Majority Democrats in the Schenectady County Legislature plan to appoint Thomas P. Constantine as director of emergency management Tuesday night.
Constantine was one of three people interviewed for the position, which was posted on the Schenectady County Web site and in local media, said county spokesman Joe McQueen.
Constantine was a top contender for the vacant position of Schenectady County sheriff until he was knocked out, going so far as to change his party membership from Republican to Democrat.
Democrats are instead endorsing Rotterdam police Lt. Dominick Dagostino, a Conservative and the son of prominent Democratic county legislator Judith Dagostino, vice chairwoman of the county Legislature.
Judith Dagostino’s term on the Legislature expires this year. She represents Rotterdam, a Republican stronghold. Party sources said she wanted Democrats to endorse her son in return for her seeking reelection.
The endorsement also locks in support of the local Conservative Party for Judith Dagostino. Judith Dagostino needs the local party’s support in her bid for re-election in the always-contentious county Legislature races in District 4, which comprises Rotterdam, Princetown and Duanesburg.
Conservatives already support Dominick Dagostino’s bid for the seat formerly held by Harry Buffardi, a Democrat. Buffardi resigned Feb. 27 to become a full-time professor in criminal sciences at Schenectady County Community College.
Democrat leaders deny the quid quo pro.
Randy Pascarella, local Conservative Party chairman, said the party would have support Judith Dagostino regardless of whether Dominick Dagostino ran for office.
“We would definitively endorse Judy in District 4, but we have not seen the slate of candidates from the Democrats yet. We have endorsed her every time, and it has nothing to do with Dom Dagostino,” Pascarella said.
Pascarella also denied any “back-room deals” in which the Conservative Party is promising to endorse Democratic candidates carte blanche in November.
The Conservative Party is seeking the Schenectady County Republican Committee’s endorsement for Dagostino as well. Republicans are not expected to announce their endorsement in the county sheriff’s race until after the March 31 special election for the 20th Congressional District. Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy are facing off for the seat.
Local Republicans are putting all their energies into getting Tedisco elected, Pascarella said.
County Legislator Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, called Constantine’s appointment “a payoff for [Democrats’] knocking him out of the sheriff’s position. They had to keep him quiet after sacking him. They promised him a real job and they obviously delivered on the taxpayer buck.”
Robert Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he believes Constantine is a capable person and a talented man. “I think he will do a good job in that position and he will work hard for the county,” Farley said. “I will speak [on his behalf] on the floor on that.”
Constantine had no immediate comment on his appointment. The position of director of emergency management has been vacant since William VanHoesen retired last year. The position’s salary is $60,725 in the 2009 budget.
Constantine is a retired detective with the Niskayuna police department. He will have to obtain a waiver from the pension system to collect the county salary, officials said.
According to a memo to county legislators, he has complementary experience as a fire commissioner for Niskayuna Fire District 1. “The combination of both law enforcement and fire response background within Schenectady County provides a breadth of experience that is well suited to the issues of the Office of Emergency Management,” said County Manager Kathleen Rooney.