Schenectady County

Discord plagues Rotterdam Town Board politics

Productive discourse hasn’t been a hallmark of the Rotterdam Town Board over the past year.

Productive discourse hasn’t been a hallmark of the Rotterdam Town Board over the past year.

Wayne Calder

OFFICE SOUGHT: Rotterdam Town Board

AGE: 67

BALLOT LINES: Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families parties, Re-unite Rotterdam

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree from Schenectady County Community College, former deputy chief of the Rotterdam Police Department

PERSONAL: Wife, son and daughter

William Cooke

OFFICE SOUGHT: Rotterdam Town Board

AGE: 64

BALLOT LINES: Rotterdam First

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Attended Adirondack Community College and The College of Saint Rose; former Rotterdam Democratic Committee chairman

PERSONAL: Wife and four children

Delores Doriguzzi

OFFICE SOUGHT: Rotterdam Town Board

AGE: 76

BALLOT LINES: Rotterdam First

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Former town justice, attended Schenectady County Community College

PERSONAL: Husband and three children

Chris Tomaselli


AGE: 32

BALLOT LINES: Republican, No New Tax Party

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Union College, New York Chiropractic College; owns Rotterdam Family Chiropractic

PERSONAL: Wife and son

Joe Villano


AGE: 33

BALLOT LINES: Republican, No New Tax Party.

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Siena College, Albany Law School, private law practice

PERSONAL: Married, with a son and daughter

Mike Viscusi


AGE: 52

BALLOT LINES: Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families parties, Re-unite Rotterdam

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Received Dale Carnegie management training, supervisor of resource recovery, Golub Corp.

PERSONAL: Married with two daughters

Supervisor Frank Del Gallo and Deputy Supervisor Robert Godlewski are frequently in conflict with the rest of the board. Public meetings are characterized by quarreling and drawn-out discussions that often result in resolutions being tabled.

“The board has not been working together,” acknowledged Wayne Calder, an incumbent Democrat running for his first full four-year term. “We spend too much time bickering and not enough time doing work.”

Up for election this year, besides town supervisor, are two Town Board seats being sought by six candidates.

Democrats are claiming they have the right mix of prospective board members to foster cooperation and communication.

Calder and Conservative Michael Viscusi are running on the Democratic ticket with supervisor candidate Harry Buffardi. Meanwhile, the Rotterdam Republicans are hoping to secure a presence on the board after an intraparty schism that saw them lose every town office except highway superintendent and town justice during the 2009 election.

Newcomers Joe Villano and Chris Tomaselli are running on a ticket with Brian McGarry, the Republican candidate for supervisor. If all three win, the Republicans could secure a narrow majority on the board, which will have at least two Democrats for the next two years.

Longshot candidates

But the board could also end up with a pair of wildcard candidates. William Cooke and Delores Doriguzzi are running on the Rotterdam First line along with Del Gallo, but the independent party ticket is considered a long shot.

Cooke and Doriguzzi didn’t turn out for the League of Women Voters’ candidates forum in October. Doriguzzi said she wasn’t even actively campaigning because of a health issue.

“I’m really not running,” she said, while acknowledging she’d accept a seat if elected. Cooke, the former Rotterdam Democratic Committee chairman, did not return calls.

Calder was elected to finish out the remaining year on Michael Della Villa’s term in 2010. In his first term, Calder was struck by the frequent discord between the board and the Del Gallo administration. He said this inability to work with one another stifled any meaningful progress in the town

“The only way to accomplish something is to have a board that works together,” he said.

If re-elected, Calder said he’d push for better communication between the supervisor’s office and the board. He said the board should participate in the budget process, instead of being excluded like they were when Del Gallo created his 2012 tentative spending plan.

“This should have been done by the whole board in general,” he said, “This is what we want to correct.”

Calder said the board should also be kept abreast of contract talks with the town’s two major unions — the town’s chapter of CSEA and the Rotterdam Police Benevolent Association. And he wants the board to work together to lure new companies to town or encourage existing once to expand.

“We’ve spent too much time bickering and not enough time doing work,” he said.

Calder would also like to see greater cooperation between Rotterdam and other towns. He said sharing services could help relieve some of the burden on taxpayers in the long term. “We’re not an island by ourselves anymore.”

Viscusi said he’s prepared to work with the other members of the board to “implement fiscally sound and efficient policies” for Rotterdam. He pledged to bring “honesty, integrity and accountability” to the board, while working to reduce the tax burden.

“High taxes in Rotterdam are becoming a burden on taxpayers and are forcing people out of their homes,” he said. “I will work to create a town budget that balances the needs of our town with what the community can afford.”

Tax load

The two Republicans stressed the need to reduce the tax burden on businesses and residents and to help foster responsible growth in the town. Villano said high taxes have been a primary issue affecting the town for the past decade.

“It’s wringing out the residents and creating generally anti-business atmosphere,” he said. “People are absolutely averse to the creation of new taxes.”

Villano said the savings can start with a better reliance on department heads to trim budgets and suggests more could be done to explore shared services with other municipalities. Villano sees areas where the town can achieve savings through the union contracts. He said pension payments and overtime alone have contributed to the police department’s large budget.

“We really need a renegotiation of those contracts so that they are fair to not only those public servants, but also the taxpayers for a change.”

Villano also objected to the board’s recent move to use fund balances from the town’s special districts to restore 16 positions that were cut in Del Gallo’s tentative budget. He said the board should have taken a hard look at whether the jobs are needed and at least shed those that were due to be lost through attrition.

“You can’t pillage the special districts,” he said. “This really doesn’t seem like a cautious method forward.”

Tomaselli said Rotterdam is at a crossroads, and the Democratic rule that has dominated Schenectady and the county government is beginning in the town. “Rotterdam needs representatives that will stand up for the taxpayers, not party loyalists toeing the line or politicians with personal agendas,” he said.

If elected, Tomaselli said, he’d seek ways to bring in additional revenue, such as the more than $100,000 in reimbursements that could be billed to patients treated by the town-funded paramedic service.

Tomaselli also said a key step in advancing the town would be to clean up some of its blighted areas.

“Eyesores are becoming more abundant and our sidewalks are overgrown with weeds and cluttered with litter,” he said. “Rotterdam’s appearance should reflect its ‘Nice place to live’ motto.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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