NISKAYUNA -- Lisa Weber, a member of the Niskayuna Town Board since 2016, has been endorsed in her bid for town supervisor by the town's Democratic Committee.
The committee announced its slate of candidates on Tuesday.
Weber will challenge Republican Yasmine Syed, who won her first two-year term in 2017. Syed in January announced her intent to run for reelection.
"Every professional and volunteer position I have held throughout my career has been focused on improving the well-being of people -- women, children and families," Weber said in a prepared statement.
"As a Town Board member," Weber added, "I have worked continuously to improve the quality of life in Niskayuna, and I would look forward to bringing my skills and experience to the supervisor's office."
Democrats also endorsed:
- Bill McPartlon, incumbent councilman.
- Rosemarie Perez Jaquith, for the council seat that will be vacated by Weber as she runs for supervisor.
- Michele Martinelli, incumbent town clerk.
- Steve Swinton, incumbent town justice.
Weber said she and her colleagues thought Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw would run for supervisor; McGraw last weekend said a full-time job will keep her off the ballot.
"I thought we needed to put forward another seasoned government professional that had experience in local government on the Town Board to be our Democratic candidate," she said. "I interviewed with the Niskayuna committee and they endorsed me."
If elected, Weber said she would like to see town department heads assemble on a more regular basis.
"I've noticed a little bit of a lack of cohesiveness among department heads not meeting as often as they did in years past, over the past year or so, with the new administration," she said. "I would like to see the department heads get together more often."
Weber said she would also work with board members and county and state officials to invest more in Niskayuna.
"I'd like to keep Niskayuna an affordable place to live, while still maintaining infrastructure improvements and keeping Niskayuna safe and investing in improving our community programs," Weber said.
Weber said taxes are another issue she would tackle. She believes taxpayers are under pressure with new federal regulations -- some deductions are no longer available, and that can mean increased tax bills.
"We try to be really sensitive to that by not raising taxes on the town level at all in the past, in our last budget," Weber said, adding that the town's expenses are still growing.
"That's going to be a challenge for us going forward," Weber said. "I think that's why you need somebody in the supervisor's office to really go to Washington and say, 'Hey, this tax plan is really bad for middle-class people, with the residents of our town.'"
Weber, whose duties on the board include heading the community programs committee and overseeing the town Recreation Department and Senior Center, said her Town Board membership is her only job.
"Town supervisor will be my only employment, if I'm elected to that position," Weber added.
Syed said she is not surprised a Democrat candidate has come forward.
"I think they are very politically motivated to have a change in the supervisorship and I think the motivation is to once again have everyone in lock step where as my administration has really promoted different views and really represented the diverse views of our community," she said. "By running again I hope to continue the progress that's been started in the way of more diverse opinions that are truly representative of the community and the increased government transparency I've brought to fruition."
Regarding Weber's belief town department heads are not meeting enough, Syed said: "Department heads all get together for everyone's respective committee meetings so between each one of the town board members' committee meetings we're all getting together and we also re-convene for finance and agenda, we all get together for our town board meetings as well ...it's new to me there's not cohesiveness with our department heads."
Syed added that if department heads felt they were not meeting often enough, they would have come to her. "And that hasn't been expressed," she said.
Syed also said she has met with government officials - lobbying local elected representatives regarding recent state cuts to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding, money that cities, towns and villages depend on.
"We're going to have potentially $101,000 pulled from our budget, that is the immediate urgency right now," Syed said. "That's something I've been leading the charge on, talking with Assemblyman (Phillip) Steck, state Senator (James) Tedisco, they're going to be lobbying on our behalf to have this funding reinstated."
Syed said she will be proud to run on "my record of fiscal responsibility and increased government transparency and innovation and moving forward new initiatives like the farmers market and live-streaming."
The town is considering a farmers market for seasonal operation. Town meetings are now live-streamed on a dedicated YouTube channel.
Syed also said she will employ the same campaign strategy she employed in 2017.
"Just being very front-facing -- going out there, knocking on every door that I can -- really taking the time and effort to talk to as many residents as I can," she said. "I want to run on what they're concerned about; I want to solve their issues."
Syed said town Republicans will endorse their slate of candidates for elected offices on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]