Local Governments Getting Organized For 2020
With 2020 just hours away, local governments in New York’s Capital Region are getting organized. Many incumbents are staying put in the new year, but there are some changes coming.
2020 may be the big election year nationally, but local races in 2019 set the course for many municipalities.
Perhaps the tightest Capital Region race was in the Albany suburb of Colonie, where Democratic Town Supervisor Paula Mahan was seeking a seventh term.
She got it — but not on election night, when she led Republican George Scaringe by just 62 votes of more than 20,000 cast. When absentee ballots were counted two weeks later, Mahan held on.
"The people were there for me. I appreciate their support so much, and tomorrow it will be business as usual and we'll just keep moving the town forward," Mahan said.
In Schenectady County, Niskayuna voters also stuck with their town supervisor, sending Republican Yasmine Syed to a second term. She defeated Democratic town board member Lisa Weber.
“I really feel that the residents of the town issued a mandate that we have to work together on a bipartisan level and I’ve always been prepared to do that,” Syed said.
In the city of Rensselaer, the new year brings a new mayor — the third in two years. Democrat Dan Dwyer died of cancer in 2018 at age 84. Rich Mooney of the Common Council filled out Dwyer’s term. He fell to Rensselaer County Legislature Chair Mike Stammel, a Republican, in November’s election.
Stammelsays he cleared the dual county-city role with the state attorney general before running for mayor.
“I want people to know what's going on in government every day and be accessible. Transparency is very important to me,” Stammel said.
Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo, who has just begun a second four-year-term, says he will not seek a third.
In Albany County, where County Executive Dan McCoy and Sheriff Craig Apple were easily re-elected, Democratic Comptroller Mike Conners is retiring after a quarter-century.
“This is probably one of the most important offices that there is in government, and nobody knows about the job. It's a wonderful job, there's a great staff here,” Conner said.
Albany City Auditor Sue Rizzo won the race to replace Conners.
In Cohoes, a longtime Albany County Democratic center of power is facing sentencing next week after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges. Incumbent Shawn Morse lost the Democratic primary to incoming Mayor Bill Keeler.
Voters in Saratoga Springs, Schenectady and Troy all stuck with incumbent Democratic mayors: Meg Kelly, Gary McCarthy and Patrick Madden, respectively. But Amsterdam voters decided to change course, ousting first-term Republican Mayor Mike Villa in favor of Democrat Michael Cinquanti.
“I love Amsterdam. I write about it. I’m an author, I’ve published three books on the history of Amsterdam. There’s nothing like figuring out the future by learning the past,” Cinquanti said.
And in Gloversville, Mayor Vincent DeSantis enters 2020 minus the word “acting” in his title. The former city councilor handily won November’s election to fill the rest of Dayton King’s term.