COLONIE — A new name has emerged as a potential candidate to replace the retiring Supervisor Paula Mahan — Tom Nardacci.
While the president and CEO of Gramercy Communications, a public relations firm with offices in Troy and Albany, who also has busy work share enterprise with real estate in three cities, said the timing wasn’t right, there are those in the Democratic Party backing his candidacy behind the scenes.
“I think someday I will explore public service,” he said. “I’ve definitely found myself trying to be more active and vocal on public issued and being frustrated by the limits of advocate or community voice and not a decision maker.”
Nardacci started Gramercy in 2005 after working public relations in Washington and New York City. In 2016 he opened the Troy Innovation Garage, a co-working office building on Fourth Street and the idea took off. In 2019 he opened a similar facility, the Bull Moose Club, on State Street in Albany and in early 2020 he opened a facility in Providence, Rhode Island, the Westwey Club.
Like all businesses, particularly those that encourage intermingling, Nardacci’s is struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic. With the economy soft across the board and a newfound “stay at home” for recreation and work mentality, a burgeoning company offering shared office space is more susceptible to the ramifications of COVID.
That could make Nardacci more willing or less willing to run for the $123,000 post.
“I think my business interests would make it too hard right now to run for this particular office,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to set things up quick enough to run unencumbered, especially as we try to navigate the next few months of the pandemic and protecting my employee’s jobs.”
But, there are not clear front runners in either political party either, and it is a position coveted by both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have held the town since Mahan upset entrenched incumbent Mary Brizzell in 2007. Prior to that, Colonie was the bastion of Republican strength in Democratic-dominated Albany County and the GOP have been looking to get it back for 14 years.
Nardacci served on the Planning Board from about 2009 to 2011 and was recently appointed to the Airport Authority Board and the newly formed Albany County LDC.
He is also no stranger to running for office. When he was 23 he became the youngest person elected to the Rensselaer City Council, his home town, and in 2001 lost a run for that city’s mayor to Republican Mark Pratt by about 150 votes in one of the nastiest, hardest fought races in the Capital District.
Nardacci did try to stay above the fray but the ancillary support cast on both sides were just nasty. The race had little to do with Democrats and Republicans, and instead pitted family against family, the police department against the chief and the river city of some 7,000 was split nearly in half.
He also comes from a long line of public service. His mom Maureen was a long time City Clerk in Rensselaer and his grandfather and aunt were elected to the Rensselaer City Council. He used to work for Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari and for U.S. Rep Mike McNulty, so he knows the ins and outs of politics and campaigns and how government works.
“I will say that the idea of building off what Paula Mahan has accomplished and bringing my innovative experience is an intriguing thought,” he said. “And I enjoyed the time I spent on the Colonie Planning Board. But the timing isn’t right.”
Petitions do hit the streets in less than a month, but the election isn’t until November and so much can happen — with COVID and otherwise — between now and then.
Other potential candidates for the Democrats include Pete Gannon, who worked for Mahan and is now president and CEO of the United Way of the Capital Region, Melissa Jeffers, a of the Capital Region, Melissa Jeffers, a member of the Town Board, Kate Mateja, who used to work in the town Planning Department, Nancy Hernandez, who was Mahan’s deputy on the Town Board who now works for the Comptroller’s Office and David Green, a member of the Town Board who recently changed his enrollment from Republican Party to Democrat.
Potential Republican candidates include Peter Crummey, who is the town’s senior court judge, Jennifer Whalen, who was on the Town Board and who now serves on the county Legislature, Frank Mauriello, who is the minority leader on the County Legislature and who against Mahan four years ago, County Legislature Peter Tunny, who served on the Town Board from 1996 to 2003, George Scaringe, who was the town and county GOP chair and who narrowly lost to Mahan two years ago, Town Board member Rick Field and Town Clerk Julie Gansle.