By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — The town board is considering extending the town supervisor’s term from two years to four years.
If the new four-year term is adopted, it would apply to the next supervisor’s term, not the current one.
Deputy Town Supervisor Daniel Baker introduced the proposal Jan. 13 for a local law expanding the supervisor’s term in office.
“We did a little research on this. All of Albany County government, everybody — county executive, comptroller, the sheriff — everybody in Albany County government is all four-year terms,” Baker said. “The village of Ravena, everybody there is also a four-year term. The only one in the town of Coeymans that is not a four-year term is the supervisor’s seat.”
Town board members, clerk and highway superintendent in the town are all four-year terms.
The law would require a mandatory referendum, giving voters the chance to have their voices heard on the issue.
Town Councilwoman Marisa Tutay said converting the supervisor’s term to four years makes sense.
“You are running and you have a year, actually, to really delve into what you want to do, and then you are preparing for another election,” Tutay said. “This has been since before Supervisor [George] McHugh. It has never really made sense to me when everyone else is four years and this would be two years. It stops you in your tracks a little bit and I just think it would benefit the town to have someone there consistently for the four years.”
McHugh was elected in November 2021 and the supervisor’s seat will be up for election again in 2023.
Baker went over the timeline for the election and said it is time consuming to run every two years.
“The supervisor just won the election and so this year, 2022, is a year to work for the town, so this year is pretty seamless,” Baker said. “Come this time next year, however, the supervisor will start gearing up, if he chooses to run. You start in February, March, with caucuses, primaries and so on, so really next year, the supervisor will start working on a campaign.”
Campaigning takes a great deal of time and effort, Baker added.
“I am not complaining, we do it because we love the town of Coeymans, but it’s a lot of work,” the deputy supervisor said.
Town Councilwoman Linda Bruno also pointed to continuity as a reason to expand the term.
“It keeps the continuity for any projects we are working on as a board,” Bruno said. “It would be like if a supervisor was pulled out of a job on any plans that they were working on in any type of business — you lose that momentum, you lose the continuity, and the partners that work so well together, I think that is tampered with, too.”
McHugh stressed that if the change is made, it would not apply to the current term that he just started.
“If the mandatory referendum passes, it has nothing to do with the term I am in,” McHugh said. “It is for future terms, which I may not be a part of, so it has nothing to do with me.”
Being up for election every two years makes it difficult to complete long-term projects, such as the park renovation the town board is currently working on, McHugh said.
“We are dealing with a $1.2 million grant and an upgrade of our Riverfront Park,” McHugh said. “We got the grant last year and now we are just starting to get to construction on it and how long have we planned this? You can’t really finish a whole lot in two years. You can get things started, but you are not going to see it to completion. You can in four years.”
No decisions were made on the proposal at the Jan. 13 meeting.