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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Niskayuna Town Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

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    Alexander Brownstein (GRN) Science Communicator, Lawyer

  • Walda Chesnut (GRN) LCSW-R

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  • THOMAS MCGARRY (CON, REP, REF) Retired NYS Govermenr Employee

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Biographical Information

Please describe the most important issues you would face in this position, and how you would deal with them.

How has your background and experience prepared you for this position.

Education B.A., University of Vermont (1990); J.D., University of Denver School of Law (1993); M.A. Bioethics, CUNY Graduate Center (2000)
Experience Attorney-bioethicist, science writer and communications professional. Deep experience scaling, building, managing and marketing tech-based products and ventures of all sizes. Co-Founder, Business Incubator Association of NY State. Co-Chair, NY State Bar Committee on Medical Research and Biotechnology
Niskayuna is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. However, our lifestyle is seriously threatened by extensive and unending development. That might be good for the tax base, but are those taxes worth it if they're not reinvested properly in the community and if the price we pay is for our roads to become one large traffic jam? Our infrastructure can't keep up.

I am a Green, which means my priorities are keeping our air, soil and water safe, promoting "Smart Growth" (especially safe, bikeable, walkable streets), slowing down town sprawl, maximizing our civil liberties, and government accountability.

My goals are to: (1) Restore Integrity, Transparency and Public Confidence in Government Actions & Elections; (2) Build a Strong, Sustainable Local Economy; (3) Foster an improved local environment by addressing locally-sourced Pollution and Toxic Exposure That Drives Up Healthcare Costs, Productivity Loss, and Ill Health

Details can be found at:
I've spent my career working in problem-solving settings, as a lawyer, and currently, as a communications executive in a global company whose clients range from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups.

My family and I have lived in Niskayuna for the past 15 years, and I’ve been an active citizen, providing pro bono legal services and volunteering for a wide range of public service initiatives. And, as the parent of a Junior at Niskayuna high school, I have a strong sense for what parents and children in the community are looking for from their local government.

I've also been co-chair of the NY State Bar Association's Committee on Biotechnology and Medical Research, which helps the legislature develop laws and policies to protect patients and ensure the safe and sensible use of new technologies in healthcare.

I will bring all of my education and experience to the table to ensure that the Town puts its citizens first in all matters.
Education MSW from Fordham University's School of Social Service
Experience 20 years of Clinical Social Work
Our current political system -- in which two parties dominate --is undemocratic. To ensure that diverse voices and values representing all of our citizens are heard we need the Green Party to have an equal part in the decisions affecting our community. The Green Party values grassroots democracy so does not accept donations by corporations, meaning we represent the people and ONLY the people. I love residing in Niskayuna, but feel that it could do more to promote a sustainable future for our next generations, particularly with greater safeguarding of our air, water and soil against further contamination from over-development. If you are a person with progressive values and are concerned about the environment, social justice, women's rights, non-violence, LGBTQ rights, and smart development that supports our community's health, then begin to vote Green. To find out more about the Green Party at
As a clinical social worker over the last 20 years I think of our shared Earth as a badly under-served client. Yes, we are slowly beginning to take steps to respect her, but in a time of so much sporadic climate changes and devastating super storms around the world the time has come to do more and to do it faster.

Education Graduate of: St. Michael's college, Bachelor of Science; Thomas Cooley Law School, Juris Doctor
Experience DellaRatta Law Office, Partner; 1996 to present. Niskayuna Town Board since 2014
Transparency is most important. Transparency leads to accountability and increased efficiency of governmental services; allowing for the best use of public funds. Because we are transparent and efficient Niskayuna has one of the lowest bond ratings in New York State. This, coupled with our commitment to intergovernmental cooperation, is saving Niskayuna taxpayers Hundreds of Thousands of dollars per year.
I have applied my background in Economics to improve the Town's tax base while preserving the residential character of our neighborhoods. We invested in multi-use paths that allow pedestrian and bicycle traffic to travel directly from our neighborhoods into our updated Parks and Recreational facilities and access Niskayuna's continuously expanding Riverfront.
Education BS-SUNY @ Brockport Graduate level courses-Union college
Experience I retired from NYS Government in 2010 as a Contract Manager for the NYS Office for Technology and was responsible for managing many large Government IT Contracts . I also served 36 years in the US Army on both Active Duty, in the NY National Guard and the Army Reserves' was deployed twice, once during the 1st Gulf War and then more recently in 2004-2005. I retired in 2014 from the Army Reserves as a Command Sergeant Major.
Schenectady County has been identified by the Empire Center as the County with the highest real property taxes in our region and among the highest in the state and nation. The Town of Niskayuna has the distinction of the highest average dollar amount of real property taxes paid by its residents. In the five year period from 2013 to 2017, the town has raised its real property tax levy by an outrageous 24.7%, an average rate of nearly 5%. The proposed election year miniscule tax cut does little to alleviate the prior years' increases. This rate of tax increases is unsustainable and unaffordable for those living on fixed incomes. In recent years, few people have been willing to step up to fight the perceived "Democrat machine" that controls town government, resulting in little dialog on important town issues such as the town budget and town taxes. I could no longer stand on the sidelines I will try my best to bring an open and honest dialog on town issues to Town Government.
Having worked many years in both State and Federal Government service, I am very aware of ways that government agencies may sometimes not spend taxpayer money to the best advantage. I want voters to know that as a fellow town taxpayer I will always keep in mind that the funds we are appropriating and spending is hard earned money that has been entrusted to us to spend wisely.
Education State University College at Brockport, Political Science and University of Charleston, Association Management
Experience Niskayuna Town Board Member, Chairwoman of the Public Works Committee and Highways & Public Facilities Committee, Deputy Town Supervisor, Immediate Past Chairwoman, Schenectady County Community College Board of Trustees, Past President & Sustainer advisor, Junior League of Schenectady & Saratoga Counties and Board of Directors, Association of Junior Leagues International, Co-Chairwoman, Niskayuna School District Educational Enrichment Fund, Assistant Leader, High School Girl Scout Troop 2383, Substitute Catechist, St. Kateri Tekawitha Parish, Co-Chairwoman, Niskayuna HS PTO Class of 2018 Senior Gala & Senior BBQ, Parent Co-Coordinator, Niskayuna Town Pool Swim & Dive Team, Founder & Sponsor, Niskayuna Town Halloween Parade
The most important issues facing Niskayuna right now are:

- safeguarding our streets by investing in our police force;

- working to create a fiscally sound plan to upgrade our aging infrastructure including a new waste water treatment plant and an aggressive road paving schedule;

- taking a "smart growth" approach to economic development that allows us to preserve the quality and character of our town while providing the opportunity and services our residents deserve; and

- maintaining our quality of life by committing to walking and biking trails, ensuring lawn debris is picked up and roads are plowed quickly, parks are improved, the Senior Center is upgraded, and our community programs are the best in the Capital Region.

Accomplishing all of this while keeping our property taxes well within the two percent growth rate.

As a small business owner, mother, community volunteer, and advocate for organizations such as the March of Dimes, YMCA, Proctors, and the Junior League, I have brought new, innovative, and cost-effective ways to advance the quality of life in Niskayuna and throughout the Capital Region.

I am also a tireless advocate for our community on both the state and federal levels by continuing to use my contacts in government and knowledge of public policy to fight for funding for infrastructure upgrades.
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