COLONIE — It appears there will be a primary this year for the 24th District on the Albany County Legislature.
Daniella Weiss, who has a long pedigree in local and state politics, is making her first foray into elected office by challenging Allison McLean Lane for the Democratic Party nomination and the right to represent a chunk of Colonie that includes portions of Watervliet and all of Menands.
Weiss, 32, is the daughter of Jerry Weiss, who is a lobbyist at the state Capital and was a top adviser for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She did her undergrad work at Syracuse University and stayed on that campus to get her law degree. She recently moved back to the Capital District from New York City and has been working at the law firm of Barclay and Damon.
She said while around politics practically her entire life, this is her first run at public office.
“Throughout the course of my career and life in state and local government, I have seen how through public service you can improve the quality of life for others,” she said. “I knew this was something I would eventually do and it was a difficult decision to run in a primary. But, if you want to be an effective leader, you have to be dedicated. It should not be something you did because someone left.”
She worked for now Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he was the state attorney general so she knows the legislative process and also worked at the Assembly internship program where she learned the nuts and bolts of the legislative process. She also worked as an assistant corporation council for the
City of Albany.
In November, she moved from Albany to Loudonville and into District 14.
“North Colonie, Watervliet and Menands, I would open up communication with the entire district and I don’t think we are getting that now,” she said. “Taking on an incumbent is always an uphill battle and she will try and attack me by saying I don’t have ties to the community and that I just moved here. But the reality of it is my whole life has been in Albany.”
McLean Lane won a special election to the Legislature in 2013 and then a full, four-year term in 2015. She made a run at incumbent Town Clerk Elizabeth Del Torto in 2007, and then another for the position against now Clerk Julie Gansle in 2017 after Del Torto opted to retire.
McLean Lane, who lives in Menands with her husband and two children, was a confidential aid to Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan and now works for Assemblyman Phil Steck. She took exception to Weiss’ brief tenure in the district — a district where she grew up — but said she welcomes a primary, albeit one that she said has dubious origins.
“It’s always good to have a little competition. It keeps you on your toes,” McLean Lane said. “However it is not a homegrown primary. At the head of it is a legislator from the City of Albany who is upset I voted for change and he got someone to run a primary against me. It’s hard to win an election when you have never lived here or voted in the district and hopefully the residents will see that.”
She said Legislator Frank Commisso Sr., who reigned from majority leader before he was ousted, is behind her primary and is pushing primaries against other Democrats who voted for Andrew Joyce to chair the legislative body.
“We are supposed to be administering services to some of the most vulnerable populations in Albany County,” she said. “This includes seniors and the homeless and people in domestic violence situations. We should not be all consumed in the leadership makeup of our body. That does not help us get things done.”
She said during her entire tenure the Legislature stayed within the property tax cap and one of her main objectives for her district is still in the works: to get a grocery store in Menands.
McLean Lane has the Working Families Party endorsement. Petitions are due by April 4 and the primary is on June 25.
Each of Albany County’s 39 legislators make about $23,000 a year and serve a four-year term.