Schenectady County

Four candidates vie for District 1 Legislature seats

Tax relief, neighborhood revitalization, consolidation of services and the Glendale Home are among k

Tax relief, neighborhood revitalization, consolidation of services and the Glendale Home are among key issues four candidates running for two seats on the Schenectady County Legislature in District 1 said they would address if elected Nov. 8.

Peter Guidarelli

OFFICE SOUGHT: Schenectady County Legislature District 1

AGE: 44

BALLOT LINES: Republican, Conservative, Alliance

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Graduated Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School and St. Michael’s College; city councilman 2004-05, Schenectady County Legislature 1996-2003; Legislature chairman 2002-03; owner of The Villa Restaurant, Rotterdam; president of the Business Development Group, a business consulting group; development director, part time, of the Warren Washington ARC

PERSONAL: Married to Christina, two children

Robert Hoffman

OFFICE SOUGHT: Schenectady County Legislator District 1

AGE: 59

BALLOT LINES: Democratic, Working Families

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Graduated Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School, Niagara University, Stetson University College of Law; appointed to fill vacancy on Schenectady County Legislature in June 2011; attorney in private practice since 1977; lector, extraordinary minister and legal adviser, St. John the Evangelist parish;

PERSONAL: Married to Catherine Woods, three sons

Rich Patierne

OFFICE SOUGHT: Schenectady County Legislator District 1

AGE: 45

BALLOT LINES: Republican, Independence, Alliance

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Graduate of Linton High School and Schenectady County Community College; Republican committeeman; member of Northside Little League from 1982-2008, serving as president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, trustee, manager and coach; member of Schenectady Babe Ruth Baseball League from 2008-10, serving as manager, coach and board member

PERSONAL: Married with two children

Michael Petta

OFFICE SOUGHT: Schenectady County Legislature District 1

AGE: 59

BALLOT LINES: Democrat, Independence, Conservative, Working Families

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from LeMoyne College; City Council 1999-2003, was chairman of City Council Finance Committee; two-term member of county Legislature, former chairman of Ways and Means Committee, chairman of Environmental Conservation and Parks Committee

PERSONAL: Separated, one child

Seeking seats to represent the northern half of the city are Republican Peter Guidarelli, Democrat Robert Hoffman, Republican Rich Patierne and Democrat Michael Petta. Majority Democrats appointed Hoffman in June to the county Legislature after Democrat Vincent DiCerbo resigned when he moved to Saratoga County. Petta is seeking his third term. Guidarelli is a former chairman of the county Legislature, and Patierne is making his first bid for public office.

Terms are for four years. Legislators receive a stipend of $15,499, plus the option of health insurance. Leadership positions pay a higher stipend.

This year, nine seats on the 15-seat board are in play. Democrats control 12 of the 15 seats, Republicans two. The lone Conservative on the board caucuses with the Democrats.

For this story, the District 1 candidates were asked to identify two major issues facing residents of Schenectady County and how they would address them. They were also asked why residents should vote for them.

Peter Guidarelli

Guidarelli identified consolidation and mandate relief as key issues in the county. “The city and county should be working collaboratively to consolidate any and all services that could assure effective delivery of service at a savings to the taxpayer while never compromising the level of service the taxpayers need and deserve,” he said.

Guidarelli identified these departments for possible consolidation: emergency communications center, purchasing, highway and assessment.

He said he would work with the New York State Association of Counties on ways to ease Schenectady County out of its Medicaid responsibility and place the responsibility with the state. He said the county would see a direct cost savings of $34 million if the state took over 100 percent responsibility for funding local Medicaid costs. He said this would help lower the tax burden within the county.

“Given the recent completion of the governor’s Medicaid redesign team’s efforts over the past several months, the timing is appropriate to work with the state on Medicaid reform as it relates to the impact on the counties,” he said.

Guidarelli said residents should vote for him because he is a lifelong resident of the county with experience as a volunteer and a businessman. “As a businessman, I understand what our small businesses need and the challenges they face to keep their doors open everyday,” he said.

He said his prior experience on the City Council and county Legislature helps him understand “the needs of the city taxpayers and what it takes to represent and fight for them, including [seeking an] increase in the sales tax share for city residents.”

Guidarelli said his personal, business and public service records are of working cooperatively with different people and organizations, “regardless of who they are or what their political affiliation is, to work for the good of the community.”

Robert Hoffman

Hoffman said the county-owned Glendale Home and neighborhood revitalization are the two most important issues facing residents of Schenectady County.

Regarding the Glendale Home, a skilled nursing facility, Hoffman said the county should build a new 200-bed facility on Hetcheltown Road at an estimated cost of $50.5 million. “The county was faced with a decision to build new or close by 2013, due to mandated building codes. The current campus is largely inefficient and antiquated,” he said.

“The Glendale Home is an important part of the continuum of care for our residents. It provides quality care for all residents, but especially it is available to those who are Medicaid-eligible and difficult to place and consequently may not have the ability of choice,” he said.

The new facility will be more efficient and offer quality service in a more attractive environment, Hoffman said. “The economic margins of operation will continue to be narrowed and the citizens of our county, [who may not have] the ability to choose their final home, will be able to live in comfort and with dignity, close to relatives and friends,” he said.

To revitalize neighborhoods, Hoffman said the county should encourage home ownership by cleaning up vacant lots and blighted buildings; provide partial property tax exemptions on newly constructed homes purchased by income-eligible, first-time home buyers, as well as exemptions on home improvements up to a value of $80,000; use the new Land Bank law to assist investment in rundown properties; make neighborhoods safer by passing dog control legislation; work with neighborhood groups; and improve parks and youth programs.

Hoffman said residents should vote for him because of his more than three decades of legal experience and years of volunteerism. “I love Schenectady and am willing to invest my time and abilities to make it the best place possible to live and raise a family,” he said.

Rich Patierne

Patierne said he had a hard time picking the two most important issues facing residents of Schenectady County. “There are so many,” he said. In the end, he singled out taxes and quality-of-life issues within the city’s neighborhoods.

He said “tackling the issue of taxes is no easy fix and will not happen overnight. Schenectady County has one of the highest taxes in the Capital Region and in New York state, so we have to put a plan together to limit spending, consolidate services wherever possible and recruit businesses to locate here in Schenectady to broaden our tax base.”

To do this, Patierne suggested offering small business loans to attract people to Schenectady and to retain young adults just getting out of local colleges. “Another thing to reduce taxes would be to sell our city water to our neighboring towns, cashing in on this wonderful resource,” he said.

To address quality-of-life issues within the neighborhoods, he said, “We need to make the people in our neighborhoods feel safe again. We can do this by following through with the Safe Schenectady Safer initiative [a Republican initiative] and work collaboratively with city police and the county Sheriff’s Department to develop constructive and effective ways to reduce crime and take back our streets.”

Patierne said efforts should be made to demolish dangerous and dilapidated buildings, which he called eyesores that discourage potential buyers from investing in the city. “We can also develop a plan to convert two-family houses into one-family houses to promote homeownership and replace absentee landlords who do not take care of their properties with proud homeowners,” he said.

He said residents should vote for him because he is a lifelong resident of the city who “cares deeply about the place that I live.” He called himself a person who sees a need for a change.

“I am not a seasoned politician with all the politically correct answers that some people want to hear. I am a citizen and a taxpayer [who] if elected will make county government a transparent and open process that any average person, like myself and so many others, can understand,” he said.

To promote transparency, he would sponsor “listening tours” throughout his term for residents to voice concerns to him. “I have a proven track record in every organization that I’ve been involved with to make necessary changes during hard times. The way to do that is to listen to our constituents and the people that work for Schenectady County and hear what things can be done differently,” Patierne said.

Michael Petta

Petta said he sees the two biggest issues facing the county as controlling taxes and revitalizing the city’s neighborhoods.

“We need mandate relief, but how do we get the state to take on more when it is broke? It has been suggested that if state takes over Medicaid, it will want our sales tax revenues,” he said.

Petta said he hopes the state does not go that route.

The county depends on the sales tax, which will total $88 million in 2012, to stabilize its budget and offset the Glendale Home’s deficit, which will be approximately $7 million in 2012.

Petta said one way to stabilize neighborhoods is to remove excess housing stock. “It is a breeding ground for absentee landlords, and most absent landlords are not responsible for maintaining their homes,” he said.

He said the Metroplex Development Authority and the county should work together to demolish derelict housing stock in city neighborhoods.

Petta said residents should vote for him because of his business experience and efforts to revitalize the local economy. “I think we have done a good job with rebuilding the economy. There have been a number of jobs created, but we also lost jobs. We have a professional economic development team now, rather than the alphabet soup we used to have,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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