Niskayuna says task force applications may have been lost in email

Niskayuna’s website Friday stated that no applicants sought appointment to the town’s task force on racial equity and justice.

Niskayuna’s website Friday stated that no applicants sought appointment to the town’s task force on racial equity and justice.

An email issue may have been the cause of confusion over why the town of Niskayuna said it hadn’t received applications for its Racial Equity and Justice Task Force when people said they applied by the June 30 deadline. 

“I’m trying to figure that out myself,” said Supervisor Yasmine Syed about the issue. 

The town issued its call for residents to apply to be on the task force on May 19. According to the town’s website, the Racial Equity and Justice Task Force is “charged with providing guidance to the town board on establishing the mission, goals, strategies and performance measures for the town of Niskayuna’s commitment to equity, eradicating racism and discrimination and serving justice.”

Applications were to be emailed to town attorney Paul Briggs, who in turn gathered the applications and distributed them to town board members. 

However, on July 2, the town posted on its website that it had not received any applications and was again seeking applicants. 

“I’ve never seen that before with any of our committees,” said board member Denise Murphy McGraw in an email. 

Syed said it may have been an issue with Briggs’ email account or technology services. 

“I don’t know if he had some type of email issue,” Syed said.

Briggs did not return a request for comment. 

While Syed said the town has been having some internet issues lately, she did not elaborate on specifics.

Rosemarie Perez Jaquith, who resigned from the town board on July 1, said she received emails from several community members stating they had sent in applications before the deadline. Bola Elefontuyi, Cobra Cox and Giza Lopes wrote that they had previously applied when the task force was seeking members. 

Jaquith also noted that Mila Gasco had also applied but sent in the application after the June 30 deadline.

Jaquith said all of the applicants are people of color. 

Cox said she sent her application twice during the acceptance period. She said the first time she sent it was on June 21. After hearing nothing from the town, she sent her application again on June 28 to both Briggs and included Syed in the email. 

“I never received anything back,” she said. 

She said as an African American, she wanted to be on the board to represent her community and make sure people of color had a voice. 

While she said she won’t be going through the application process a third time, should the town reach out and ask her if she was still interested, she’d say yes. 

Tiffany Bardwell commented on a Gazette’s Your Niskayuna Facebook post that her 20-year-old African American daughter, who is attending Siena College as a double major, sent in an application but never heard back. 

“Curious why no one continued the conversation with her,” she said in her post. 

She did not indicate in the comment when her daughter sent in her application. She could not be reached for comment. 

Syed said she found Lopes’ application in her spam folder and perhaps the same thing happened to Briggs. She said she will confirm receipt of applications they find via email and those people won’t need to apply again.

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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