Schenectady County

Duanesburg highway superintendent running as write-in

Steve Perog acknowledges his three-year tenure as highway superintendent has been tumultuous.

Steve Perog acknowledges his three-year tenure as highway superintendent has been tumultuous.

He battled with the Town Board throughout his term, complaining his department was chronically underfunded. He also ran afoul of some legal issues while running the department, including a union grievance from workers and a lawsuit by the town accusing him of overspending his budget.

But you can’t argue with results, the outspoken Perog said. Since taking office, he claims he’s done more to improve the condition of the town’s roads than any other highway superintendent has over the past decade.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. “Like me or hate me, I’m getting the job done.”

That doesn’t mean winning another four-year term will be easy for him. The incumbent lost the Democratic primary to challenger William Reed, meaning he won’t have a line on the ballot next month.

Reed, who owns a local contracting business will appear on both the Democratic and Working Parties lines. He’s being challenged by Town Board member Phil Carlson, a truck driver who secured nominations from the Republicans, the Conservatives, and the Independence Party.

Perog claims he lost the mid-September primary because he was too busy cleaning up damage left by the late-summer flood to go campaigning. He believes he has enough support in the community to wage a write-in campaign that will defeat both Reed and Carlson.

“I definitely think I’m going to win,” he said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time.”

Reed said he’d bring greater stability to the highway department and a good report with the board. He said both have been lacking under Perog.

“I intend to bring some integrity back to the department,” he said

Reed also believes he can buck the trend of highway superintendents that have clashed with the board. He said his ability to hear both sides of an argument should help him get along with the board.

“I’ve always been willing to listen and willing to compromise,” he said.

Reed also said he’s willing to work within the budget set by the Town Board. He understands the department could benefit by an expanded budget, but doesn’t believe the answer is in raising taxes.

“We’re all squeezed,” he said. “We’re a small town and we don’t need any more increases in taxes here.”

Carlson, who is finishing his eighth year on the Town Board, credited Perog for improving some roads in town. But he said Perog lacked the ability to spend within his budget and created a void of leadership in the department that has worn on morale among its four employees.

Perog recently resolved a lawsuit the town filed against him for overspending his 2010 budget by $92,000. The agreement resulted in him paying $5,700 back to the town.

Carlson believes he can do better with the budget provided by the board. He said Perog’s fiscal irresponsibility has made it difficult for him to work within the confines of a tight budget.

“He’s had the operating capital to do maintenance to the roads to do maintenance to the truck,” he said. “I just think he’s fiscally irresponsible with his money.”

Carlson said he’d also bring a unique perspective to the department, since he’s already seen its operation from being a board member. If elected, he said he’d bring more cooperation between the department and the board.

“It’s time to bring some cooperation back,” he said,

Duanesburg voters will also be selecting a new town justice during next month’s election. Former justice Rita LaBelle, a Republican, is not running for re-election.

Camille Siano Enders, an attorney who lost to LaBelle in 2007, is making her third bid for the justice position on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines. She is being challenged by Seymour VanderVeen, the owner of Seven View Farms, who defeated Enders in primary races for Republican and Conservative nominations.

Categories: Schenectady County

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