GUILDERLAND Newly-elected supervisor Peter Barber has stepped into his role a month earlier than planned after Ken Runion’s surprise retirement.
After 16 years on the job, Ken Runion retired as supervisor of Guilderland a few weeks short of his term in a move many have questioned.
“I can’t say this came out of blue, but I didn’t anticipate it,” said Barber, as Runion had long threatened early retirement. Runion has reportedly since moved to Florida.
All attempts to reach Runion were unsuccessful.
At the Tuesday, Dec. 1 town board meeting, the four remaining board members, excluding Runion, voted in favor of Barber filling the position a month ahead of schedule.
Barber was elected to the role in November, with 52 percent of the votes to his opponent Brian Forte’s 47 percent. Barber is a lawyer and has served as Zoning Board chairman for the past 15 years.
At a November town board meeting, Deputy Supervisor Patricia Slavick was chosen to serve as supervisor in Runion’s absence, shortly after Runion announced his retirement. She served the role in the weeks between Runion’s last day, Friday, Nov. 20, and Barber’s first, on Tuesday, December 1.
Runion is still currently working at his job at the Murphy, Burns, Barber & Murphy law firm, and plans to make the transition to full-time supervisor in the next month, before the Jan. 1 Organizational Meeting of Town Board, the traditional start day for supervisors. During pre-election debates, Barber stated he would leave his attorney position.
In the meantime, no further town board meetings are planned for the next month. Barber is considering this a time of transition, and said his office’s close location to Town Hall will make handling both jobs manageable.
The transition time for Barber will be spent in training sessions, meeting staff, and familiarizing himself with issues like the McKnownville Storm Water Management project, which he plans to address.
Former supervisor Ken Runion announced last spring that he would not be seeking a ninth term in office. He had planned to retire in August, when he turned 62, but delayed to give time for the political race for his seat to end, stating that he did not wish to give any candidate an advantage.
He then postponed retirement to Thanksgiving, then postponed again, to finally retire on Friday, Nov. 20. “There’s no better time to do that than at the holidays,” he said. Runions plans to use this time with his family. One of his children lives in and raises a family in Florida, nearby where he and his wife Helene Runion have moved to.
Helene and Ken Runion sold their home in Altamont in July, and were trying to find another home in Guilderland. He has a second home in Guilderland, which was not good for the winter weather, said Barber.
Giving Barber a chance to get acquainted with his new role prior to the Organizational Meeting is an advantage which Runion himself was not afforded.
Runion had served Guilderland for over 30 years, serving as town attorney and mayor of Altamont before becoming supervisor. He was first elected in 1999, and re-elected in seven consecutives elections.
In a resignation letter Runion filed to Town Clerk Jean Cataldo on Nov. 13, the former supervisor said, “It has sincerely been a pleasure working with you, the town board and the many employees of the Town of Guilderland.”
“He quietly moved on down the road, as they say,” said David Bosworth, chairman of the Guilderland Democratic Committee. “I think he felt his work was done.”