SCHENECTADY COUNTY — Schenectady County Legislator Richard Ruzzo, a Democrat, has long resided down the street from potential political rival and fellow Democrat John Polimeni, a Schenectady city councilman.
Earlier in January Polimeni asked social media followers if they would vote for a County Legislature candidate with a “record of cutting taxes” and “someone who has fought for quality of life issues.”
“[I] found that to be — we’re on the same team, right?” Ruzzo said about Polimeni’s post. “So no one has reached out to me to say, ‘Hey, I’m not on board with your position on neighborhood revitalization, I’m not on board with this position on keeping our city streets safe, I’m gonna run against you’, so I was surprised by his posit, if you will.”
Set to expire in 2023 are the terms of District 1 Democratic incumbents Ruzzo and Richard Patierne. Ruzzo, who plans to run again, said he hasn’t heard or seen Polimeni at events all month. Polimeni’s council term expires at then end of this year, as well.
“I’m happy to have a conversation,” Ruzzo said of Polimeni.
After skipping an endorsement interview with the Schenectady County Democratic Committee earlier this month, Polimeni told The Daily Gazette that he’s weighing his options. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences professor was first elected to the City Council in 2015, replacing longtime Democratic member Margaret King. Ruzzo was appointed and later elected to the County Legislature the same year as Polimeni’s victory.
Outside of the Legislature, Ruzzo served as CEO of Shepherd Communication and Security from 2011 to last March. He’s chairman of the Land Reutilization Corporation of the Capital Region and a member of the Discover Schenectady Board of Directors.
Ruzzo, a Goose Hill neighborhood resident, believes that his line of connections are paramount to the job.
“I believe as a legislator our role is to connect people, projects and economic development, making sure that our community has all the services that they need,” Ruzzo said.
The last year has been politically tumultuous for Polimeni, who has battled the City Council’s four-member progressive wing of color over noise regulations, rent control, police budgeting and COVID-19 federal relief (ARPA) spending. He typically aligns with lawmakers Doreen Ditoro and Carmel Patrick in the council’s white moderate wing against Marion Porterfield, John Mootooveren, Damonni Farley and Carl Williams.
Polimeni declined having any interest in flipping parties last fall after the Schenectady Republican Committee said that he would be a welcome candidate. GOP Chairman Matt Neilligan recently said that Polimeni will not be a part of the committee’s forthcoming ticket for District 1 and District 2 seats in the County Legislature.
Polimeni’s absence from the city’s Democratic endorsement process left the door open for longtime criminal justice and juvenile services official Joe Mancini to get the party executive committee’s preliminary approval. Ditoro, Patrick and Williams are all also up for re-election this cycle.
In the County Legislature race, the seats of Democratic incumbents Vice Chairman Jeffrey McDonald and Majority Leader Gary Hughes are also set to expire. The legislative body has maintained majority rule since the mid-2000s.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3749 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil
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