Write-ins hope to have impact on Amsterdam supervisor races

Each election year, a few people find their names written onto the ballot whether they’re candidates

Each election year, a few people find their names written onto the ballot whether they’re candidates or not.

Karl Baia

OFFICE SOUGHT: Fifth Ward supervisor

AGE: 29

BALLOT LINES: Republican, Conservative

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Marketing consultant, CF & AS LLC; Incumbent Fifth Ward supervisor in second term

PERSONAL: Single, one child

Michael Chiara

OFFICE SOUGHT: Fifth Ward supervisor.

AGE: 64


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Former assessor, city of Amsterdam; former chairman, Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency


Arlene Bronski

OFFICE SOUGHT: Fourth Ward supervisor

AGE: 68


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Studied philosophy, sociology at Union College; participant, JFK School of Government Economics and Environment program; retired state DEC environmental program specialist

PERSONAL: Married, one daughter, one stepson, three grandchildren

Barbara Wheeler

OFFICE SOUGHT: Fourth Ward supervisor

AGE: 38


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: A.A.S., General Studies/History, FMCC; incumbent Fourth Ward supervisor, member of Education/Government Committee

PERSONAL: Single, one child

This year, three are running “write-in” campaigns in Amsterdam with hopes of shaking up the election for major-party candidates or those who are otherwise running unopposed.

They include 4th Ward Alderman William Wills, who is running for mayor of Amsterdam against incumbent Ann Thane and former Mayor Joseph Emanuele III.

Fifth Ward Supervisor Karl Baia and 4th Ward Supervisor Barbara Wheeler, both Republicans, were set for an easy Election Day before write-in candidates Michael Chiara and Arlene Bronski decided to launch an election bid.

Chiara, a former chairman of Amsterdam’s Industrial Development Agency who played a role in devising the city’s 3 percent tax cap, said citizens need somebody to represent them with a passion.

“I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t take no for an answer. I think the idea is to think differently and be tenacious and say no, we have to do something. The taxpayers need a break,” he said.

If elected, Chiara said he intends to pore through the county budget, find cuts and make sure residents understand what’s going on.

“The idea is to bring the government back to the populace,” he said.

He said taxpayers deserve research and “real, viable plans,” not rhetoric.

Chiara said he would work to streamline county government.

His opponent, incumbent Karl Baia, said he’s campaigning based on his record as a supervisor for two, two-year terms.

“I’ve consistently voted to cut waste out of the budget, I voted to cut over $1 million out of the budget, and I’ve consistently voted for smaller government,” Baia said.

He cites his work on the county board’s economic development committee which helped create more than 150 jobs at places like Hill & Markes, Richardson Brands and Breton Industries.

“I’m a big believer in shared services. I was pushing shared services from the day I got on the board,” Baia said.

He supports studying consolidation at the county Board as well, where a committee he’s on is exploring the possibility of legislative districts.

Baia declined to comment on the scandal involving himself and fellow Supervisor Barbara Wheeler, his girlfriend.

Baia was charged with second-degree burglary, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal mischief by the Amsterdam Police Department on Aug. 26.

Police in a news release accused Baia of breaking into the front door and yelling at the “victim,” who turned out to be Wheeler.

“It’s been exaggerated, embellished upon and it’s blown way out of proportion,” he said.

Wheeler, who is seeking her second two-year term representing the city’s 4th Ward on the county Board, said if re-elected she would work toward government consolidation, staying within the state’s 2 percent cap on property tax increases and helping the city continue demolishing dilapidated buildings.

She said senior citizens make up more than 60 percent of the city’s 4th Ward.

“I will always fight for the youth and the senior citizens in Montgomery County,” Wheeler said.

She said she intends to work to reduce taxes by striving for shared services. “It’s working smarter not harder. We can’t just keep talking about it, we have to do something about it.”

“I do this because I’m a mother and I’m raising my child in the city of Amsterdam,” Wheeler said.

She too declined to comment on the scandal that erupted in August, and would only say sensationalizing personal situations is one part of politics that “sickens the public.”

Complicating Wheeler’s campaign is Amsterdam resident Arlene Bronski, a former administrator at the state Department of Environmental Conservation who is offering constituents the option of voting for “just a regular person.”

“I pay taxes … I understand the difficulties that [taxpayers] may be facing,” she said.

“I want to work together with the Board of Supervisors but I don’t want things to be business as usual by any means,” she said.

Bronski said her focus is strong law enforcement, maintaining the roads and “above all, reduce the tax burden on all the residents.”

Residents, she said, think government is out of control.

“It’s way too big; that’s the primary comment” she hears while campaigning.

Democrat Jeff Stark is unopposed in the race for 2nd Ward alderman. He will be on the Republican line as well, having mounted a successful write-in primary campaign.

Also running unopposed is 1st Ward Supervisor Republican Vito Greco and 3rd Ward Supervisor Ronald Barone Sr.

Categories: Schenectady County

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