A longtime businessman and the former president of the Albany school board are squaring off to succeed retiring Assemblyman Jack McEneny.
McEneny announced in March that he would leave office after 20 years. Patricia A. Fahy and Theodore Danz Jr. are seeking election on Nov. 6 to the newly configured 109th Assembly District, which consists of Bethlehem, New Scotland, Guilderland and the western part of Albany.
Danz, of Altamont, who is running on the Republican and Independence lines, said he is concerned about high taxes and jobs. The owner of Family Danz Heating and Air Conditioning said New York has an unfavorable business climate compared with neighboring states.
“I see just one hurdle after the other,” he said.
Meet the candidates
Theodore Danz Jr.
BALLOT LINES: Republican, Independence
EXPERIENCE: Proprietor of Family Danz Heating and Air Conditioning, served in the military during the Vietnam War
EDUCATION: South Colonie high school
PERSONAL: Lives in Altamont, married to Diane Danz, father of five children and grandfather of 11
Patricia A. Fahy
BALLOT LINES: Democratic, Working Families
EXPERIENCE: Former president of the Albany City School Board; recently worked as associate commissioner for intergovernmental affairs and federal policy for the state Department of Labor
EDUCATION: Political science degree from Northern Illinois University and master’s in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago
PERSONAL: Married to Wayne Fahy; mother of Brendan, a high school student, and Eileen, a middle school student
Danz said he would like to see relief from unfunded mandates, particularly local governments’ responsibilities for contributing to employee pensions and paying Medicaid costs.
“It really is crippling,” he said.
Danz supports the state’s 2 percent cap on local tax increases and would also support a cap on state spending.
He said more streamlining of the public sector workforce is needed at the state and local level.
Positions could be eliminated without eliminating services, he said.
Danz also said he supports an increase in the minimum wage to $10 an hour as long as it is coupled with a business tax incentive such a $5,000 tax credit to hire a new worker.
He said he supports hydrofracking as long as the science says it is safe. “I think it’s too early to make a decision for or against. Certainly I hope it’s safe. It would mean a lot of money for New York state,” he said.
Danz also supports a state constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling.
He said he has practical experience to solve problems.
“I don’t have all the answers. As a businessman, I know how to make decisions and I know how to follow through on my decisions,” he said.
Fahy, of Albany, who is running on the Democrat and Working Families lines, said her top priorities are education and jobs, which touch on other issues. She said her experience as president of the Albany Board of Education is valuable.
She said she would work to increase state funding for schools. “New York is completely out of whack with the rest of the country in terms of an overreliance on property taxes to educate our children,” she said.
Fahy said she supports the state property tax cap but would like to see a circuit breaker implemented that would provide a tax break based on income.
The current STAR exemption is based on property values and disproportionately benefits downstate communities, according to Fahy.
In addition, she wants to change the funding formula so needier Capital Region districts receive a greater share of education dollars.
Fahy supports some mandate relief, although she doesn’t want that to be a pretext for rolling back necessary regulations. She would like to see the state pick up Medicaid costs from local governments.
She said she supports continuing the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until safety and health concerns are addressed.
Fahy is open to the idea of opening casinos in the state, as long as the jobs created pay living wages. However, she said she prefers other forms of economic development.
“There are some studies that show that for every job in the gambling industry created, there can be 11⁄2 jobs lost in terms of social costs,” she said.
Fahy supports an increase in the minimum wage. She also would support limits on both campaign contributions and expenditures, and she supports public financing of elections.
She believes that corporations and the rich wield increasing influence over elections: “The power is more and more concentrated in the hands of those who have money.”