Three candidates campaign to replace veteran Rotterdam town clerk

Rotterdam voters will choose among a seasoned political veteran and two newcomers when electing a re

Rotterdam voters will choose among a seasoned political veteran and two newcomers when electing a replacement for longtime Town Clerk Eunice Esposito in November.

Democrat Diane Marco will challenge Andrea Commarto, a Conservative running on the Republican ticket, for the remaining two years on Esposito’s term.

The 84-year-old clerk resigned in July, 18 months after she was sworn in for her unprecedented 11th term and 15 months after she took a leave of absence from the office.

A third candidate intends to wage a write-in campaign for the clerk’s position. Todd Koza, who waged an unsuccessful Conservative primary for a Town Board seat this month, intends to promote himself as an alternative to the major party candidates.

Marco, 60, also received an endorsement from the Conservative Party and will appear on the independent Lower Tax Now line. The retired Sunmark Credit Union employee and two-term Town Board member now works part time for Schenectady’s Finance Department, a job she plans to leave if she’s elected.

Marco also served as the Rotterdam Senior Center project coordinator before being fired by Supervisor Frank Del Gallo in February. Del Gallo never publicly gave a reason for the termination, sparking outrage among some of the town’s elderly.

If elected, Marco pledged to modernize the systems in the clerk’s office using assistance from longtime Schenectady County Clerk John Woodward, who undertook the same process in his office. She said her experience in public office makes her an ideal candidate for the seat.

“Residents are important for me,” she said of her outlook for the position. “They become number one.”

Commarto, 50, said she decided to run after being approached by the town’s Republican Committee. She said the fact that she’s new to politics didn’t bother the party.

“They said they wanted to keep politics out of the clerk’s office,” she said.

Commarto does want to bring a friendly and courteous attitude to the office. She’s worked in customer service for more than 25 years, most recently with Million Air, a private jet service operating out of Albany International Airport.

If elected, Commarto said she would help maintain a bright and helpful atmosphere at the office. And more importantly, she’d keep political agendas from creeping into the clerk’s day-to-day business.

“It’s not about politics,” she said. “It’s about the people of Rotterdam.”

Koza decided to run for the position after it initially appeared the Republicans wouldn’t field a candidate. The party finally announced Commarto as their choice last Tuesday, just before the deadline to submit a candidate.

Koza said he plans to run a lean campaign and will not accept any financial support for his run. If elected, he pledged to bring a “nonpolitical attitude” to the office and implement a number of vital upgrades.

“I would upgrade the computer system, scan documents for easier access, process Town Board meeting minutes in a timely manner, open the office for extended hours, be able accept debit cards and provide outstanding customer service to the residents,” he said in an email Wednesday.

Esposito, a fixture in Town Hall for nearly four decades and an official roundly beloved throughout Rotterdam, abruptly left office in February 2010. Michelle Gannon was later named her deputy and has fulfilled the office’s duties ever since.

Months after Esposito stopped coming to work, town officials maintained she was on medical leave. But as an elected official, Esposito was under no obligation to file for a leave of absence and could have continued collecting the office’s $53,350 annual salary throughout the duration of her term.

In late July, Esposito tendered her official resignation. In the three-page, occasionally caustic letter, the longtime Democrat cited the effect of politics on her health as the driving reason for her resignation and that “unscrupulous people” were making unwarranted attacks on her to further their own agendas.

Gannon was appointed to finish out the year as the interim town clerk last month, but said she had no interest in running for the office. Major parties had to wait until the day after the primaries two weeks ago to name a candidate. The deadline was Tuesday to submit their nominees to the county Board of Elections.

Categories: Schenectady County

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