Two residents call for Niskayuna supervisor to resign; Syed not backing down

Niskayuna Supervisor  Yasmine Syed in March.

Niskayuna Supervisor Yasmine Syed in March.

Niskayuna Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed will not be resigning from her position before her term is up at the end of the year, even though two residents suggested during a Tuesday evening board meeting the move would be for the best. 

Syed said the idea for her to step down is politically motivated.

“I took an oath to serve out my term,” Syed said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m not going to abandon my position.” 

During Tuesday evening’s board meeting, residents Linda Rizzo and Lorene Zabin both said Syed should step down as supervisor since she will not be running for re-election and is moving to Syracuse. 

“I do think it’s unfair to the town and to the board that you remain because you will be a shadow,” Zabin said, noting the supervisor’s office hasn’t been very active in the town either. 

Rizzo said she wanted to make sure there is accountability when it comes to getting the town budget done and with Syed leaving, she wouldn’t have any responsibility for the outcome of the budget. 

“If you were still going to be here you’d be accountable,” she said. “The only ones that are going to be accountable are going to be the town board members and they’re going to say it was the supervisor’s budget.” 

Syed said Rizzo sits on the Niskayuna Democratic Committee and believes she was told by the committee to suggest she resign.   

Syed said town law states that when the board needs to fill a vacancy a majority of the town board can vote to appoint someone. However, the duration of the appointment is based around whether the person is going into a position that is appointed or elected. 

“If the appointment is made to fill a vacancy in an elective office, the town board appointment is until commencement of the calendar year next succeeding the first annual election at which the vacancy may be filled,” Syed said. 

Syed is the only Republican on the town board. 

“With all other members of the board being registered Democrats, I believe it further justifies my concern that Lorene and Linda’s statements are politically motivated in desiring that I resign thus triggering the aforementioned process,” Syed said. 

Democratic Committee Chairwoman and town board member Denise Murphy McGraw denied the committee had anything to do with Rizzo’s comments. 

“I have been on the Democratic Committee for about 20 years, I have never once had anybody ask me or have asked anybody else to go speak at privilege of the floor of the Niskayuna Town Board against someone or in any negative way,” she said. “That is not what we do as the Niskayuna Town Democratic Committee. 

Rizzo, who is a member of the Democratic Committee, said that to imply she would make the comments for political reasons “is outrageous.”

Rizzo said she supported Syed over the years and voted for her in 2019 for her second term. 

But Rizzo said she couldn’t support Syed anymore after seeing how she handled the budget process, issues with how the town handled the investigation into former comptroller Paul Sebesta, who wore “blackface” during a 2014 Halloween party, and problems with plowing this past winter. 

Rizzo said she wants to make sure the supervisor is held accountable for their actions. She said with Syed leaving, she is essentially getting a free pass. 

“The accountability is you don’t want to see your residents, your taxpayers and have them look at you and say ‘you ruined this town,’” Rizzo said. 

Zabin said her comments weren’t political either and that she likes Syed.

“She’s making a huge mistake trying to be all things to all people and I don’t think it’s good for the town and that’s my motive,” Zabin said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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