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Albany County Legislature Replaces Republican Who Resigned With The Democrat He Defeated

Richard Touchette
Richard Touchette
Albany County Legislator Richard Touchette

A former Albany County legislator has been appointed to serve on the body once again, until November.Democrat Richard Touchette was sworn in May 10th to serve the rest of the year in the 37th District.

Touchette, a former Coeymans Town Board member, served on the legislature from 2015 to 2019 before being defeated by Republican George Langdon of Selkirk, who resigned under pressure after making homophobic comments March 27th at an event billed as a "Return to Liberty under the Constitution," held at a bible camp in Voorheesville.

Langdon issued an apology afterward, but local lawmakers and LGBTQ advocates rallied in Albany and called on the first-term legislator to step down.

A special election in November will choose a legislator to fill the rest of the term, through 2023. Touchette was asked if he would run for the seat again.

"That's yet to be determined. The Town of Coeymans Democratic committee will make that decision after the primary."

Minority Leader Frank Mauriello had submitted an alternative resolution to appoint Zachary Collins to fill Langdon's vacant seat, but Democrats unanimously voted against the measure.

"And what was interesting was it took them a little bit of time to decide who they were going to put in that seat. And the legislature has 40 days to appoint someone after a resignation. And they, we, took almost the 40 days. Now they'd decided to appoint Rick Touchette and Rick Touchette is very nice person, I have nothing against Rick, I think he's a very good person. But Rick was rejected by the residents of Coeymans. He lost to George Langdon and by almost 20 points last November of 19. And so therefore, you know, we knew the residents rejected him. And you don't feel that, or they don't feel that he was really speaking for them and really represented their values."

Collins declined an interview request. In an email, he echoed Mauriello’s comments, adding,” My family and I have a long history of service to our hometown of Coeymans, and although I thoroughly enjoy working for the residents of Coeymans as a member of the Town Council, I am eager to serve those same constituents as their next Albany County Legislator.”

For his part, Touchette tells WAMC he has no set agenda other than doing the best possible job for the county and the 37th district.

“It was just a week or so ago that I was appointed. So at this point, I'm just going to see what's needed by the town, what's needed by the county.”

The full 39-person legislature is next up for election in 2023.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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