be in jail.” Some of them, he said, have made so much money that “the fines mean nothing to them.” 

He believes the key is to start early, in high school or middle school and try to “scare kids away from this stuff,” since with opioids and heroin, addiction can happen very fast, after just a few uses. 

“The best thing is for kids to never start,” he said. 

Golden suggested bringing in speakers to talk to middle-school students, and referenced the recent television commercials that show long-time smokers discussing the harms they have suffered from smoking. 

“As a parent, you know kids are going to do things you don’t want them to,” he said. “You just don’t want them to die because of it.” 

Golden’s first step would be to look around the country and see if there are any locations that have had some success. “I would find the best programs and recreate them,” he said. 

The county’s budget is too high, Golden said. He would want the budget looked at more carefully. 

 

Dustin Reidy 

Dustin Reidy, who is running against Peter Golden to represent District 30, calls himself a “progressive Democrat” and says he has spent the last 10 years working on campaigns, learning how to “push policy forward and make the voices of people not in power more powerful.”

He first fell in love with talking to people and organizing volunteers, he said, in 2008 when he helped start the all-volunteer campaign in the Capital District, Albany for Obama. 

Reidy was born and raised in Scotia and has lived in Albany County for 20 years, the last 10 of that in Guilderland. 

On the issue of county services for the homeless, Reidy said he has toured the facility Sheriff Craig Apple has built at the Albany County Rehabilitation Center and called it “a great idea, great program.” 

If the county wants to end its problem of homelessness, Reidy said, it needs to find a way to stop people from moving in a loop from homelessness to incarceration and back again. 

The sheriff’s program would provide residents with ready access to services already in place at the jail, Reidy said. 

What can be done at the county level, Reidy said, is “continue to find grants and funding streams to support the shelters.” 

He said he believes that, at the county level, more options need to be found for Code Blue shelters. 

Reidy is in favor of moving to more full-time emergency medical services staff and expanding EMS services. 

“Folks who work for EMS work incredibly long hours, and they’re on the scene of some of the most important healthcare people are ever going to get in their lives,” he said. 

Many people here in rural areas need more EMS services, Reidy said, adding that he is not sure if it is right for municipalities to end their local services and move to county services. 

Since he believes more EMS services are needed, perhaps combinations of local and county services could work best, he said.

Reidy supports a county-wide change to making plastic straws and stirrers something that customers would need to request. 

“A huge amount of our waste comes from single-use plastics that are given out without having folks ask for them,” said Reidy. 

He supports a plastic bag ban at the state level and at the county level, he said. He supports fees for paper bags, with a carve-out, he said, for economically disadvantaged people. 

He pointed out that there are people with medical issues who absolutely need straws to be able to drink at all. 

Reidy suggested that it would be good to incentivize building or renovating with green-energy principles. He said perhaps the county could look into making apartment complexes move to green-energy principles. 

Amid global warming and climate change, he said, it is “incumbent on us in office to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, while making a positive economic impact at the same time.” 

He supported the Paid Sick Leave Act that was voted down, he said. 

He himself is a “health-care success story,” Reidy said; when he was a child, he needed to have a tumor biopsy done on his right arm. It was benign, he said, but his parents spent a lot of time and money on diagnosis, surgical options, discussions, and recovery from surgery. It was fortunate that his parents had good health care and, as small-business owners, could take time off to take him to surgeries and treatments, he said. 

Without paid sick leave, employees might need to lose wages in order to get treatment; they might come to work sick, which can spread sickness that winds up costing much more, Reidy said. 

Reidy said he would work with those who believe modifications to the bill are necessary. 

With regard to suburban poverty, Reidy said he thought strengthening walkability, including with sidewalks, is important, as is increasing transportation options. People need to be connected, he said, to the library, including students who may lack a computer or internet access. 

He would work to do all he can for students, he said, whether related to looking into improved options for after-school care or ways to ensure economically disadvantaged students have enough to eat. 

Addiction is a public health and humanitarian crisis, Reidy said; to him, the issue is personal because there have members on both sides of his family who have struggled with addiction. 

The first step would be getting out of the mindset of “arresting addicts and throwing away the key,” he said. 

The county needs to do all it can to expand treatment options, he said, including in the future helping parolees with addictions. Services need to be cheap or free and it’s important to reach out, not only to people with addictions themselves, but to their family and friends, to let them know what services are available.

It is important, at every step, to let people struggling with addiction know that they are “cared for and human and loved,” Reidy said. 

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