GLENVILLE & NISKAYUNA -- Schenectady County Republicans have nominated Richard C. Fritz Jr. of Niskayuna to run in this fall's special election for an open seat on the County Legislature.
Fritz, a firefighter with Niskayuna Fire Dist. 1 on Ballstown Road for 42 years and currently the chief of its volunteer firefighters, would be carrying on a family tradition: His father, uncle and grandfather were all involved in county politics -- some as Republicans, and others as Democrats.
His grandfather Matthew Poersch, a Democrat, helped write the county charter, and his father, Richard C. "Mike" Fritz, was a Republican Niskayuna Town Board member and then town supervisor in the 1960s, then a county legislator into the 1970s. He chaired the county board in 1975, then was appointed the county's airport commissioner, and held that position for a decade. The older Fritz died in February.
"I learned a lot from him, and over the last few years prior to his death, we had a lot of political discussions," Fritz said. "When he was chairman, he sat down with the minority and said, what do you guys need? Is that happening now?"
Fritz will be running for the remaining two years in the District 3 legislative term previously held by Rory Fluman, who resigned in April when the Legislature appointed him the new county manager, to replace the retiring Kathleen Rooney.
The Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, last week named Sara Mae Pratt of Alplaus to the vacant seat. Pratt, the owner of a Schenectady bakery, said she expects to run in November and is looking forward to it.
County Republicans acknowledge they're almost certain to remain in the minority -- outnumbered 13-2 by a Democrat-Conservative coalition -- but said Fritz will be a strong candidate.
"He's very familiar with the county, and we think he will bring a lot of experience and knowledge to the County Legislature," said Chris Koetzle, the county Republican chairman.
Fritz, 65, is currently the chief of Niskayuna Fire Dist. 1's volunteers, but spent 27 years as one of the district's paid career firefighters, rising to the rank of captain. He is currently a task force leader for the regional urban technical search and rescue team, and was previously a deputy county fire coordinator.
He trained in engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and in the 1980s was an environmental technician at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and prior to that worked in construction.
"I do have a lot of experience and a varied background," Fritz said.
Fritz said he doesn't think Republicans are having much input on County Legislature's decisions now.
"There's no checks and balances, no other perspective being offered," he said. "I have no problem [being in the minority], as long as I'm allowed to have a voice. One of the things I've learned over the years is that the good politicians would be able to work with each other, and work together in the best interest of the taxpayers."
County legislators are paid $14,093 annually.