COLONIE — Richard Stack, the longtime Albany County Conservative Party chairman, said he is “seriously considering” making a run for town supervisor on the minor party line.
“I am checking with people who support me and know me from both major parties and talking to the Conservative and Independence Party types,” he said. “I’m feeling the temperatures of the water and it is warming up.”
The Village of Colonie resident and retired Canadian Pacific Railroad employee said he is still “waiting on a couple things” before making a final decision, but is making preparations with the anticipation of thing falling into place.
“I fell the democratic ticket, with all the candidates excepting to get endorsed by the Working Families Party, have accepted the party’s position on defunding the police and BLM and immigration,” he said. “They can say they do not, but when you take a minor party’s endorsement you take their positions and I don’t think the majority of people in Colonie are of that nature. They are more family oriented and they want family values and religious values.”
Stack said he will also seek the Republican Party endorsement, but has not yet requested an interview, according to party officials.
One potential Republican candidate, county Legislator Jennifer Whalen, said she has decided to not run for supervisor. Others potential candidates include town Judge Peter Crummey, the county Legislature’s Minority Leader Frank Mauriello and Legislator Peter Tunny.
Town Republican Chair Anthony DiPiazza said the Colonie races have gained a significant amount of interest and the party is still interviewing candidates. In addition to supervisor, there are three Town Board seats up for grabs.
The Democrats have endorsed Kelly Mateja to run for the position being vacated by the retiring Supervisor Paula Mahan and incumbents David Green, Melissa Jeffers and Alvin Gamble.
The WFP is endorsing Mateja for supervisor but is not endorsing the three Democratic candidates for Town Board. Instead, the party is endorsing Jessica Mahar, Tim Nichols and Graham Knowles.
The state recently pushed the start of designating petitions to March 2.
Since Stack is not an enrolled Republican, he cannot simply collect signatures to run on that party’s line but he will first need the party’s permission. In years past, it would simply require a vote of the county committee but there is not a “constituted” Republican Party committee in Albany County until at least 2023.
For Stack to get a certificate of authorization, known as a Wilson Pakula, he would need the vote of the state committee members representing the five state Assembly Districts in Albany County, said Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Rachel Bledi.
In September, 2020, the party needed 25 percent of the committee representatives to circulate petitions in order to appear on the November ballot. They did not meet that threshold, so the committee had two options, be taken over by the state party or allow the state committee representatives — two each in the five Assembly Districts — to control the party for the next two years beginning last month.
If he stays on the ballot as a straight Conservative he will certainly hurt the Republican candidate by splitting the vote. A dynamic he refuted.
“Nobody is a spoiler. It is whoever garnishes the most votes,” he said.
The Conservative Party line can be worth anywhere from 1,200 to 1,900 votes in a town election, enough to swing even a moderately close race. Most voters who gravitate towards that line are enrolled Republicans or right leaning independents.
The Conservative Party, too, is one of two political parties, along with the WFP, that garnished enough votes during the 2020 Presidential election to get an automatic spot on the ballot.
“My campaign is based on our [Conservative Party] principles — family values, good government and fiscal responsibility and that is what it has been for 50 years,” he said. “ I have enough people supporting me, and I think my platform would be acceptable to the people of Colonie.”
He said the town’s reserve fund should be growing faster than it is given the amount of development that is happening and has taken issue with Mahan’s decision to privatize the landfill on Route 9. He is also against a more recent decision to sell the Stoney Creek Reservoir in Clifton Park, which serves as the town’s backup water source but has not been used in years and made more obsolete with a recent hookup with the City of Albany.
To development, always a hot topic in town, he said he would not take a cookie cutter approach to zoning and land use and instead open up the process to the impacted neighborhoods. He accused the Mahan Administration of using mitigation fees — money paid by developers in certain part of town to offset the cost of providing services — as a slush fund and not spending it where it is supposed to be spent. He is also concerned about the financial impact the new housing developments are having on the town’s two school districts.
“I am concerned about some of the move they are making off of development and holding on the mitigation fees and putting it in to escrow rather than putting them back into the community where it belongs,” he said. “It’s the school districts that really take the hits. It costs $9,000 a kid, and taxes don’t cover it. If you have three kids it is costing the school district $18,000.”
During his time with the railroad, he said, he dealt with budgets and unions and that experience has groomed him to head up the town and its nearly $100 million budget.
In addition to being politically active, he serves on a number of Boards of Directors including the United Way, the Albany County Project LifeSaver and Senior Hope as well as serving on the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
He expects to make a final decision in a week or two.
“Our main job is to make sure people have a choice,” he said of the Conservative Party. “And if we don’t like that person or this person we don’t just endorse. They have to believe in our values and that is why I am doing what I am doing.”