COLONIE — Jennifer Whalen, arguably the most high profile Republican on the Town Board, is opting not to run again for the seat that expires at the end of this year.
Instead, she said she is running for the open 21st District seat on the Albany County Legislature.
“I love being on the board but there are more local laws debated in the Albany County Legislature and that gives me an opportunity to use my background as a lawyer. To get into the policy behind the laws that will impact us in Colonie and countywide,” she said. “It will be an exciting challenge for me. A good next step.”
The seat is being vacated by Brian Hogan, a Republican, who is retiring when his first four-year term on the Legislature ends at the end of the year.
The 21st District includes Latham, east of Route 9 to Delatour Road and Grenada Terrace and south of Troy Schenectady Road to Spring Street in addition to the area bounded by Route 9, Maxwell Road and Old Niskayuna Road.
It is not clear who the Democrats will pick to run against Whalen, or who either party will pick to run for her old seat on the Town Board. There are two other seats up on the Town Board this year as well: the one held by Paul Rosano, a Democrat, and one held by Christopher Carey, a Republican.
Supervisor Paula Mahan, a Democrat, is also up for re-election.
Whalen ran for the state Assembly twice, once against former incumbent Bob Riley and once against Assemblyman Phil Steck. In 2013, she ran for Albany County clerk against Clerk Bruce Hidley.
She was elected to the Colonie Town Board in 2014 and has been a member of the minority caucus since taking the oath a year later.
She was the lone board member to vote against the 2019 budget that raised taxes above the state imposed 2 percent tax cap, and while not a staunch adversary to Supervisor Paula Mahan, she has stood her ground on some issues.
For example, she was the most vocal proponent of installing a video camera at Town Board meetings so they could be livestreamed and recorded and put on the town’s website. She was also opposed to new regulations on traditional taxi cabs, and opposed the idea of a town-imposed hotel bed tax. She also pushed the town to advertise vacancies on boards and committees to give more people a chance to serve and to guard against political patronage.
“I have a lot of things I am proud of, especially being in the minority,” she said. “But, the things I am most proud of is promoting transparency and accountability in government. I hope to carry that and my pro-business, pro-free market attitude into the county Legislature.”
An attorney, she used to work for the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Racing and Wagering Board. She is also a former prosecutor and currently owns a residential and commercial real estate firm, The Whalen Group.
She and her husband live in Colonie and together they have two boys.
For the first time, the campaign season is following the federal election calendar and designating petitions hit the street towards the end of this month and are due by the end of March.