MALTA – Development pressures and years of control by Republicans are compelling Democrats to get more organized in both Malta and Wilton ahead of this November’s local elections.
“We just want to have a voice,” offered Julie Galloway, chairwoman of the Malta Democratic Committee, when contacted this week about a slate of four candidates the party has chosen for town supervisor, town board and town justice. “We want to have a clean, upbeat election.”
“We are super excited,” Galloway added.
Democrats in Malta have endorsed Bill Breheny for supervisor, since lifelong town resident Vincent DeLucia is up for reelection in November.
Breheny, who’s lived in the town for 32 years with his wife Cindy and three sons, works in insurance and retirement planning.
For two seats on the Malta Town Board, the Democrats have endorsed Tracy O’Rourke, an employee of the Ballston Spa School District; and Cynthia Young, a self-employed accountant.
Michelle Storm, a Long Island native and more recent arrival in Malta, has been endorsed for the town justice seat now occupied by Judge Steven Gottmann.
According to Nick Wilock, vice chairman of the Malta Republican Committee, the party has endorsed DeLucia and Town Councilman John Hartzell, along with Sharon Farley Schiera for another town board seat.
The Republicans also plan to back Roger Crandall for highway superintendent, Patti Ruggles for town clerk and Gottmann.
When asked to comment by email on the Democrats’ plans in November, Wilock said: “The fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans is fiscal discipline and high ethical standards. Under Supervisor DeLucia's leadership, Malta remains a tax-free town because of the commitment to not spending more than we take in, and recognizing the importance of responsible economic development in our commercial corridors so that money spent here is kept here. Malta's fiscal health remains in great condition thanks to responsible spending practices by our current town board.”
“Also under Supervisor DeLucia's leadership,” Wilock added, “town hall has transformed itself from a place where ethics and integrity were a real problem to a model example of how public officials should hold themselves to higher standards.”
“If there were ethical problems in town hall . . . none of that had to do with Democrats,” responded Young, who noted how Republicans have controlled most town offices in Malta for many years. “They can’t blame it on us.”
“The Democratic candidates for supervisor and town board are concerned that the unfettered development and rezoning of Malta will threaten the fiscal health of the town,” Young explained in her own emailed statement. “Increased development will require higher expenses for public safety, emergency services and highway maintenance.”
“Republican town governments, the current and former, have rezoned areas of the town from residential to commercial, allowed high-density apartments to be built and catered to developers using the Planned Development District formula,” Young continued. “We already feel the impact in increased traffic and crime.”
Patricia Tuz, the chairwoman of Wilton’s Democratic Committee, echoed such comments.
“What’s democratic is to give people choice,” Tuz said, noting how Wilton, much like Malta, has been controlled by Republicans for decades.
“We will get more people out to vote,” she vowed, saying that is “our main goal.”
Democrats there have endorsed Nancy Dwyer for supervisor; Paula Tancredi Penman and Ken Garcia for town board; and John Helenek for highway superintendent.
Dave Buchyn, chairman of the Wilton Republican Committee, said the party is supporting longtime Supervisor Arthur Johnson and Councilman John McEachron, along with “political newcomer” Duane Bogardus for the town board seat being vacated by Councilwoman Joanne Klepetar.
Kirklin Woodcock, Wilton’s highway superintendent, also has the Republicans’ support.
“The people you vote for will be making decisions that affect your home value (your greatest investment), your schools, and your roads,” Tuz said in an email. “Our right to vote is very important so why should we not exercise it every way we can?”
She also lamented an “explosion” of growth that has crowded schools and caused noticeable traffic problems in Wilton.
“One of the greatest contributions a person can make is to sit on a town board and contribute experience and ideas to move the town forward,” Tuz said. “Why should we have the same people running with the same backgrounds, with the same ideas?”
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