CARS HOMES JOBS

Five candidates face off in two contested Niskayuna races

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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— Niskayuna voters will make their picks for four offices next week, but only two of them, Town Board and town justice, are contested.

In the two others, town Supervisor Joe Landry and Receiver of Taxes Diane Percy are running unopposed for new terms.

In the Town Board race, three people, incumbent Democrat Denise Murphy McGraw, Democrat John Della Ratta and Republican David Dussault, are seeking two seats.

Who's who

John Della Ratta

Age: 47

Occupation: Attorney in private practice

Education: Graduated from St. Michael’s College in Vermont, Thomas Cooley Law School in Michigan

Family: Married, two children ages 14 and 11

Party: Democrat, also has Conservative, Working Families and Independence lines

David Dussault

Did not provide information

Denise Murphy McGraw

Age: 46

Occupation: Current Town Board member; partner in government relations firm; chairwoman of the Schenectady County Community College board of trustees

Education: Graduated from SUNY Brockport

Family: Married, one daughter age 12

Party: Democrat, also has Conservative, Working Families and Independence lines

Michael Horan

Age: 63

Occupation: Attorney in private practice

Education: Graduated from SUNY Albany and Albany Law School, getting his law degree in 1977

Family: Married, six children ages 21 to 43

Party: Republican, also has Independence line

Peter Scagnelli

Age: 54

Occupation: Niskayuna town attorney, attorney in private practice

Education: Graduated from SUNY Albany and Western New England School of Law, getting his law degree in 1988

Family: Married, two children ages 27 and 29

Party: Democrat, also on Conservative, Working Families and Green lines

McGraw is running for a second term. Current board member Jonathan McKinney chose not to seek re-election.

In the town justice race, two candidates are running for the seat being vacated by Justice Paul Zonderman, who is not seeking re-election. Democrat Peter Scagnelli is facing Republican Michael Horan for the job.

Town Board hopefuls

Della Ratta, 47, is a local attorney in private practice. He is married with two school-age children.

He said he wants to keep the town going in the direction it’s going.

“I think the town has done a very good job of controlling taxes and keeping most of the services intact,” Della Ratta said.

And the town has been able to do that while staying within the property tax cap, he said.

At the same time, Della Ratta said he wants to see if the town can spend more efficiently, though he noted that such opportunities can be harder to find on the town level.

Dussault is a local businessman. He did not return repeated calls for comment for this story.

McGraw, 46, is a partner in a government relations firm and also serves as chairwoman of the Schenectady County Community College board of trustees. She is married with one school-age daughter.

McGraw said she wants to continue the work she started in her first term.

She said the town faces a number of tough issues, including the tax cap, increasing pension costs and infrastructure challenges, all placing tough constraints on the budget.

“We’ve had to come up with creative solutions, while still providing services to our residents,” McGraw said.

McGraw has served as chairwoman of both the town’s highway and public works committees. She said that in those roles, she’s been able to get the two large town departments to work together, saving money.

McGraw has also focused her energies on getting the town’s sewer infrastructure fixed while keeping costs down and not disrupting service.

Eyeing the bench

In the town justice race, Horan and Scagnelli are both seeking their first terms as justice.

Horan, 63, is currently an attorney in private practice covering criminal and civil litigation. He graduated from SUNY Albany and got his law degree in 1977 from Albany Law School.

Horan said he believes that the job of justice will be interesting and challenging and that his background would be good for the job.

“I believe it’s a unique opportunity for public service, which utilizes my experience and courtroom skills developed over the last 35 years,” he said.

Scagnelli, 54, has been the part-time attorney for the town since 2010. Before that, he was deputy town attorney starting in 2000. He is also an attorney in private practice.

He graduated from SUNY Albany and got his law degree from Western New England School of Law in 1988. He has been a resident of the town for nearly three decades.

Scagnelli said his experience would be a good fit for the position.

“I’m committed to Niskayuna being a good town in which to live and work,” he said.

 
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