With Supervisor Paula Mahan’s announcement she will retire at the end of the year, there is not a shortage of candidates eyeballing the town’s top spot.
“I don’t have anybody specially in mind,” she said “I would like to see someone willing to learn, and take the job on as it really is and that is to serve all the people in Colonie and someone who is willing to work hard and treat people with respect and I don’t think you can ask for more than that.”
Two years ago Mahan had her closest contest to date and got by Scrainge, the former Albany County and town Republican Party chairman, by a little more than 100 votes. Scaringe has been around the political arena for decades but made his first run at public office, many think by default — in other words the party couldn’t find anyone else to take on Mahan.
With an open seat, though, there is likely not going to be a shortage of candidates for the high profile position that pays $123,000 a year.
“We want experienced candidates who understand the town, value hard work and listening, and have clear goals for continuing Colonie’s sound financial and management practices,” said town Democratic Party Chairman Ryan Horstmyer. “Next month, the Colonie Democratic Committee will approve a slate that will keep our quality of life high and lead Colonie through yet another national crisis.”
“There has been an extensive search process in place,” said his counterpart Republican Party Chairman Anthony DiPiazza “Our candidate must and foremost be a loyal Republican who shares our values and beliefs and has extensive knowledge of the Town of Colonies operations and constituency. Everyone will be given an opportunity to interview with our selection committee.”
Potential names on the Democratic Party side include Peter Gannon, the president and CEO of the United Way who used to work for Mahan and was heavily involved in all her campaigns, Kate Mateja, who used to work in the town Planning Department, Nancy Hernandez, who was Mahan’s deputy on the Town Board and who now works for state Comptroller’s Office, Nick Viggiani, who ran for the county Legislature. Elected Democrats who may consider moving up include incumbent Town Board members Melissa Jeffers, David Green and Jill Penn.
“First and foremost, I want to personally thank Supervisor Mahan for her incredible leadership over the last 13 years,” Jeffers said. “It has been a honor to work with her, and learn from the person who led the town to its current posture as one of the most successful and thriving towns in upstate New York. Like everyone else, I have just been informed that she will not seek re-election. I look forward to any opportunity to carry her legacy well into the future.”
On the Republican side, names include senior town Judge Peter Crummey, Legislator Jennifer Whalen, who gave up a Town Board seat to make a successful run at the county Legislature, Town Board member Rick Field, Town Clerk Julie Gansle, Mauriello and Scaringe.
Crummey said he has served the town as a judge for 21 years and “at this point, I remain pleased to continue to do so.” When and if he does announce, he will have to give up his position on the bench to run.
Whalen said she is “considering” a run given her experience as a lawyer and former prosecutor and her four years on the Town Board where she spearheaded an effort to live stream board meetings and listing job openings on the town website.
“I have a proven track record in Colonie with respect to fighting for families, small businesses, the elderly and protecting the environment as well as insisting on transparency throughout the process,” she said. “I know I would make a great town supervisor and love the Town of Colonie and want to ensure it remains in good hands and there is a seamless transition. So, yes, I am considering it.”
The respective parties do have some time to pick candidates, but petitions will hit the streets in late February so it will be a busy month for politicos.
Also up for grabs this year are three Town Board seats, currently held by Democrats Jeffers, Linda Murphy and David Green, who in 2019 changed his enrollment from Republican to Democrat. In 2019, voters elected two Republicans, Rick Field and Danielle Futia, and one Democrat, Jill Penn, to the board. There is not a ward or district system in Colonie and all candidates run at large. The four-year, part time position pays $21,479 per year with the deputy supervisor, a position picked by the board, paying $21,918.
The two-year term of Republicans Town Clerk Julie Gansle and the four-year term Receiver of Taxes Michelle Zilgme are also up this year as are two four year seats on the town bench held by Republicans Andrew Sommers and Norman Massry are also up.