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Candidates for Niskayuna historian post sought

Candidates for Niskayuna historian post sought

Supervisor says politics won't be involved
Candidates for Niskayuna historian post sought
Niskayuna Town Historian Don Cazer speaks at a school board meeting in 2013.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

NISKAYUNA -- Politics will not play a role in the selection of Niskayuna's next historian, according to town Supervisor Yasmine Syed.

Earlier this month the town announced on its website that applications were being accepted for the job. The current historian, Don Cazer, has notified Syed he plans to step down once a replacement has been found.

"I've got other things going on in my life -- things keep moving on," Cazer said. "Somebody else will probably tackle it with more enthusiasm."

Under state law -- New York State Arts and Cultural Affairs law -- a town's supervisor makes the appointment for historian.

Councilman John Della Ratta on Monday emailed a letter to Syed and other town officials and expressed concern that the appointment could involve politics. Della Ratta said the last three historians -- Ed Reilly and Kathy Schoolcraft preceded Cazer in the position -- were active community members, "and there was never any thought given to their political party."

Della Ratta also asked the appointment process be "open and inclusive," and that the Town Board be included in the proceedings.

Syed, in an interview Wednesday, said politics will not be considered during the search. The supervisor is a Republican; the Town Board is made up of four Democrats.

"That would never factor in," Syed said.

Four people so far have submitted applications for the job, which pays $500 annually. The historian also receives $500 for expenses.

Syed said the Town Board will have input.

"They will be involved in every step of the process," she said. "Ideally, we're going to narrow it down to two candidates. Then we can sit down with them and have them evaluate the candidates, interview them if they like and hopefully choose the best person."

Syed said the candidates should have backgrounds in history, be town residents, "and have an enthusiasm or at least an interest in Niskayuna -- preferably somebody who has lived here for a long time, is involved in the community and really would want to delve into the community from a historical perspective."

Under law established by the state Legislature in 1919, each municipality must appoint a historian.

"I think it's always important to try and preserve the history as much as possible," Syed said. "We're forever changing our community just in the time I've lived here, so over the last 30 years, it's changed a significant degree. A lot of stuff stays the same but a lot changes, too."

Applications for the job may be sent to: Andrew Bigness, Supervisor’s Office, Town of Niskayuna, 1 Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, New York, 12309.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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