The executive committee of the Schenectady County Democrats has endorsed Brendan Savage over two other contenders for an open seat on the County Legislature.
Savage, a 21-year-old Siena College student who has been politically active, won the committee endorsement over Omar Sterling McGill and Dharam “Junior” Hitlall for the seat representing the city being given up by Legislator Peggy King, who did not seek re-election.
“Brendan Savage gave a very good presentation. He seemed to grasp the issues and understand the issues we are facing,” said county Democratic Chairman Joe Landry.
McGill, a lifelong resident of the city and acting chairman of the county Civil Rights Commission who works for the state Senate, said he plans to stay in the race and will circulate petitions to force a party primary in June. Hitlall, a former member of the Schenectady Board of Education, said he also will remain in the race.
The executive committee also endorsed retired Scotia police chief Peter Frisoni for a seat representing District 3. Grant Socha of Glenville is not seeking re-election this year, creating a vacancy there.
Savage, whose mother, Susan Savage, is a former county legislator, said his focus is on trying to improve Schenectady neighborhoods, which many residents feel have been neglected as the city and county have sought to redevelop downtown Schenectady. District 1 generally covers the western and northern parts of the city, including downtown and the Stockade.
“One of the more popular planks of my platform was to have our county government spearhead efforts to finally attract a grocery store to District 1, which is the only District in our county without a major grocery store,” Savage said in a statement. “Much of District 1 is federally designated as a food desert.
“I am thankful for the committee’s overwhelming support for my message of neighborhood revitalization,” Savage said. “I believe voters want this campaign to be positive and issue-oriented, and for candidates to provide real solutions for how to improve our neighborhoods and improve their quality of life. That is what my campaign will be about.”
Savage, who turns 22 in March, will graduate from Siena later this year after taking a semester off last year to volunteer for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. He is also a member of the city and county Democratic committees.
“He’s got a lot of experience,” Landry said. “He participates in the political process. He’s a young man and very energetic. We’re looking for him to help reach young people and get young people to participate.”
McGill said he wouldn’t comment directly on the endorsement decision.
“This week we launched our campaign and my focus over the next few weeks will be to bring the issues that my District 1 community cares about to the forefront,” he said. “I grew up in District 1 and know the needs of the district. I just want to run for my community, neighbors and family because our voices matter. No matter who my opponents are I feel that my experience and my values will lead the voters to me in the end. The people will decide because their votes and voices matter.”
Hitlall, who served on the Board of Education from 2014 to 2020, said last week that his experience with helping develop the school district budget gives him experience the other candidates don’t have. He owns Benchmark Home Equities and is also a property manager at the Hodorowski Group.
“I am in it for the community,” he said on Saturday.
Assuming all the candidates successfully circulate nominating petitions, the primary date will be June 22.