Two candidates are gearing up their campaigns for the Albany County Legislature’s 14th District.
The seat, which the winner will hold for a four-year term, represents a district that encompasses the entire Village of Menands, parts of the City of Watervliet and a part of Colonie. The position became vacant in February when Democrat Phil Steck moved from the legislature to the Assembly in January. Democrat Alison McLean Lane was appointed to fill the vacancy, and is now running for the full term against Republican Mark Lansing.
Both have announced their candidacies and are starting their campaigns by going door-to-door in the district.
McLean Lane, who grew up in Albany and Loudonville, attended the Albany Academy for Girls and headed to Massachusetts to attend Boston College. She stayed in the Boston area working for the Lyons Group, a conglomerate for bars, nightclubs and restaurants, and later moved to New York City for graduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
McLean Lane moved back to the Town of Colone in 2006, where she started working as the confidential secretary to Supervisor Paula Mahan. Now she lives in Menands with her husband Tim Lane, who also serves on the Colonie Planning Board, and her two children.
After sitting on the legislature the past six months, McLean Lane said it was more than she initially expected, but she is eager to continue working with the other 38 legislators.
“There are a lot of people I’ve been able to help and it makes me incredibly happy. There are so many human services … I have people that call people with heartbreaking stories who really need help. To know I helped them achieve their goals is a great feeling,” McLean Lane said.
McLean Lane said she plans to focus on consolidating services at the county and local levels, as well as trying to bring in more revenue sources to ease taxpayer burden. When working for the Town of Colonie, McLean Lane said she initiated a program to have corporate sponsors for the town’s annual Harvest Fest as well as managed The Crossings of Colonie Farmers Market.
One way she is already implementing this idea is by introducing her first primary sponsored piece of legislation that asks the county executive to look at using the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to stream federal funding.
Jumping late into the debate on dealing with the county-run nursing home issues, McLean Lane said she has reviewed County Executive Dan McCoy’s privatization plan but sides with the Democratic majority in preferring to work with Downstate nursing home administrators Lowell Feldman, Martin Liebman and Larry Slatky. She said the county does not have the funds to give the allotted $10 million necessary to privatize with Upstate Services Group.
So far, McLean Lane has held two fundraisers for her campaign, netting $11,000. She said going door-to-door, most residents are surprised they have a new legislator, but have had a positive response to McLean Lane’s approach.
She encouraged constituents to call and email her. She also has a website, www.alisonmcleanlane.com, as well as a Facebook page for her campaign.
“I know how much history we have here. There is a quality of life here … there is nothing like going to the place where people know you and have known you since you were little. It’s a close-knit community,” she said.
Challenger Lansing is entering the race as a newcomer to the legislature. Lansing, who was born in East Greenbush, attended Columbia High School, went to RPI for his undergraduate degree, Albany Law School for his law degree and back to RPI for his master’s. Raising four children with his wife in Menands, Lansing has never lived outside the Capital District.
He is currently a trustee and the deputy mayor for the Village of Menands, and Lansing said one of his major concerns for the area is creating opportunities for students and the region’s children post-school. Lansing noted that his children have all moved out of the area in order to find jobs in their fields.
“When you look at the demographics, we are an increasingly aging demographic, particularly in Upstate New York. If you want to maintain an economic stability with an aging population, you have to have a developing younger tax base,” Lansing said.
Lansing, a partner at Hiscock & Barclay, said he thinks Albany County needs to become more aggressive in making economic development a primary focus. Lansing said he also wants to see movement on the Albany County Convention Center.
Lansing also stressed the “need for better and greater integration of the local colleges.” He said there should be better leverage between the nanotechnology of the College of Nanotechnology, the biotechnology and light studies at RPI and other science programs.
Working with the Village of Menands for the past seven years, Lansing said officials there were able to work together, regardless of party affiliation, and listen to what the constituency wanted.
“What I’ve observed on some issues, at least through the county, is that we’re not finding resolutions to issues. We need to return back to putting the voter, the constituency, first, and listening to them,” Lansing said.
Unlike McLean Lane, Lansing said he agrees with McCoy’s plan to privatize the nursing home.
“I understand it costs the county about $1.6 million a month and in other deficits. If you are not able to economically operate the facility you should put it in the hands of someone who can economically handle the facility,” Lansing said. “It seems to me the best way is to make a clean break … stop the bleeding.”
As he continues to go door-to-door, Lansing said he has raised about $2,000 for his campaign. He also uses Facebook, concentrated mailings and www.friendsofmarklansing.org to get out his message.
Lansing said he strives to create better opportunities for families and to keep the “American Dream in place, or not sacrificed for our children or grandchildren.”
“In particular in Albany County, if you look historically, it used to be the hub of the Capital District region … it can become an economic engine again so we can provide for our children the opportunity to pursue professional expectations,” Lansing said. “That’s our main goal.”
The other objective, Lansing said, is to “move away from voting blocks,” and resolve issues that are in the best interest of the taxpayers.
“Put them first again so their property taxes are lower, tax base increased, budget is reflective of inflation instead of exceeding property tax caps,” Lansing said.