If you don’t believe Niskayuna is a mess and in need of some serious, non-partisan leadership, take a look at our paper lately.
Many citizens have criticized board decisions, the political infighting, taxes and traffic, the dearth of transparency and the dysfunction of the town government.
The blame for all the conflict can’t be placed entirely on the outgoing town supervisor, Yasmine Syed, a Republican on a Democrat-controlled board. Nor can expectations be set too high for the next supervisor who will be elected on Tuesday.
Still, getting just the right person in the top job could go a long way toward easing some of the tensions and getting government officials to cooperate more on an agenda that best serves town residents.
That person will need intelligence, people skills, management skills, budgeting experience, experience working in team settings and a minimal degree of political and personal baggage coming in.
Of the two candidates running for Niskayuna town supervisor, we believe Democrat Jaime Puccioni has the best chance of setting the town on a better path.
Puccioni is an associate professor of literacy teaching and learning at SUNY Albany, a researcher and a former middle school teacher (that could be particularly helpful here). She’s also vice chairwoman of the town’s Racial Equity Task Force.
A newcomer to elected office, she has experience writing grants and preparing budgets, both necessary skills for a town supervisor, and vast experience working with a variety of constituencies, analyzing situations and providing workable feedback, also good skills to have.
Her priorities include addressing morale in the police department, updating the master plan when it expires, attracting more small businesses and improving the commercial tax base, improving parks and recreation, addressing speeding in the town and quality-of-life issues.
Her opponent in the race is Republican Hamayun “Joey” Faizy, a longtime local businessman and real estate developer who touts his business savvy, leadership skills and ability to bring people together among his qualifications for supervisor. He lists roads, public safety, political division and athletic fields among his top priorities.
Being a Democrat on the Democrat-controlled board could be an asset, as she would be more likely to foster agreement among the council members. But it also could alienate those who feel the Democrats operate as a fiefdom to the exclusion of others in the town. There, Puccioni’s lack of deep political roots could actually serve as a bridge to those outside the party.
Puccioni says she’s not interested in petty distractions and believes government gets bogged down when attention is placed on unimportant issues. A good attitude to have.
No one who gets the supervisor’s job can expect a completely smooth and easy ride.
But of the two candidates for supervisor in Niskayuna, Jaime Puccioni has the best chance of succeeding.