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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 11, 2007

In New Scotland
Campaign issues focus on growth

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – As this still-rural town faces increased development pressure, issues this election season center on how growth should be handled and the role the public should play in planning for the town’s future.

Candidates from both major political parties are competing for the post of town supervisor and for two town board seats.

The town board is mixed politically. Currently, it is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans.

Supervisor Ed Clark, who ran as a Republican, is retiring after six years in office.

The New Scotland Democratic Team, as the Democratic candidates refer to themselves, includes Thomas Dolin, who is running for supervisor; and Richard Reilly and Deborah Baron, who are both running for re-election to the town board.

The Republican candidates, who refer to themselves as Team New Scotland (www.teamnewscotland.com), include Councilman Douglas LaGrange, who is running for supervisor, and Charles Voss and Gary Schultz, who are running for town board.

Town board members serve four-year terms, and are each paid an annual salary of $7,404. The supervisor makes an annual salary of $52,935 and serves for a two-year term.

According to the Albany County Board of Elections, the town of New Scotland is politically divided, roughly, into thirds — 35 percent of registered voters are enrolled as Democrats, 29 percent are enrolled as Republicans, and nearly 36 percent of voters are not enrolled in a political party. Less than 1 percent of voters are enrolled in one of the small parties.

Town issues

Each of the six candidates was asked questions on the following issues:

— Public water: Access to municipal water is a continuing problem in town. What course, if any, should the town take to provide public water to New Scotland residents"

— Zoning: How does the town’s zoning need to be adjusted to better plan for current and future needs" How might the town address the need for affordable housing"

— Public input: How have the recommendations made in 2005 by the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee been considered and used by the town" How might they be considered in the future" Is this type of public consensus beneficial to the town" Would you advocate the development of other committees in town to solicit community input to aid in the planning process"

— Planning: Through the public hearings regarding the senior overlay district, the process for planning came into question. How should that process work" Should the public be more involved"

— Comprehensive plan: After discussing updating the comprehensive land-use plan, and applying for and being awarded a grant for planning, the town has essentially decided that no substantive changes are needed on its 1994 master plan. Is it enough to look at the zoning, or does the plan need a more comprehensive communitywide look"

— Commercial development: How can New Scotland work to encourage commercial development in the town" How important is it to the growth of the town, and to easing the tax burden"

For supervisor
LaGrange touts "youthful energy"

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND—Douglas LaGrange says that it is important to have leadership and a "youthful energy" in a town supervisor. He is running for the post on the Republican Party line against Democratic challenger, Thomas Dolin.

LaGrange is a lifelong New Scotland resident. He is running for supervisor "out of necessity for the best interest of the town," he said.

"We didn’t have a candidate that had the current experience necessary to lead the town in the right direction," he said. "I gladly take it on, and I’m well-equipped to do it."

He is an eighth-generation Feura Bush dairy farmer. LaGrange has developed a strong work ethic on the farm, he said. "When I get involved with something, I do it."

LaGrange, 48, and his wife, Anita, have two daughters ó Kristy, 25, and Amy, 20.

He has been a member of the town board for two years, and was a member of the planning board for the four years prior.

"I firmly believe you should have some years on the planning board and/or the town board, to have a better overview of town issues," said LaGrange. Serving on the boards has given him "a greater respect for what’s coming at us and how we can approach it," he said.

LaGrange said that he attends numerous town meetings each month: planning board, zoning board, comprehensive-plan review committee, and water committee. "I firmly believe that, after I’m supervisor, I should continue to attend them," he said.

"It’s a leadership role," he said of the town supervisor. "In our climate of change in town today, you have to have a leader in that role," he said.

LaGrange appreciates Dolin’s service to the town over the years, but, he said, "It’s experience that happened too long ago to be up to speed.

"I’ve got a lot of respect for how the Mayans built the pyramids, but would I ask them to build a skyscraper for me"" No," LaGrange said. "You have to be up to speed on current issues," he said.

If elected, LaGrange said he would be "more than full-time." That means being accessible and getting to late meetings, he said.

Town issues

Water is a "double-edged sword," said LaGrange.

"It’s not a flip of a switch," he said. You have to create water districts, have access to water, and have enough people who are willing to use it and still come within the comptroller’s limits, he said. "We’ll continue to be aggressive in identifying those areas," he said.

"You bring in water, you bring in development. They go hand-in-hand. You’ve got to be careful," said LaGrange. "We’ve got a great water committee," he said.

"I’ll be at Bethlehem and Guilderland’s doorstep. My more youthful, aggressive energy will get it done," he said of working with neighboring towns on shared water. "It’s an arduous process. We have to be diligent and keep working toward an end," he said.

Regarding zoning, LaGrange said, the town has a "pretty solid" zoning ordinance.

"It needs tweaking in conjunction with the comprehensive plan," he said.

"One of the reasons Ed and I have tried to update the comprehensive plan is to bring everything together," said LaGrange, referring to himself and Supervisor Ed Clark, who is retiring.

LaGrange said he doesn’t think there are any major problems with the town’s zoning.

"When we have an issue in an area, like the Hilton Road residents who wanted the zoning changed, it has to go through a process where we listen to the people," he said.

"I’d like to get back to the fact that we’re public servants," he said.

LaGrange said that he doesn’t claim to "know everything about everything" but readily looks to experts for advice on an issue.

"As we do the comprehensive plan updates, we need to come up with good, educated reasons for making changes," he said.

Affordable housing is an issue that should be addressed, said LaGrange. There are two ways it happens, he said.

"If you have people in houses in the $200,000 to $250,000 range as they leave the more modest home, that opens up affordable housing," LaGrange said.

The other way, he said, is incentives for developers.

"When a developer comes in, we want to be able to give incentives, maybe densities to give them the opportunity to add affordable housing," he said.

LaGrange was a member of the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee, he said, "as someone concerned with private property rights and planning."

As a member of the town board, he said, he was "focused" on implementing some of the recommendations. He has been able to do so with two recommendations, he said.

The right-to-farm law was passed, and he initiated the formation of a comprehensive plan review committee, he said.

"Were going in the right direction," he said of implementing the recommendations. "We can move a lot faster with a group of like-minded candidates," he said. "We’ve put together a tremendous slate of candidates for town board," LaGrange said of the candidates running on the Republican line.

"We need to be proactive instead of being reactive all the time. RPAC was the genesis for being proactive," said LaGrange.

Public input is part of the planning process, he said. "When you discuss any type of planning, you need public input," LaGrange said. There is always something to be drawn from ideas, he said.

"I’m here to listen," said LaGrange.

"I’ve sought out planning experts," he said. It’s important to consider the public input with the expert input and make educated decisions, LaGrange said.

"We need to open up our town government that much more," he said.

For example, with the proposal for a senior-housing law, people gave good input, he said.

"I asked the opinion of experts." I took their thoughts and further developed my thoughts," said LaGrange, adding that public input also helped him.

The comprehensive plan "is a sound foundation of a plan," said LaGrange of the 1994 plan, "It certainly was well done initially.

"Twelve years is a long time when it comes to issues such as impending development," he said. "We need to update numbers, mapping a lot of road-use figures," he said.

"We have to revisit the comprehensive plan," said LaGrange. "The comprehensive plan needs to be addressed before zoning," he said. "We need to look at these issues in a general sort of way for these specific areas, and then adjust the zoning to reflect the comprehensive plan," he said.

LaGrange said that the town has "no planning focus." He said he has had several landowners approach him and ask, "What does the town want in the area of my property""

Together, he and Republican town-board candidate Charles Voss came up with a strategy for the route 85 and 85A corridor, said LaGrange.

"It is an economic engine for this area," he said.

It would be a mixed-use zone, possibly with affordable apartments, he said.
You need rooftops to help entice more commercial development to come into the town," he said, adding that New Scotland has less than a 5-percent commercial tax base.

"You have to be able to say, "This is what the town wants,’" he said.

In order to develop a commercial tax base, said LaGrange, you need to have business people involved.

"We have to bring business owners together along with developers and form an economic-development committee, said LaGrange.

"I don’t want to make any hollow promises," he concluded.

For supervisor
Dolin says he has credentials, commitment to lead

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Thomas Dolin says he has the time, credentials, commitment, and experience to be a great town supervisor. He is making his first run on the Democratic line against Republican challenger, Douglas LaGrange.

"I think the town is at a crossroads. Development pressures are building," said Dolin. "The town needs leadership," he said.

"I want to preserve the fundamental rural character of the community," Dolin said. "I don’t want to see our schools become overcrowded or our roads congested," he said.

Dolin, 68, has lived in Voorheesville for nearly 40 years with his wife, Nancy. They have three children and four grandchildren.

His daughter and two of his grandchildren also live in New Scotland, giving him more incentive and commitment to do the job well, he said.

For 14 years, Dolin held one of two town justice positions, resigning mid-term in March to run for supervisor. Before becoming a judge, Dolin practiced law for 29 years. "I did a lot of commercial lending and trusts and estates work," he said earlier of his years as an attorney.

He was the managing partner of a 14-lawyer law firm with more than $3 million in gross revenues, he said, as proof of his abilities to manage the town’s finances. He was the attorney for the town of Westerlo for seven years and the attorney for the planning boards in both New Scotland and the village of Voorheesville. He is now retired.

"I believe I have the management training to be a good supervisor," Dolin said.

The supervisor is a member of the town board, but is also the day-to-day executive of the town as well as the chief financial officer, he said. "You’re kept pretty busy."

The town is in need of some active leadership, said Dolin.

Town issues

With regard to public water, Dolin said he is not promoting finding water for residential land developers. The town should target its efforts to meet the needs of existing residents, he said.

An agreement needs to be reached with the neighboring town of Bethlehem, indicating how much water is available. "I feel confident I can work out a relationship with Bethlehem to work out a commitment from them as to what they can offer us, and whether we can afford it," Dolin said.

In New Salem, for example, he said, there are some "serious problems" with the existing municipal supply. People could easily be connected to the Vly Creek Reservoir, he said. Bethlehem owns the reservoir, located in New Scotland.

"There are people all the way down Route 85 who could, I believe, at a reasonable cost, be connected, but have been left out," said Dolin.

With respect to zoning, Dolin said that the town is moving in the right direction with the proposal to implement a senior-housing law. He is glad, though, that the proposal has gone back to the planning board for further review, he said.

Dolin suggested incentive zoning, which would allow for some affordable housing, he said. For example, if a developer were to allocate 10 percent of a development as affordable housing, the town could in turn grant the developer one or two more units per acre, he said.

"I wouldn’t want to see an entire development devoted to affordable housing," he said. "It’s better to mix it in" There are people here who may need that sort of housing," he said. "I’d hate to see them move because they can’t afford to live here."

He encourages the use of clustered development, which preserves the vistas, he said.

In the report that the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) submitted to the town in 2006, it was suggested that the industrial zone along the old D & H Railroad be converted into residential use. It is "not likely" the area will ever become industrial, and, Dolin said, it is better suited for residential use.

Submitting the RPAC report was "as far as it went," Dolin said. "I think the report was good, but it’s now time to implement its goals, and take some action and get things done," he said. "It is my intention to actively seek out the implementation of RPAC recommendations," he added.

The route 85 and 85 A corridor, which was a targeted area discussed in the report, is currently zoned a commercial district.

"I’d like to consider converting it to a commercial hamlet," said Dolin. It’s important to focus on residential use, as well as attracting small retail establishments that would support the village atmosphere, he said. "That area is ripe for some kind of reasonable development, and would help us with the school tax burden," he said.

Dolin is not opposed to the formation of committees similar to RPAC, he said, "if they’re not abused or used as a mechanism to bury legislation."

The RPAC did good work, but the town can’t spend much more time studying things, Dolin said. "I think it’s time to get some things accomplished."

The town’s current planning process, he said, works well. "I’m happy with the way things work," he said. "Town law requires public hearings" The board is actively promoting involvement by town residents," he said.

With regard to the comprehensive land-use plan, Dolin said he thinks the town is "on the right track" with its plan to update data and mapping.

"The plan, as it was adopted, still represents current thinking of the community," he said, reiterating the need for more current data such as population density and standards for town-owned roads.

Bringing commercial development into the town has been a struggle, Dolin said. "It would be nice if we could attract some small retail and light, clean industry" We don’t have the infrastructure to support these types of businesses," he said.

The Route 85 corridor has a lack of water and sewage, which are expensive commodities, he said.

"My goal is to sit down with Bethlehem officials to see to what extent they are willing and able to help us" The 85 corridor is probably our best hope of increasing our tax base through development that won’t add to our school population," he said.
"I’ve spent a significant part of my professional life advising officials on the operation of village and town government," Dolin concluded. "And, I have the time to devote to the job."

For town board
Baron supports seniors

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Democrat Deborah Baron says that she respects the strength of the volunteer corps in the town. She is running for a second four-year term on the town board.

When Baron and her husband, Robert Baron, moved to New Scotland about 20 years ago, she said, they were drawn to the community.

If re-elected, Baron said she wants to help "draw in volunteer resources to make a better connection between the town, village, school, and public library."

Baron, 56, has four children — Robert, Matthew, Julianna, and Brittany. She works for the Voorheesville School District as a tax collector and keyboard specialist.

During her tenure on the board, "We’ve accomplished the Clarksville Water District Extension #7," she said, adding that it was an "impetus of why I got involved."

A huge accomplishment of the board during the past four years, she said, was the appointment of Susan Kidder as the senior liaison to the town. "Susan has brought dedication and caring, and more of the intangible qualities that serve the program well," said Baron. Kidder’s efforts have been diligent and conscientious, she added. Baron serves as the town board’s liaison to the seniors.

Baron said that she hopes that the program itself can continue to grow.

The board has also worked to strengthen "intermunicipal cooperation" between the village of Voorheesville and the town, Baron said.

"We’re going in the right direction," she said.

As a town board member, it is important to bring in communication from different residents," she said.

If she is re-elected, Baron said, she would like to bring in volunteers to strengthen the town’s senior program. "I’d like to see us have our own van," she said.

The town’s senior population has increased in recent years, Baron said. Senior citizens make up a "good portion of the public that needs to be heard and watched out for," she said.


Water, said Baron, "is more of a case-by-case issue" dependent upon the topography and zoning of the area. The town board must be guided by the planning and zoning boards on a case-by-case basis, she said.

She again referred to the Clarksville Water District Extension #7. "It’s a very difficult area," she said, adding, "It’s an important leap in that area."

Regarding zoning, Baron said, "I personally think we need zoning to allow for some senior housing somewhere." She added that she thinks that Reilly, who drafted a proposal for a townwide senior-housing floating zone, has done a "great job."

"It is overdue for the town to at least have some mechanism to address the need," said Baron. Baron has said she will abstain from voting on the senior overlay district since her husband would be the contractor for a planned senior-housing complex if the overlay is approved.

The town also needs to encourage the development of affordable housing, Baron said. "I’d like to see us be an open door to any projects that might mix it in," she said.

Baron’s goal is to reach out to agencies in Albany County to see if New Scotland is a good area to develop affordable housing, she said. "It’s something we should investigate with some due diligence," said Baron, adding that the need for public transportation should also be examined.

With respect to the recommendations of the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee, Baron said the town is waiting on some final information from a committee established in January of 2006 to make suggestions about possible revisions to the comprehensive land-use plan. The committee was chaired by Douglas LaGrange, a town councilman who is running against Democrat Thomas Dolin for town supervisor.

The updates being made to the data and mapping of the comprehensive plan were part of the recommendations in the RPAC report, Baron said.

The town appreciates the work done by committees, she said.

As far as increased public involvement, Baron says, "That’s what public hearings are all about. Any comments from the public are greatly appreciated by all boards in the town."

If one person speaks at a public meeting, said Baron, that individual may be speaking for 10 other people who may not have been available or as forthcoming.

"We earnestly try to take all comments we get seriously," she said. The public hearing process works "very well" for all of the town’s boards, she said.

Baron said that implementing public committees to aid in the planning process works if there is a specific topic. "I don’t know how well it would work to have a committee just to have a committee," she said.

"I think the process works," Baron said of the town’s planning process and its allowance for public involvement.

"I’d love to see more people involved, but I also know that people only have so much time they can dole out," Baron said. "I encourage more involvement, but can’t criticize anyone if they can’t get involved."

For a small rural town, Baron said, New Scotland has a high level of community involvement.

Baron says that she doesn’t know whether the topography and road structure in New Scotland are conducive to encouraging commercial development. She added that she doesn’t know if that kind of development is something that town residents would be in favor of.

"I don’t see New Scotland as a commercial hub or a commercial suburb," she said. "I don’t see us as being a real attractive spot." The town is not void of commercial business, she said, pointing out Olsens’ Nursery, the Stonewell Plaza, and Nichols’ Market, which will soon be converted to a Hannaford.

Baron’s "big push," she said, is for the town’s elderly population. The town needs to focus on making it feasible for seniors to stay in the town and enjoy their neighborhoods, she concluded.

For town board
Reilly seeks water

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Democrat Richard Reilly says that he has enjoyed serving his community as a member of the town board for the past eight years, and he believes he can continue to contribute in that capacity.

"Any town-board member recognizes challenges and opportunities that the town faces and actively works to address them in as thoughtful and responsible a manner as possible," Reilly said.

Throughout the past two terms, Reilly said, the board has accomplished a number of things. Among them, he said, is the appointment of Susan Kidder to act as the senior liaison to the town. The board created alternate positions to the zoning and planning boards, to ensure that applicants get a review by a full board and also has "taken important steps in strengthening land-use planning," he said.

Reilly, 31, is a lawyer at Gleason, Dunn Walsh, & O’Shea, an Albany law firm. He handles construction law, not-for-profit, and commercial litigation and transactions. He is married to Molly, and has four children — Claire, William, Owen, and Joseph.

Town issues

With respect to municipal water, the town needs to work with neighboring municipalities as well as the village of Voorheesville, Reilly said.

"I think we should actively pursue opportunities to provide public water to residents in the town of New Scotland," he said. The town needs to also work to build on the existing infrastructure, he said.

Planning and zoning documents, said Reilly, are "living documents." The town’s zoning, when it was initially adopted, was ahead of its time, and has served the town well.

"We can always work to improve them, and that’s what we’re doing," Reilly said, adding that the town is trying to adopt techniques to preserve the character of the town.

It is important the town remain a "vibrant place" for young people and for seniors to live, he said.

Regarding affordable housing, the town could consider mandating that large-scale developers set aside a number of homes for a families with fewer resources, said Reilly. "We could also provide incentives to developers who either construct or rehabilitate existing housing stock" by allowing increased density on a particular project," he said.

"I think it’s a significant need," Reilly said of affordable housing. "I think it’s important that New Scotland remain a vibrant community."

Reilly recalled that, when he was growing up in New Scotland, the town was a mixture of kids "from all walks of life." It is important the town keep that texture, he said.

In regard to the RPAC recommendations, Reilly said that town has taken a look at a number of the issues raised in the report, and "will continue to do so."

"RPAC didn’t really re-invent the wheel. Many of the issues were already addressed in the comprehensive plan," he said.

"As a town board, we always attempt to involve community input. How we effectively obtain that input is important," said Reilly. "I always think public input is important. The public hearing process is a great vehicle for that," he said. "I’ve never viewed the public hearing as a formality the town board would blow past.

"What I don’t want to see is town officials abdicate their responsibility to offer meaningful solutions to issues we’re facing, by committee-ing things to death," said Reilly. Adding that, over the past several years, the town has had a "tremendous" amount of public input.

"Committees are important," Reilly said. "I also think that, as elected officials, we’re obligated to represent the residents of this town. There are times committees are used as an excuse for delaying action, rather than finding a solution to our opportunities and challenges," he said.

"The town needs to be prepared to put the pen to the paper and offer proposals to the public" That’s important as well," Reilly said. "We’re elected by the people of the town, and we do need to represent their interests."

The comprehensive land-use plan, said Reilly, substantively, "is ahead of its time." What is important, he said, is that the town ensures the data, and tools such as mapping are up to date.

"We’re always looking at land-use planning issues," he said.

"Commercial development is clearly important to lessen the significant tax burden on residents" Town officials need to seriously consider projects and identify areas where commercial development is appropriate, and work to create an environment where development we deem appropriate can be built," he concluded.

For town board
GOP challenger Schultz says he’ll fight ‘machine’

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Gary Schultz’s family has been living in the town of New Scotland since the early 1900s, he said. Schultz, a registered Conservative, is making his first run, in a four-way race for one of two town board seats, on the Republican line.

"My family’s roots and my whole life is in town," said Schultz. His father owned a business in town, was the mayor of the village of Voorheesville, and was a town justice, he said.

"I was asked to run by the Republican Party because of my background," said Schultz, who has run his own consulting business for the past seven years. He said he has been in the same industry for 30 years.

"I saw this as a way to pay back my civic duty and give back to the town," Schultz said.

"There is a political machine running this town," said Schutlz. Right now, he said, "the machine" consists of Democrats. "It’s about power, and it’s about control," he said.

"I don’t want a political machine running our town anymore," said Schultz. "I’ve been shell-shocked by how blatant they are about their behavior," he said. "If the group I’m running with wins, we can dismantle that machine," he added.

Schultz, 60, is married with two adult children and two stepchildren, he said.

"For the most part, I don’t think our citizens participate in town government," he said. "I think we need to do whatever we can to encourage more participation by the populace in town government.

"The role of our town board, in my opinion, is to be proactive in a pursuit to realize economic growth, and to have a real strategy," said Schultz.

"We need proper commercial business. We need proper zoning that accommodates our seniors," he said. "There are people who don’t have water or sewer needs [met]. We need to find answers," Schultz said.

"The machine needs to be dismantled so we can have a town government, not town politics," he said.

Town issues

"In my opinion, issues we are concerned about are old issues that have been issues in the town for the last 12 years or more," said Schultz.

Regarding public water, Schultz said, the town needs to explore new wells. "We need to discover where and how to develop new wells," he said.

"New Scotland has a reservoir in it, and gives it out to Bethlehem," Schultz said of Bethlehem’s Vly Creek Reservoir. The town needs to negotiate with the town of Bethlehem, he said. "We need to work out an arrangement to get some of our water back," he said.

Updating the town’s comprehensive plan said Schultz "is way overdue."

Despite the attempts of Supervisor Ed Clark to update the plan, "It was cut short," he said.

"We have an antiquated master plan. It needs to be revised," he said.

"We need to investigate where and in what form we can entice commercial business," he said. "We are under-commercialized," he added.

"We need zoning to provide proper housing for our aging population," said Schultz. "We need to develop the hamlets in a proper way in town, so we have proper residential development" Proper housing means easing the tax burden," he said.

Affordable housing is something that Schultz says should be addressed in the comprehensive plan.

"I’d like to get feedback from a licensed professional town planner, and feedback from town residents," said Schultz. "Hear what everyone has to say and make an informed decision."

Recommendations from the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee have not been properly considered and are under-utilized, said Schultz.

"The machine is a boulder," he said.

The recommendations need "further investigation and proactive attention by a bipartisan group of people," Schultz said.

"I think we need a lot more of it, and we need to listen to it, and invite those people in our houses," said Schultz of public input.

There are over 6,000 registered voters in the town of New Scotland, said Schultz. "Every government official needs to listen to every single one of them that wants to talk," he said.

"We need more input from people," he said. "I wish far more people would be invested and interested in town government."
The public can be more involved in the planning process if they are more informed, said Schultz. The town needs to work to make people more informed, he said.

"We need to have user-friendly websites — maybe several of them," he said. "We’ve got to try and do something," he said, suggesting mailing surveys to residents, inquiring as to what issues concern them.

"It’s a challenge," he conceded, regarding increasing public involvement.

Schultz said he feels that the information put forth by residents regarding the proposed senior-housing overlay zone was largely ignored.

"I don’t want to hear just good news, I want to hear all the news," he said. "If anybody is passionate about an issue, I think they ought to have a voice."

Residents who voice their concerns are healthy for the town, said Schultz. "I wish there were more people who cared enough to speak up," he said.

Regarding the comprehensive plan, Schultz said he believes the board was wrong. "There is enough reason to look at the plan. It is substantive," he said.

"The comprehensive plan needs to be completely overhauled. It is too old," he said. "It needs to be reviewed and overhauled by experts, town residents, and the board," he said.

With the current administration, said Schultz; "personal agendas and personal careers are the basis of decisions rather than good government."

Given the size of the town and the availability of commercial space, Schultz said, New Scotland is underdeveloped commercially.

"We lag way behind other towns in that regard," he said.

"One of the most beautiful aspects of our town is the rural character," he said. "I don’t want to lose that for the sake of a buck. Commercial property needs to be thoroughly investigated.

"Having been involved thus far for the first time in any sort of campaign for election," said Schultz, "it’s become clear to me why 35 percent of our population does not seem to want to be involved in any political party."

Voters not enrolled in a political party are a segment of the town’s population that is growing, Schultz said. "The town still belongs to them," he said.

"I would encourage people to vote your conscience" Forget politics, vote for your town," Schultz concluded.

For town board
Voss wants to share planning expertise

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Charles Voss says that it’s important to share your knowledge and expertise to better your community. He is running on the Republican line in a four-way race for one of two town board seats.

When he moved to New Scotland eight years ago, Voss, a professional planner, "wanted to see how progressive my town codes were," he said.

He went to Town Hall and told then-Supervisor Martha Pofit that he was a land-use planner, and volunteered his time and knowledge, he said. "The town is relatively simplistic in its types of land-use codes and protections we have," said Voss.

He is running for town board, he said, "to be able to have an effective change on the community."

Voss has a masters’ degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in land-use planning, he said.

He has worked as an urban planner in Albany; done private consulting with engineering firms, which exposed him to "cutting-edge technology and methodologies in land-use planning"; and successfully ran his own business for three years, he said. He has been working for CT Male for two years.

Voss has also been a member of the town’s planning board for the past two years. The role of the planning board, he said, is to implement town policies. On the town board, you help to set town policy, he said. "On the town-board level, you could effectively create new land-use policies to help preserve the community," said Voss.

Voss, 44, is married to Sheila, and they have two children — Benjamin, 11, and Julia, 8.

Open accessibility within town government is a "big, big issue," said Voss. Being elected to the town board is an obligation and not a nuisance, he said.

"I expect people to reach out to me if they have issues, and I will make myself available" We’re there for the people, we’re not there for ourselves," he said.

Town issues

Water is not a simple issue, Voss said. "New Scotland has a very unique geology, which has been a blessing and a curse," he said.

"I think water is a crucial issue. The difficulty is getting people to understand how complex an issue it is," he said. It is unfortunate, he said, that the town does not own or control the Vly Creek Reservoir, which is located in New Scotland but owned by the neighboring town of Bethlehem.

It is important to work more closely with the neighboring municipalities of Bethlehem and Guilderland, said Voss. Water, he said, "is one of those issues that requires some more focus and some more dedication."

With respect to zoning, "It has been kind of my pet peeve," said Voss. "Zoning is a tool that implements the comprehensive plan," he said.

"Unfortunately, our zoning doesn’t really reflect the vision of the comprehensive plan," said Voss.

"I’d like to see the new town board establish a full zoning-review committee to go through the code and align it with the comprehensive plan," he said.

For example, he said, the current planned-unit-development regulations give "way too much discretion" and PUDs need to be defined more succinctly.

The proposed senior-housing law didn’t prescribe development for seniors or an appropriate location, he said.

"I think we need to roll up our armsleeves, put our boots on, and jump into it," Voss said.

"I’m a very strong property-rights advocate," he said. "We have to address growth, and I’d like to see ordinances be more progressive," he said.

"We need to provide flexibility and options in the zoning code," said Voss. "I think we need to require developers to provide affordable housing," he said, identifying "affordable" as being under $200,000.

Within the New Scotand Hamlet Plan — a plan developed by Voss and his Republican running mates, who refer to themselves as Team New Scotland — medium and low-level housing such as condos, apartments, and affordable town homes, will be a requirement, said Voss.

The town could also use incentives, he said. Incentives encourage developers to fill town needs, and, at the same time fill residential needs.

"The Democrats haven’t done anything in eight years," said Voss. "It takes a majority to get anything done."

Regarding the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee, Voss said, it was a great exercise, but he hasn’t seen many of its recommendations implemented.

A right-to-farm law was implemented, a grant committee has been formed, and a committee to review the comprehensive plan was established, he said.

"We should be proactive as a town board" The majority seems to stick their head in the sand and say everything is fine," Voss said.

"Public involvement is probably the most critical element to any planning process," said Voss. It is important to be sure the public understands what lawmakers are talking about, and accepts it, he said. "Two or three guys sitting around a table, working on zoning, is inappropriate."

Voss said that, in his professional experience, he has updated about five different municipal zoning laws.

To do that, he said, it is best to first establish a zoning review committee of 10 to 12 people, and take the ordinance, go through it section-by-section, and highlight areas of change. The committee should cross-reference the suggestions with the comprehensive plan to come up with revisions, he said. It is also crucial to hold workshops and invite the public, he said.

"Zoning is very contentious. I’ve been in communities where it takes months or years to change zoning," said Voss.

"Rich just didn’t follow a good public-prescribed process," Voss said of Councilman Richard Reilly, who has been working with a few town officials to make adjustments to the town’s zoning laws.

The comprehensive plan, said Voss, "is actually pretty good."

The goals are still valid, he said, adding that the comprehensive-plan review committee found a 10-percent margin for change.

"I would like those done before zoning changes are even discussed," said Voss. "It’s like putting the cart before the horse."

New Scotland has only about a 4-percent commercial tax base, compared to around 60 percent in Bethlehem and Guilderland, said Voss. "It strangles us and prevents us from being able to ease tax burdens," he said.

When drafting the New Scotland Hamlet Plan, he said, "We wanted to build upon the traditional character of the town. Hamlets are traditionally the commercial centers.

"We are starting to get more need and demand for additional services," he said. "In creating a defined community core, with a look and feel of a traditional New Scotland hamlet," commercial development is important, Voss said, suggesting a village green with small shops and compact technology parks for the route 85 and 85A corridor.

"It’s a perfect time to create a plan and set it in motion," Voss said. "Planning only works if it’s proactive, not if it’s reactive.

"I don’t want New Scotland to become an exclusive community where my children can’t afford to live," he said.

"My father used to say, ‘Always leave something better than you found it.’ I want to be sure my community remains a vibrant community," Voss concluded.

Four race for two judgeships

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – The race for town judge in New Scotland departs form the norm on several counts this year.

The town has two judges who, in the past, have ran staggered races every two years for four-year terms.

This November, there’s a four-way race for two judgeships, due to the mid-term resignation of Thomas Dolin, who is running for town supervisor.

John Keenan and incumbent Margaret Adkins are running as Republicans, and David Wukitsch and Brendan O’Shea are running as Democrats. Wukitsch was appointed, in a split vote of the town board, in May after Dolin’s resignation.

As the only incumbent who has previously run for the post, Adkins was the only candidate able to address how the dynamics of the campaign has changed.

With four candidates, Adkins said, it is necessary to campaign more. With staggered elections, "You were never running against the co-judge, or running against someone in the same party," she said.

"I think it’s better to have staggered terms because you run the risk of having two new people" with elections for both posts in the same year, she said.

The justices earn an annual salary of $22,062.

Campaign finances have become an issue in this year’s race as one of the candidates, O’Shea, has $10,000 to spend, more than double the highest amount in previous years.

Keenan and Adkins each have less than $4,000, and Wukitsch has just more than $5,000.

And, while candidates for town judge often limit their comments to statements on their qualifications or community involvement, Keenan has aggressively raised the issue of politics, using a campaign slogan of, "Let’s wash partisan politics out of your judiciary."

Incumbent Adkins feels she can make a difference

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Republican Margaret Adkins says that she really enjoys being a town justice, and feels she can make a difference. She is running for re-election in a four-way race for two town justice posts.

Adkins, 46, was elected in 2003 and, in her first term, she helped make the court more accessible, she said. It was a project the entire court took part in, she said, citing the clerks and former town justice Thomas Dolin, who resigned from his post in March to run for supervisor, as also being integral in making it happen.

The court hours are more extensive, she explained. The evening court starts an hour earlier, "which seems to be more convenient," said Adkins, adding that morning court is also offered once a month.

Adkins has also been working on a website for the court, that can be accessed through the town’s website, so that town residents can access information remotely, she said. The site will offer sample marriage vows, and information for the procedure regarding traffic violations. "I thought it would be very useful," Adkins said of the website.

Adkins, who has lived in New Scotland for nearly 20 years with her husband, David Adkins, has a private practice that she runs out of her home, she said. "I mostly do real-estate closings and wills," she said. Adkins has two children — Mary, 15, and Mark, 13.

Adkins graduated from Albany Law School, and has a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University.

The role of town justice, said Adkins, is "to make sure that defendants are treated fairly." The justice has to see both sides and make a decision based on the facts and the law, said Adkins.

"You have to be unbiased. I strive to be that way," she said. The role of the judge is to be impartial, she added.

Recently, she said, a lot of young people have been appearing in her courtroom. "They make mistakes," she said. "We’re working with them to realize those mistakes."

Adkins said that she is definitely in favor of using community service as an alternative to jail time, where it is applicable.

Community service comes into play a lot with unlawful-possession-of-marijuana charges, she said. For a first offense, she said, she generally adjourns the case in contemplation of dismissal (ACOD), and, as part of that, she said, "We require 20 hours of community service."

The volunteer work is done in places such as the library, local food pantries, or through a program with the sheriff’s department, which tends to be the least favorite among young people, she said.

The judge needs to get the facts to make a decision and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, Adkins said.

Her judicial philosophy, she said, is "to treat people fairly and respectfully, and to encourage the same in court." She often tells people to stand up or to make eye contact, she said, reiterating how important it is that there be mutual respect in the courtroom.

It is also essential to make sure that the defendant’s rights are preserved, she said.

"I think people expect fairness and courtesy from the staff. They also expect a preservation of their community, and safety," she said.

With regard to whether she believes that town justices should be elected or appointed, Adkins said, "either system has great potential for being flawed.

"I wish it was totally non-partisan," she said of the judgeship, but she added, "I don’t see a way around it.

"I’m enrolled as a Republican, but it really shouldn’t make a difference," said Adkins. "That’s not how I look at people who come into my courtroom," she said, referring to their party affiliation.

For the town justice position, said Adkins, "you have to be available." Sometimes you might receive a phone call in the middle of the night, she said. "You have to be able to get to Town Hall to do those arraignments," she said.

Adkins said that she signed a fair-campaign pledge through the League of Women voters, in which she promised to conduct her campaign openly, fairly, and truthfully.

"I feel we ought to treat other candidates fairly, just as we do people in the courtroom," she concluded.

Newcomer Keenan says he’s always wanted to be a judge

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – John Keenan says that he has wanted to be a judge "for just about ever." He is running on the Republican Party line in a four-way race for one of two positions.

"In my opinion, if you’re a halfway decent attorney, you should aspire to be a judge," said Keenan.

He works as a sole practitioner. About half of his work is in family and matrimonial law, he said. The second half is landlord-tenet work, he said. "The third half," he quipped, is with wills, vehicle and traffic law, and small-estate planning.

He and his wife, Suzanne, have lived in town for five years. They have three children — Joseph, Christian, and Stephany.

Keenan, 45, is also the attorney to the zoning board of appeals for the village of Voorheesville, and he prosecutes animal-control cases in both the village and the town.

He has worked for numerous police agencies, and was a New York State corrections officer for 14 years.

Throughout his career, he said, he has tried to be "fair, firm, and consistent." Keenan said, "As long as you’re fair, you gain respect."

He doesn’t consider himself to be an overly strict law-and-order person. "I know there are varying shades of gray in virtually every case," said Keenan.

"Sometimes alternatives to incarceration may be appropriate," he said, adding that the punishment depends on the case.

"I think for minor infractions, especially, community service is a good alternative to incarceration. It’s not a tax burden for the county, and [it is] a benefit to the community," he said.

When asked if the current system of electing town judges is a good one, or if he would prefer judges be appointed, Keenan said, "It depends on who does the appointment and who does the election."

Keenan’s campaign slogan is: "Let’s wash partisan politics out of your judiciary."

Keenan said that he was disappointed and frustrated with how the May appointment of David Wukitsch played out — in a split vote by the town board. The three Democratic board members voted in favor, and the two Republican members voted against.

"It’s somewhat disheartening that partisan politics plays such a role, and frankly, in the judiciary, it shouldn’t," said Keenan.

"It’s unfortunate that judges have to be affiliated with a political party to be on the ballot," he said. "I wholeheartedly believe that having partisan politics play a role in the selection of our judges is not a good thing."

The unique circumstances of this year’s election, most likely create some differences in the dynamics of the campaign, Keenan said, though, because it is his first election, he was unable to elaborate.

"It’s an unfortunate circumstance that, from now on, we’ll be electing two judges in the same election year. We could have a 100-percent turnaround in our judicial system every term," he said.

Keenan has an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, he said. "I have a pretty good working knowledge of how the system works."

In his private practice, Keenan said he is in local courts at least once a month, and sometimes, three or four times a week. "You get a handle on how things are supposed to work," he said.

"Frankly, I think all of my opponents are very nice people," Keenan said of the other candidates.

In addition to his legal experience, Keenan has been an interscholastic and intercollegiate official for both lacrosse and football for over 20 years.

"Officials don’t get to the level I’ve dealt with, without good judgment skills," Keenan concluded.

For the Dems
Brendan O’Shea wants to give back

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Brendan O’Shea says he has always thought of "doing something in terms of giving back." He is running as a Democrat in a four-way race for one of two town justice positions. He has one Democratic running mate and two Republican opponents.

For the past 35 years, O’Shea was either in school or working full-time, he said.

"I’ve always wanted to give back," he said. Running for town justice is a "very good opportunity to do just that," he said.

O’Shea, 58, is a partner of the law firm, Gleason, Dunn Walsh, & O’Shea, in Albany, and he practices family law, including custody, foster care, and adoption, he said. Before going to law school, O’Shea worked as a third-grade teacher for six years.

Teaching, he said, was the "toughest job" he ever had. As a teacher, he strived to work with the children and their families, he said, adding that his legal experience has "dovetailed on that."

He has spent his whole life representing individuals or families, and has "a good sense of what makes people tick," he said.

"I simply have the breadth and variety of experience to bring to the table," he said. "I’m capable of taking on most any task," he added.

The judiciary is based on a common sense and work-hard attitude, said O’Shea. "I think the punishment, whether it’s punitive or community service, ought to fit the offense," he said.

O’Shea says that he is OK with the present system, where town judges are elected rather than appointed, but, in the future, he would like to see "a move to non-partisan or appointed positions." He prefers that to election of judges.

O’Shea has lived in New Scotland for 20 years, with his wife, Bonnie, and his sons, Patrick, 22, and Conor, 20.

Because O’Shea is not an incumbent, "I have to do some advertising," he said. He contributed $10,000 to his own campaign. The figure is more than double the usual amount spent in New Scotland elections.

"I just didn’t want to be calling my friends up and asking them for money," he said. "I didn’t want any of them to be beholden to me" I’m just trying to take care of my own campaign."

O’Shea said he expects to spend around $4,700. He has spent $1,900 for print ads in The Enterprise and the Spotlight, and expects to spend another $500 for newspaper ads. He is responsible for paying $789 for his campaign signs. He has slotted $1,458 for palm cards to hand out at homes he visits, he said.

He plans to go door-to-door campaigning, he said. "I’d like to hit 90 percent-plus of the houses, if I can," said O’Shea. "Folks have to size up the candidates," he said. "You wouldn’t buy a car if you didn’t kick the tires.

"I have nothing but positive things to say about the other candidates," said O’Shea of the three other town justice candidates.

"Town court is really where most people have interaction with the justice system in this state," said O’Shea. "It’s up to us to make it run efficiently, fairly, and consistently, and that’s what I hope to do," he concluded.

For the Dems
Wukitsch says he’s learned on the bench

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – David Wukitsch, who is enrolled in the Independence Party is running for town justice as a Democrat, and hoping to continue to provide a public service to the community. He is running in a four-way race for election to one of two town justice positions.

Wukitsch was appointed in May to serve as a town judge until the Nov. 6 election, after the late-March resignation of Thomas Dolin, who left to run for supervisor.

The town-justice position "is not an easy job, but it is challenging and interesting," said Wukitsch. He has the "legal experience, knowledge, and temperament" for the job, he said.

Wukitsch, 52, has lived in New Scotland for seven years with his wife, Patricia, and their four sons.

He is lawyer with one of Albany’s oldest law firms — McNamee, Lochner, Titus, & Williams, he said. He does civil litigation and appellate work, he said.

Since his May appointment, Wukitsch has become familiar with the operations of the town court, he said.

The court is a criminal court, in that crime cases can originate in town court through the arraignment process, said Wukitsch.

The judge has a "significant authority or power," he said. For example, he said, the judge may issue a temporary order of protection in a case involving a domestic dispute.

"Primarily, I’ve learned the town court is a traffic court," he said. Numerous traffic violators pass through his courtroom.

"I’ve done a good job in deciding legal cases that have come before me to date," Wukitsch said of his five months on the bench.

"The town justice really handles many of the same issues as any other judge," he said, adding that many rules must be applied "in a common-sense approach."

As a judge, he said, "It is important to be fair and even-handed toward everyone who appears in court."

His judicial philosophy is "to apply applicable legal principle to the facts of each case and attempt to reach the correct and just result," he said.

Wukitsch said that he believes the election system is a fair way to select town judges. "That is the court closest to the people," he said. "The electorate should have a say on who sits on the town court."

The drawback to an appointment system, he said, is that "people at the grassroots level don’t have a say, and I believe they should.

"I trust that voters will base their support on the candidate’s qualifications and not base it on other factors," said Wukitsch.

Qualifications should be the most important part of the voter’s decision, said Wukitsch.

Wukitsch was an honors law graduate, he said. He then clerked for a judge on the state’s highest court, he said.

He also worked as a trial attorney and tried cases to verdict, said Wukitsch.

"I’m well respected in the legal community," he said. "I have a reputation for being an excellent attorney as well as fair and reasonable," he said.

Wukitsch is active in the community and has given his time to various organizations, he said.

Seventy percent of town justices statewide, said Wukitsch, are not lawyers. "Many of them are very committed and hard working," he said.

But, he went on to say that many issues presented in town court "require careful analysis of statutes and state law" It is difficult for a non-attorney to handle, not to say it can’t be done, but it’s a lot more difficult," said Wukitsch of why he feels it is beneficial for lawyers to serve as town justices. (All four New Scotland candidates are lawyers.)

"I feel my campaign is going very well," Wukitsch said. "I’ve been working hard to convey my qualifications to continue on in the job," he said, adding that he has gone campaigning door-to-door, and has "enjoyed that experience."

Wukitsch said that his parents were both "incredibly honest" and taught him the importance of hard work. His wife has been "incredibly supportive" throughout the campaign, he concluded.

For town clerk
Dems’ incumbent Deschenes challenged by GOP’s Barone

Democratic incumbent Diane Deschenes is being challenged by Republican Penny Barone. The town clerk serves a two-year term and earns an annual salary of $49,499.

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Diane Deschenes has lived in New Scotland her entire life. For the past eight years, Deschenes has worked as the town clerk, and is running for re-election for the post on the Democratic Party line. Penny Barone is her Republican opponent.

The "basic everyday duties" of the position include issuing licenses for marriages, dogs, and hunting; issuing permits for the transfer station; paying bills; updating the website; collecting taxes; keeping track of Town Hall medical supplies; issuing certificates of residency for students; and transcribing the minutes for town board meetings, Deschenes said.

A few years ago, Deschenes suggested that the town clerk and the tax collector positions be merged. "I believe we saved about $10,000 a year between salaries and benefits," she said.

She graduated top in her class from the Spencer Business Institute, Deschenes said. After graduating, Deschenes worked as a travel agent, and later for Hartford Insurance. She has been working for the town since 1996. She spent several years in the building and assessing department before being elected town clerk, she said.

Of her accomplishments as town clerk, Deschenes is most proud of the records-management grants she has helped to secure. "We’ve applied for and received five, totaling over $90,000," she said.

One of the first grants received was for a records storage room, Deschenes said. A storage room was set up in the basement of Town Hall, she said. She keeps a list on the computer of everything stored in the room, she explained. The town also purchased an electronic document imaging system, she said.

Records can now be easily retrieved for the public or for town officials, she said.

"The records process has come a long way," said Deschenes.

The office is "very open to the public," she said. "We’ve never had too many requests for additional hours," she added. "We offer to come in if it’s requested. We are willing to make an exception and come in to help someone."

If re-elected, Deschenes hopes to continue to apply for any grants for which the town is eligible, she said. Her goal is to "continue doing the best job I can and to look for ways to save money for the public," she said.

She is currently working on a grant for electronic water meters.

"I think I’ve done a good job over the past seven years," Deschenes said, adding that she works with a great staff.

"We’ve accomplished a lot and we offer a good service to the public," she concluded.

For town clerk
Barone challenges Democratic incumbent Deschenes

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Penny Barone is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her Aunt Lyn Holmberg. Barone, a Republican, is challenging Diane Deschenes, a Democratic incumbent, for town clerk.

When Barone was asked to run by the Republican Party, she thought of her aunt, Marilyn Holmberg, who was the town’s tax collector for more than 14 years, she said.

"I really admired her," Barone said, adding that the two used to talk about Holmberg’s service to the community.

Because the town clerk is now responsible for tax collecting, Barone said, if elected, she would be "following in her footsteps."

A lifelong area resident, Barone has lived in the town of New Scotland for about six years, she said. She is married with four children.

"My family is very supportive," she said, adding that she is new to the political arena. "I thought it would be a good idea to try it," she said.

If elected, Barone hopes to make Town Hall a friendly place where residents can come in and see the different services provided by the town.

Barone graduated from Bethlehem Central High School, and has over 30 years of customer-service experience, she said. She managed an independent business for 10 years, and worked for a retail corporation for 10 years, she said. She currently works as a medical receptionist.

"I have a lot of business experience and computer experience," said Barone.

As a mother of four who works full time, said Barone, "I would love to have Town Hall open one evening per week."

If she is elected, she said, that is what she would do, suggesting opening Town Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. one evening a week. Having that accessibility, she said, would allow the working public time to go home after work and have dinner before heading to Town Hall for a dog license or whatever was needed, without having to take time off from work.

Barone considers herself a "very people-friendly person," she said. "I want people to have a friendlier, more accessible Town Hall," she said.

"The town clerk is really the direct link between all residents and the local government," said Barone. The clerk must also keep everything in order, she said. "I’m a very organized person.

"It’s basically time for a change," she said, adding that, in the last couple of elections, no one has challenged Deschenes.

New ideas and new faces, she said, are "uplifting for the whole community."

Her campaign slogan, "pardon the pun," she said, is "Vote Penny, Time for Change."

Highway super runs unopposed

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Darrell Duncan is hoping to win his eighth election as the town of New Scotland highway superintendent. Duncan, a Democrat, is running unopposed.

He has held the position for 14 years.

The highway superintendent serves a two-year term, at an annual salary of $65,873.

Duncan has been a resident of the town for his entire life, he said. He is married with four children, and considers his marriage and his children to be his greatest accomplishment.

As highway superintendent, Duncan oversees 80 miles of roads, and 15 highway department employees, he said.

The workers are not members of a union, Duncan said. He said he doesn’t know if there are any plans to unionize. It is up to the workers, he said. "Anything is possible," he added.

Eliminating the overhead expense associated with two town bridges is something of which Duncan is proud, he said.

One bridge was on Cass Hill Road, and the other was on Miller Road, he said. By removing the bridges, the roads are safer and the cost of repairing them has been eradicated, he said.

As a resident of the town, he is most satisfied to be able to help his community, said Duncan.

He also works to help maintain and upgrade two town parks — one is located on Swift Road, and the other in Feura Bush, he said. The idea, he said, is to try to offer more recreational activities and keep the community involved, he said.

If he is re-elected, Duncan said he plans to keep implementing the road-improvement program. He also hopes to refurbish the town’s water tank, and improve the parks, he said.

Offending signs snagged in Voorheesville

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — Some campaign signs began showing up in the village before the law allowed.

According to Voorheesville’s statute, political signs are permitted in the village only four weeks before Election Day and they may remain for just three days after.

In a column running in the most recent Association of Towns’ newsletter, a legal column advises local governments that laws restricting political signs exclusively are usually found unconstitutional when challenged.

"The First Amendment protects speech," the column says. "And courts have held that ‘political speech is entitled to the highest form of protection’ by the First Amendment. A sign regulation that is based on the content of the sign, therefore, would be subject to strict scrutiny by a reviewing court, and highly unlikely to be found constitutional."

If a municipality wants to restrict political signage, the column says, it must write a content neutral law, meaning that it could restrict the placement or size of signs, but not political signs specifically.

This weekend, though, there were a dozen or so signs for Judge Joseph Teresi, who is running for re-election to the state’s Supreme Court, around the village, said Glenn Schultz, chairman of the New Scotland Republican Committee. One of those signs was on Mayor Robert Conway’s lawn; Conway is a Democrat, as is Teresi.

The sign was there when he woke up on Saturday morning, Conway said, and he took it down when he got a call from his neighbor who told him that it violated village law. He’ll put the sign out again, Conway said, now that it’s less than 28 days before the Nov. 6 election.

"It’s just a matter of" rules," said Schultz of raising the issue; he wrote an e-mail to Teresi, Conway, and The Enterprise, pointing out the breach.

"It’s not a big deal," he said. "It’s a matter of principle."

Teresi’s campaign did not return calls on Wednesday.

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