By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — Republicans nominated a full slate of candidates for the November town elections at their caucus at the Ravena Grange last week.
Two seats on the town council, highway superintendent, town clerk and town justice will be on the ballot.
The two council candidates, Marisa Tutay and Stephen Schmitt, are appointees who were named to the board this year after two council members stepped down.
Running for highway superintendent will be Daniel Baker, and Candace McHugh will be on the ballot for town clerk. Both have also been appointed to the positions to replace their predecessors — former Highway Superintendent Scott Searles, who retired, and Laura Jane Barry, who stepped down as town clerk in January for health reasons after a few days on the job.
Town justice candidate Linda Tammy Eissing is running for a full four-year term.
All candidates were also endorsed by the town’s Conservative Party.
Town Councilwoman Marisa Tutay was appointed to the town board in January to replace former Councilman Zachary Collins, who was elected to the Albany County Legislature.
Tutay, whose maiden name was Nunziato, was born and raised in Ravena and lives on property in Coeymans that has been in her husband’s family for 100 years. She graduated from RCS High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at The College of Saint Rose.
She taught elementary school in Guilderland for 12 years before securing a teaching position at A.W. Becker Elementary School in Selkirk, where she now serves as curriculum content specialist for math and science and math interventionist for grades K-5. She has been teaching for 31 years.
Before her appointment to the town council, Tutay was on the town’s planning board. She was a member of the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary for about six years, where she served as president and vice president. She also taught religious instruction at St. Patrick’s Church.
“If I am elected my primary goal is to create and foster a sense of community between all facets of the town,” Tutay said. “I think that is vital to us being a successful community and to have environmentally sound economic development — I think that is very important. I grew up in a town that is very different than the town is today, and I would love for people to experience the closeness of the community and growth that is positive for our children, and that includes being environmentally conscious, not just putting in industry that will make us economically successful, but to make it environmentally successful and to create a sense of community — those are my three biggest goals.”
Tutay would also like to see additional programming for youth and older residents, she added, as well as encourage the town and village to work together.
“I really would like to see greater cooperation between the town and the village,” Tutay said. “I think there has been, in the past — and I don’t know if that is true of this particular administration — but sometimes they get in the way of each other and I think if we worked together more efficiently, we could really make Coeymans a star on the stage of the county.”
Tutay has been appointed by the council to work with Town Councilman Brandon Lefevre on organizing the town’s 350th anniversary celebration, she said.
Town council candidate Stephen Schmitt was appointed to the town board in March to replace Baker after he stepped down to take a position in the highway department. Schmitt is a lifelong resident of Coeymans and graduated from the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school district.
Prior to being appointed to the board, Schmitt served on the town’s zoning board of appeals — and later the joint planning/zoning board of appeals after the two boards were consolidated — for 11 years, including eight years as chairman.
He has worked as a paralegal for the past 20 years and has an associate degree from Maria College and a bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College.
“I consider myself a good listener and I am not afraid to stand up for what is right for our residents,” Schmitt said. “I think being on the zoning board of appeals and then the joint planning/zoning board of appeals has given me a lot of insight. When I was asked to take Councilman Baker’s position, I thought this was a good way for me to expand and use my experience on the planning/zoning board of appeals and now I feel like I can help the community, help the businesses, help my fellow government representatives to continue to move the town of Coeymans in the onward and upward direction that it has been going.”
If elected in November, among Schmitt’s top priorities will be expanding broadband access.
“We live off Starr Road and for a very long time, up until last year, we didn’t have any broadband here,” Schmitt said. “I really would like to continue the trend with broadband expansion for everyone in the town of Coeymans because it is absolutely necessary. A lot of our residents are in rural areas and there are only a small number of houses, so these (broadband) corporations don’t want to spend because it costs a lot of money to create the infrastructure. I really want to focus on that and utilize grants and other non-taxpayer dollars to ensure that the town of Coeymans has access to broadband for everyone.”
Former Town Councilman Daniel Baker was named special assistant to the highway superintendent in early March upon the announcement of former superintendent Scott Searles’ retirement, and last week was appointed superintendent by the board. He is running in November to complete Searles’ three-year term.
“I worked for Lafarge for 20 years in the heavy construction industry,” Baker said. “I was also in the quarry for a while where there was heavy equipment operations, maintenance operations, ground operations, and half of those years I was manager of the Maintenance Department. I was heavy equipment operator at Flach Industries doing infrastructure repairs, truck driving, equipment operations, and so on. I have been in this business my whole life in some form or another.”
Baker is a lifelong resident of Coeymans and Ravena and graduated from RCS High School. And though he resigned from his position as town councilman, he continues to serve as deputy town supervisor, though he no longer has a vote on the board. If elected, he is looking to continue making improvements, he said.
“Some of my goals are to try to make some efficiencies within the Highway Department, continue to improve the current roads in the town of Coeymans and continue to deliver service to the taxpayers in many different ways, whether cleaning the roads, clearing brush and leaves, putting in culverts — there are many different facets of the roads that I would like to see continue to improve in the town of Coeymans.”
If elected, Baker said he would be available to residents to assist with any road-related issues.
Linda Tammy Eissing will be on the ballot for a full four-year term for town justice. She is a lifelong resident of Ravena and graduated from RCS High School, going on to earn an associate degree from Eastern Gateway Community College. She has been clerk to the town justices for the past 30 years.
“I have always had a respect for the law and I spent 30 years in the court system,” Eissing said. “I gained so much knowledge and experience from my court clerk position and at my age, it’s the next step that I would like to take. I have always wanted to be a judge and it’s my passion. I would like to take that step into that honorable position.”
Eissing said that if elected, she would “promote fair and equal justice.”
“I just want to do the best that I can as a town justice,” she said. “I have the time and the experience and the knowledge, and I would like to fulfill all the obligations for our local justice court.”
Candace McHugh was appointed to the town clerk’s position in January when former clerk Laura Jane Barry resigned for health reasons after a few days on the job. McHugh is the sister-in-law of Town Supervisor George McHugh. She is running for a three-year term.
“I was born and raised in the hamlet of Coeymans and went to RCS,” she said. “I have always lived here — I have never lived anywhere else. I like my town.”
After completing some coursework at Hudson Valley Community College, Candace McHugh was an assistant manager for a car rental company and after having children spent years as a stay-at-home mother. She served as a parish councilor for St. Thomas the Apostle and as a member of the school’s board, working on many of their charitable auctions.
When George McHugh was elected town supervisor in 2020, Candace McHugh became his confidential secretary, a position she held for two years before being appointed town clerk.
If elected, she is looking to continue digitizing some of the town’s historical records.
“Cindy [Rowzee], the previous clerk, has done an excellent job as far as records management by putting everything in a digital format and I would like to continue that, but also I noticed over the past month or so there are some historical records that need some repair,” McHugh said. “There are some birth and death books, and things of that sort, that really need to be preserved a little bit better so I would like to be able to incorporate the electronic aspect of the history, but also have that paper historical record as well.”
Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 8.