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What you need to know for 11/20/2017

Yasmine Syed, 34, ousts 10-year incumbent in Niskayuna

Yasmine Syed, 34, ousts 10-year incumbent in Niskayuna

Democratic board members vow to continue business as usual, despite supervisor shakeup
Yasmine Syed, 34, ousts 10-year incumbent in Niskayuna
Yasmine Syed is congratulated on her win Tuesday at the Van Dyck on Union Street.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

Voters in Niskayuna elected Republican Yasmine Syed to town supervisor on Tuesday, as the young Republican political newcomer defeated 10-year incumbent Joe Landry.

Landry, who is also the Schenectady County Democratic chairman, was defeated by an unofficial vote of 3,631 to 2,897, or 54 percent to 43 percent, in one of the area's hardest-fought election contests. Elmer F. Bertsch garnered 204 votes on the Green party line.

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Democratic Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw, who is deputy town supervisor, said the Democrats will continue to have a governing majority, holding all four Town Board seats, with Syed the only Republican.

"I'm prepared to lead the governing majority on the Town Board," said Murphy McGraw, who was re-elected to a new four-year term Tuesday. "Everything we do requires a motion and resolution."

Syed, 34, is a Niskayuna native who is a senior budget analyst at Albany Medical Center. This was her first bid for public office.

"It's a victory for the residents of Niskayuna, and I'm going to do everything I can to serve them to the best of my ability," Syed said Tuesday night.

She said she expects to be able to work with the Democrats on the Town Board.

"To me, I might have been on the Republican line, but I plan to work with them on a bipartisan basis," she said.

Landry has been supervisor of the affluent suburban town — where the SI Group, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and GE Global Research have major presences — since 2008. An attorney, Landry has also been part-time counsel to the Schenectady County Legislature since 2004.

The Niskayuna campaign has been among the area's most contentious, as Syed and other Republicans called out a Democratic flier that linked local Republicans to controversial national conservative figures like Alex Jones and Steve Bannon. Syed said Democrats were inappropriately implying that local Republicans were "racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim."

Like Republican candidates in other towns this year, Syed said the Democrat-controlled county government should be sharing more of its sales tax revenue with the towns. Landry responded that the county does share some money with the towns, and he believes the towns in which officials are complaining have a spending problem.

Landry did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. Murphy McGraw said Republicans attacked Landry personally during the campaign, which she believes contributed to his defeat — and she doesn't see his loss as a repudiation of Democrats.

"I think the people in the town still want the town to be run the way it has been for the past 10 years, and it will be," she said.

In the Niskayuna Town Board race, incumbent board members Murphy McGraw and John DellaRatta won re-election over Republicans Anthony M. Simone and Thomas McGarry. Murphy was elected to her third four-year-term with 3,565 votes, while DellaRatta had 3,214, McGarry, 2,969, and Simone, 2,861, according to unofficial final returns.

In other Schenectady County towns:

ROTTERDAM: Steven A. Tommasone, an independent with the Democratic party line, was re-elected to a two-year term as town supervisor, defeating Republican Richard W. Gentile. Tommasone, a financial consultant, has been supervisor for the past two years, and also served as town supervisor from 2006 to 2009. Democrat Steve Signore and Republican Joseph Guidarelli won two open Town Board seats.

GLENVILLE: In an upset in what has generally been a Republican town, Democrats Michael Godlewski and Michael Aragosa were elected to the Town Board, which has been all-Republican in recent years. They defeated Republican incumbents James M. Martin and David Hennel, who was appointed to a Town Board vacancy earlier this year. Aragosa had 4,084 votes, Godlewski, 4,018, Martin, 3,673  and Hennel, 3,487, according to final but unofficial returns. Incumbent Republican Thomas Coppola took the race for highway superintendent over Democrat Richard LeClair in a vote of 4,193 to 3,688.

In County Legislature District 3, which includes Glenville and Niskayuna, incumbents Democrats or Conservatives Grant M. Socha, Rory Fluman and Cathy Gatta were re-elected, defeating Republicans Loretta Rigney, Kurt Semon and Keven Mathes, who had said that, if they were elected, they would push for the towns to receive more sales tax revenue from the county.

Candidates running countywide without opposition included Sheriff Dominic A. Dagostino, District Attorney Robert Carney and Family Court Judge Mark W. Blanchfield.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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