Gerald Wood, Rensselaerville town board candidate

Gerald Wood

RENSSELAERVILLE — Having spent all of his life in Preston Hollow, Gerald Wood, 67, is running for the town board for the first time.

Wood said contentious town board meetings in the past few years caused him concern.

“You just couldn’t speak your piece,” said Wood. “Right now, the meetings are running smooth and I want to see it kept that way.” He said he wants to lead the town where his grandchildren will grow up. Wood has two children, Dennis and Brian Wood, who live in Rensselaerville.

For around 25 years, Wood was the fire chief of the Tri-Village Fire Company and worked for about the same amount of time as a heating service technician in the Hilltowns for Main-Care Energy. He is a deacon of the Preston Hollow Baptist Church and a member of the Rensselaerville Ambulance squad.

“I had to call the chairman of the Democrat Party and told them I would be willing to run,” Wood said of how he got his endorsements. “But, before that, also the Republicans had asked me if it was all right if they would endorse me on their party and I said, ‘Fine, because I haven’t been asked by anyone else.’”

Wood is an enrolled Democrat and doesn’t see any conflict.

“This is a small town, and I feel that, out here, you vote for an individual who you feel is going to do the job,” said Wood. “The parties, as far as I’m concerned, don’t mean a lot out here.”

Wood, who was part of the emergency response to tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011, said he saw firsthand the problems of incapable governance.

“We had a town supervisor that should’ve pushed the situation in the Catskill Creek,” Wood said. “My son and myself were both on the emergency plan and we couldn’t get anywheres. Of course, some of the stuff, the volunteers did some things on their own.”

Since then, Wood said the town’s emergency plan, designating the town hall as a command center, where a generator can be run and communications made, is a step forward. He led clean-up efforts, with other volunteers and inmates from the Albany County jail, to restore the badly flooded Bayard Elsbree Memorial Park in Preston Hollow.

The cell-phone coverage that was lacking during the floods is still a problem, he said, but he hopes the Albany County Sheriff’s Office will come up with a plan for better rural communication.

“The power goes out, there’s no radios to communicate on,” said Wood. “The cell phone is a big issue down here and I do hope that we are leaning towards looking in and starting another group of people to start looking for…locations for a tower.”

Wood declined to comment on the board of ethics, the budget, or potential changes to the zoning law because he is not on the board.

“I would have to wait until I get elected on the town board and review that a little more. I don’t have any real good knowledge on the fracking right now,” said Wood.

He said he would be in favor of a five-acre density, noting that, in 2007, a survey agreed, with 650 of about 950 responses.