MALTA — One month before her term in office expires, Malta Town Clerk Flo Sickels is “retiring” on Dec. 1 according to a report in the Daily Gazette this week. [Read more…]
MALTA-Cynthia Young believes her decades of experience on committees and other town government bodies have prepared her to be Malta’s Town Supervisor, and is campaigning on her belief that her experience makes her a better choice than her opponent.
The Democratic candidate, who boasts endorsements from Congressman Paul Tonko and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, first got involved in her local government “at least” 22 or 23 years ago, she said, originally deciding to seek the position of Deputy Town Clerk. She entered the race in the cycle after her son first turned 18, frustrated that no positions were contested when he voted for the first time.
“I just think that’s wrong,” Young said of the uncontested ballot. “In order for the process to work, we need contested elections.”
Besides serving as Deputy Clerk, Young helped the town construct a records management room with grant funding she applied for, worked as a part time data collector for the Assessor, and was even the town’s original webmaster, building its original website.
In between each position, Young went stretches without working for the town, largely because the positions grew and demanded full-time attention, and she wanted to have more time at home to spend with her three then-young children. But throughout her residency in Malta, Young said she’s attended “hundreds, if not thousands” of town council meetings.
Young’s longest-held positions are those on the Board of Assessment Review and Zoning Board of Appeals, which she has held for 10 and eight years, respectively. She also sat on the Youth Commission for about 10 years, but left because it “needed some new blood,” she said.
“I’m very passionate about Malta. This town means a lot to me,” Young said.
If elected, she plans to help the town manage its future growth very carefully, putting her experience to work in order to guide the town’s growth without allowing it to lose what she described as its “rural character.”
”I think we need a supervisor that really understands how to move Malta forward. Over the past few years we’ve stagnated, and a lot of that is indecision on where we want to go,” Young said. She said she felt the sitting Town Board has “kicked the can down the road too often,” delaying key decisions on issues affecting the town’s potential for growth.
First and foremost, she said, the town needs to reassess and refocus its economic development priorities, and fill empty commercial and industrial spaces that have sat vacant for years, draining the town’s resources.
”I think we need to have concentrated commercial development in particular areas,” Young said. “I agree that Ellsworth [Commons] was a little too much all at once, and since then the zoning has been changed to scale back from Ellsworth.”
The Luther Forest Technology Park also needs more tenants than solely GlobalFoundries, Young said, emphasizing that recent zoning changes will make it possible for the town to incentivize potential incoming companies moving forward. She added that the town will now be able to offer access to programs such as StartUP New York, offering tax breaks to attract new business.
Young said the park needs to attract new tenants in order to have any value for the town.
If we have no development at all, we never get any benefits from it,” she said. “Zero percent of zero is zero. If we can provide jobs for people to work in the tech park, that’s an advantage to everybody, and eventually those tax breaks expire. We’ll be creating jobs, and that’s good for the general economy.”
In addition to economic development, Young said the town needs to ensure its volunteer emergency services are well trained and well-staffed, to reduce the risk that the town will need to pay for full-time personnel in the future. Young said the teams need to be staffed around the clock, and provided with the needed resources to prevent incurring extra costs for the town.
Unlike her opponent Vincent DeLucia, Young said she does not believe the town has any serious issues with corruption. Instead, she said, it’s a few specific individuals who have contributed to the town’s problems, and the existing regulations for handling the situation are effective enough.
”I do not believe that there is an ethics problem generally within the town; there are individuals who have been questioned, but I think if we use the process the way it is, effectively, it’s fine,” Young said. “In the candidate forum for the Town Board members, the word corruption was used, and that is totally uncalled for. I don’t think there’s corruption; I think we have a lot of really good, quality people working for the town.”
That forum included harsh comments from challengers to candidate Tara Thomas, whose mother, Flo Sickels, has been accused of misconduct as the town’s sitting Clerk.
But more than anything else, Young said the town needs to be sure not to endanger the qualities that make it so appealing to residents, such as its rural and open spaces.
”I think we need economic development, but that needs to be hand in hand with very careful planning to not hurt our quality of life,” Young said.
Her family’s long history in the area is a key factor in her passion for its continued success.
”Making sure Malta doesn’t lose its sense of family and community is very important to me, because family is important to me,” Young said. “Saratoga County I think is the greatest place in New York to live.”
MALTA – A handful of residents used the Town Board meeting on Monday to voice their deep displeasure with the actions of the Town Clerk Flo Sickels and her continued service as an elected official. [Read more…]
Citing “Procedural Problems and Issues,” Town Sends Report back to Ethics Committee to Re-Submit
UPDATE: Ethics Committee attorney Christine Carsky said the complaint was re-signed under penalty of perjury Tuesday. Carsky’s additional comments have been added to the article, first published 10:38 a.m. Nov. 19.
MALTA – The Town Board sent a report suggesting Town Clerk Flo Sickels be censured for ethical misconduct back to the town Ethics Committee at a meeting Monday night, saying the committee had not entirely followed proper legal procedures. [Read more…]
MALTA – If you are a dog owner in Malta who has yet to register your precious pooch with the town, you may soon come home to an unpleasant surprise on your front door: a violation notice that could lead to a ticket costing upwards of $250. [Read more…]
Ethics Committee: Town Clerk Ran Political Campaign on Taxpayer’s Time
UPDATE: The Ethics Committee hearing scheduled for Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. has been cancelled. Chairwoman Mary Law Powell stated: “We scheduled the meeting when we weren’t sure if we would be permitted to speak at the Oct. 28 Town Agenda meeting. As we were permitted to speak at that meeting we saw no reason to have the Nov. 4 meeting.”
MALTA – Town Clerk Flo Sickels was found to have violated town ethics laws by engaging in activities related to her re-election campaign during work hours and seeking out town employees’ help to do so, a nonpartisan committee reported Monday.
By Greg Hitchcock
BALLSTON–How does someone say goodbye to something that has been a part of his or her life for what seems like forever? Just ask long-serving public servant and Ballston Town Clerk Muriel Swatling.
“I grew up with it,” Swatling said about serving the community of Ballston.
Swatling, 68, will be retiring as town clerk after serving 34 years in that position, greeting town residents as they come to ask for a form, fill out an application, or to just chat.
Swatling said she is no stranger to town government. Her father was town clerk for 31 years from 1941 to 1972, Swatling serving for a time as his deputy town clerk. Then, after an interim when Bob Ray served, 1972-1977, the town asked Swatling to run. Swatling has been running ever since, winning election victories 12 times in a row.
“When my dad retired, they originally asked me to run,” Swatling remembered. “I hesitated because I was taking care of my kids.”
At that time, the town clerk’s office was in Swatling’s father’s hardware store. Swatling said she did not want to operate in her dad’s store and didn’t want to run the town clerk’s office from her home.
“I did not want the job unless they built me a town hall,” she said. “They just happened to be in the process of building one.”
The Ballston Town Council held their meetings in a highway garage on the corner of Middle Line Road and Charlton Road.
Ballston’s Town Hall was eventually constructed at 323 Charlton Road finished in 1976.
In the past 34 years Swatling has served under three supervisors, the latest being Patti Southworth.
“It will be difficult not to see Muriel,” Southworth said. “She is willing to share, which benefits everyone.”
“She is the face of Ballston,” Southworth said.
An open house is scheduled for Thursday Dec. 8 from 4 to 7 pm at the town hall in honor of Swatling’s many years of service to the greater Ballston community. It is open to the public and donations are being accepted.
Swatling said the most she has gotten out of serving as town clerk is meeting different members of the Ballston community.
“We have a great community. I met people I never would have met if not,” Swatling said.
Swatling said she is leaving with bittersweet feelings.
“Part of me will be missing this lot,” she said.
Swatling said being town clerk has been a major part of her life, but she said she is interested in pursuing more personal interests such as volunteering, serving her church, or just having the time to visit friends.
She also said she will be looking out this winter from the home she has grown up in to see cars struggling to make it over the snow-swept road to get to work and warmly laugh.