The Glenville Democratic Committee has endorsed Cathryn Bern-Smith for town supervisor, making this year’s race for Glenville’s top seat a contested one.
She will be up against incumbent Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle, a Republican who has held the seat since 2010 and is seeking a second term.
Bern-Smith, 57, of Glenville, currently serves as a policy director for the New York State Senate — in particular, working for Democratic Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. out of his Albany office.
She has been involved in local politics since she moved to Glenville in 2006 to live in the house where her husband grew up. She ran for a seat on the Town Board four years ago and a seat on the Schenectady County Legislature two years ago, but lost both. She continues to seek office, she said, because the town of Glenville can’t sustain the spending and tax increases of the last four years.
“We clearly need to do something about it,” said Bern-Smith. “The village just can’t sustain a 23 percent tax increase and the town can’t sustain an 18 percent tax increase. We also cannot sustain a 12 percent increase in spending. This is definitely going to be our focus.”
Bern-Smith previously served as manager of the Schenectady County Department of Senior and Long Term Care Services. She received her bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., and her master’s degree from the University at Albany.
Scotia and Glenville residents cannot afford any more broken promises, said Glenville Democratic Chair Joe McQueen in a news release issued Tuesday.
“Four years ago, Glenville residents voted for a team that told them they would cut taxes and expand services,” he said in the release. “Unfortunately, we got neither.”
Koetzle said the numbers cited by the Democratic Committee are state-mandated costs like pension costs and health-insurance increases that the town has no choice but to accept.
“When you look at the things that we can control, we cut a half million dollars out of the budget over the past four years,” he said. “Out tax increases over the past four years have been less than the Democratic administration previous to ours. We managed those non-mandated expenses better. Moody’s just upgraded the town’s bond rating. We have the best fiscal scores in the county. We have lived up to our promises.”
Board, highway hopefuls
The Democratic Committee also endorsed a Scotia trustee and a newcomer for open seats on the Town Board, as well as local business owner Rick LeClair for highway superintendent.
LeClair is no stranger to the job, having previously served as highway superintendent from 2006 to 2009. He will face incumbent Tom Coppola, who has served in the role since 2010. LeClair is the owner and operator of Rick LeClair’s Service, a 35-year-old Scotia auto repair shop. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and has piloted the Poplar Mist Tour Boat out of Fonda. He volunteers with the Scotia-Glenville Little League, the Scotia-Glenville Babe Ruth, the Traffic Safety Board, the Scotia-Glenville Elks and the Scotia Kiwanis.
Joe Rizzo and Ron Draves are running for the two Town Board seats up for re-election this fall. The seats are currently held by Sid Ramotar, who is running for a second term, and Alan Boulant, who is planning a run for Schenectady County Legislature this fall.
Rizzo currently serves as a trustee on the Scotia Village Board, having previously served four years as deputy major. He is a member of the Scotia Traffic Safety Committee and the village Park Board, and a former member of the village Zoning Board of Appeals. In his free time, Rizzo volunteers on the village Special Events Committee, helping organize Holiday on the Avenue and the Cruisin' on the Avenue car show every year. He is a past president of the Scotia Fire Department, a board member for the Scotia-Glenville Traveling Children’s Museum and a Cub Scout packmaster. He earned the title of Scotia Rotary Citizen of the Year in 2010.
Draves is taking his first run at elected office. He has worked for more than 20 years as an ASE-certified automotive professional and served as a member of the Glenville Local Development Corporation and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development programs. The lifelong Schenectady County resident attended Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools.
4 candidates, 2 seats
With Rizzo and Draves in the race along with GOP incumbent Ramotar, there are now four candidates vying for two seats on the Town Board. Republican candidate and Glenville Local Development Corporation CEO Jim Martin is also vying for a seat.
“Cathy, Rick, Joe and Ron believe fresh ideas are needed to maintain the quality of life Glenville residents expect, while controlling taxes,” the committee’s release read. “Cathy, Rick, Joe and Ron will bring fresh ideas, experience and leadership to the town of Glenville. They pledge to govern in an open style, involving all members of our community, control property taxes in order to support our families and allow seniors to remain in their homes, promote sensible commercial development and fill vacant store fronts to reduce taxes, control spending by promoting continued cooperation and shared services with Scotia and Schenectady County, and enhance the quality of life for all residents.”