Schenectady County

GOP challenges Democratic control of Scotia village government

Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg is being challenged for re-election by a Republican with extensive experi


Patrick Aragosa

Age: 58

Party endorsements: Republican, Revitalize Scotia

Occupation: Glenville receiver of taxes

Personal: Married, three children

Kris Kastberg

Age: 57

Party endorsements: Democratic, Conservative, Working Families, Independence

Occupation: Retired technology teacher

Personal: Married, one child


Jill Dunster-Wesley

Age: 60

Party endorsements:

Republican, Revitalize Scotia

Occupation: Dispatcher, toll collector for state Thruway Authority

Personal: Married, six children

Keven Mathes

Age: 38

Party endorsements: Republican, Revitalize Scotia

Occupation: Vice president at KeyBank

Personal: Married, four children

Joe Rizzo

Age: 61

Party endorsements: Democratic, Working Families, Conservative, Independence

Occupation: Mechanic at Loomis

Personal: Married, three children

Gregg Zeman

Age: 47

Party endorsements: Democratic, Conservative, Working Families

Occupation: Senior designer at General Electric

Personal: Married, two children

Village justice

Theodore “Chip” Cayer Jr.

Age: 50

Party endorsements: Republican, Revitalize Scotia

Occupation: Security guard and Scotia-Glenville school bus driver, retired Scotia police officer

Personal: Married, four children

Jason Frament

Age: 40

Party endorsements: Democratic, Conservative, Independence, Working Families, Green

Occupation: Private practice attorney

Personal: One child

Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg is being challenged for re-election by a Republican with extensive experience in government finance who promises to pass a budget that stays under the state tax cap for the first time in three years.

Kastberg, a Democrat, is seeking a third four-year term. His opponent, Patrick Aragosa, is the part-time receiver of taxes for the town of Glenville, a job he says he would keep if elected mayor.

Aragosa is running alongside two other Republicans, Jill Dunster-Wesley and Keven Mathes, who hope to unseat two Democrats, Joe Rizzo and Gregg Zeman, on the village Board of trustees. The five-member board is currently all-Democrat.

All candidates are seeking four-year terms at the polls Tuesday.

“I think we all have been in the village long enough to appreciate what the village has to offer to residents, so we want to continue to see our village thrive,” said Aragosa, 58. “We don’t want to see people taxed out of their homes, and we want to make it a better place to live.”

Before becoming tax receiver in January 2012, Aragosa served as Rotterdam town comptroller from 1998 to 2011 and as Scotia village treasurer from 1983 to 1998.

“I think with my expertise in knowing and understanding the budget and the budget process, I’m going to make that a top priority while I’m there,” Aragosa said of passing a budget under the cap.

The current $8.64 million budget, passed in April, increased taxes 1.99 percent, which required an override vote by the board because the tax cap was set at 1.48 percent for the village. The 2013-2014 budget raised taxes by 3.2 percent — also above the village’s tax cap, which was 2.5 percent at the time.

Kastberg said he would try to pass a budget that stays under the cap, especially since it would make taxpayers eligible for a state rebate, which goes into effect for villages next year. He said staying under the cap does not allow the village to maintain its current level of services and programs, however, especially when only 15 percent of the budget is discretionary spending.

“It’s always a goal of ours to comply, but it’s also a goal to do what’s best for the village,” he said.

To stay within the cap last year, the village would have had to cut from the popular sidewalk and summer recreation programs, Kastberg said.

“I would ask my opponent what programs he is going to get rid of to maintain the 2-percent tax increase every year,” he said.

Agarosa said he would take a hard look at areas where overlapping services could be shared with the town of Glenville. He noted the village and town have separate parks, highway and police departments but said he’s not focusing on “any one group.”

“We have to look at everything,” he said.

Aragosa said he’s confident he could find the savings needed to stay under the cap. The board was about $18,000 shy of staying under the cap last year, he said.

“Let’s be honest here — $18,000 is a drop in the bucket, so it should have been done,” he said.

Kastberg, a retired Scotia-Glenville High School technology teacher, said he is proud of the quality-of-life improvements he has made in his second term as mayor. Within the last four years, the village has upgraded the fire department’s paramedic program, created a community garden at Flint House, secured more than $600,000 in grant funding for home improvements, passed a “do not vend” law to discourage door-to-door vendors and invested in its roads, he said.

“When I first got elected, you couldn’t drive the streets in the village, they were so bad,” he said.

If re-elected, he said he would work to improve the police and fire department facilities, which he said are “very, very old, and very, very outdated.”

He said he enjoys being mayor, and his philosophy for governing is “if this was happening next door to you or on your street, how would you expect the village government to take care of it?”

“I’m retired now. I could go fishing every day,” he said. “But I get up and go to Village Hall. That’s just because I have a drive to make the village better.”

Aragosa said he has always been “the guy behind the scenes,” working for mayors and town supervisors, and he’s ready to be at the helm.

“It’s important to me as a resident to get involved,” he said. “You can’t sit back and complain and not get involved.”

Trustee seats

Rizzo has been a village trustee for 12 years, and Zeman was appointed in December 2013 when Rory Fluman left the board to join the Schenectady County Legislature.

If re-elected, Rizzo said he would work with department heads to try to pass a budget below the cap. But he said he isn’t willing to reduce the village’s level of services to achieve that.

“I try to do my best to try to hold things down without cutting services, because once you start cutting services, 10 times out of 10, you never get them back,” he said.

Zeman said the village gets a good bang for its buck.

“I’m willing, personally, to pay to maintain that service,” he said.

Their Republican opponents, Mathes and Dunster-Wesley, both say taxes need to stay below the cap.

“It is something that is so easily met with just a little bit of work,” said Dunster-Wesley, a dispatcher and toll collector for the state Thruway Authority.

Mathes, a vice president at KeyBank, said attracting more businesses to Mohawk Avenue would help keep taxes in check while also revitalizing the village.

“We have some great businesses down there already, but we need to look at bringing in more,” he said.

Village justice

A retired Scotia police officer is challenging Jason Frament, who has been village justice since 2006, for a four-year term.

Theodore “Chip” Cayer, a Republican, said he’s already familiar with the court system from his 21 years of experience as a village police officer. He also said he would be available and willing to work the odd hours the job requires.

“I’ve been on the other end of the phone when you’re trying to get a judge at 3 in the morning,” he said.

As a police officer, he said he tried to treat everyone he dealt with “as if I was in the same situation,” an approach he said he would bring to the bench.

“I’m willing to look at every side compassionately and decide each case on its merits,” he said.

Frament said he is proud of the improvements he has made to the courtroom since 2006, including a new bench, new interlocking chairs, a security door with bulletproof glass and security cameras, all of which have been funded through state grants.

“Sometimes you’re dealing with people who are extremely emotional, and you never know what can happen,” he said, adding the security measures also act as a deterrent.

He also worked to save the court when consolidation with Glenville Town Court was proposed early this year and agreed to eliminate his own benefits for an annual savings of $18,000.

Frament, an attorney in private practice, said fairness and knowledge of the law are important qualities for a judge to have.

“Over the years, I’ve been fair,” he said. “I try to see both sides and use the law to make rational decisions.”

Cayer said Frament was on the bench when he was a police officer, and he has no problems with how his opponent runs the court.

“The Republicans asked me to run, and I think I could do a good job,” Cayer said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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