Scotia Mayor Tom Gifford will not seek re-election this year after he was not endorsed by the Democratic Party.
Gifford is finishing up one four-year term as mayor and had previously been a trustee for 10 years.
“I don’t understand the party’s decision, but I’m not contesting it,” he said.
He had decided four years ago to run because no one else wanted to, he said. But he did not realize how big of a task it would be.
“I don’t mind the work; it’s the barrage of different things you get that gets trying sometimes,” he said. “You have to work on the defense all the time.”
Nonetheless, he said, he’s proud of the effort he’s put in and that he’s been able to help maintain village services.
He said while he has been mayor and on the board the village has received many grants for things like the trails and the park. During his time he also dealt with four union contract negotiations “with relatively good results,” he said. The village’s fire, police and public works departments have unions and there is another union for department leaders, Gifford said.
One project he plans to try and get off the ground before his term expires at the end of December is finding a place to build a new fire station. The board has three locations in mind that it will show the public. The current fire station is outdated and cramped, he said. As part of that plan, the village and the police department would also be updated.
“That is critical to the survival of the village, he said.
Gifford said he plans to spend more time gardening at a farm he owns in Rotterdam. He also remains an active volunteer with the village fire department.
Joe Rizzo, who has served on the board over 20 years and under three different administrations, was also seeking the party endorsement, but did not receive it. Rizzo said he will primary whoever the party chooses to endorse.
“I think I can do a good job for the village,” he said.
He said the biggest issue facing the village are the tax increases residents have faced. Because the tax base is only 2-square-miles most of the costs fall to residents to pay, Rizzo said. However, he believes that working with department heads he could find ways to reduce costs.
“We have to live within our means,” he said.
But he said it’s also tough to do that when wages continue to increase, along with healthcare and other items.
“Everything has gone up except for the tax base,” he said.
However, Rizzo said, he has a track record of getting things accomplished.
Rizzo said he was able to save the village money by figuring out that the water pump station on Vly Road could be tax-exempt. He’s also helped implement the sidewalk replacement program. That program enables residents to have sidewalks replaced and only pay part of the cost, he said, while the village pays the other part. Rizzo said he was also able to get a $156,000 grant from the county to provide updates to Collins Park.
Cathy Bern-Smith, the head of the village Democratic Party, could not be reached for comment.