Ds Scholarship

Peter Crummey takes over as Colonie Town Supervisor

Among the local government leadership changes with the new year, Peter Kramey takes over as Colony Town Supervisor. The Republican replaced Democrat Paula Mahan as the leader of the largest suburb in the metropolitan area. Mahan, who has held office since 2008, did not seek re-election. Karami, the town’s judge who resigned to run for superintendent, beat Democrat Kelly Matega in November. Karami spoke with WAMC’s Jim Livolis on Friday, before being sworn in on New Year’s Day.

Karami: I entered service as the Town Superintendent of Colony with tremendous excitement. But as we know, it is not without great challenges on many levels. In addition to what I would like to do on day one, which I have told residents I intend to do, during my campaign, is to put forward a more ambitious schedule of road repairs. As you know, the city has approximately 350 miles of roads. We have an obligation to maintain those roads. And I think one of the biggest problems presented to me as I went door-to-door during the campaign, and as a townspeople all my life, was road maintenance. So I’ve told the Department of Highways and the Commissioner of Public Works that we’re going to ramp up the miles of roads to be fixed in 2022. It’s very exciting. I’ve also spoken to the Comptroller, and currently the Finance staff at Town Hall, to walk us through on how we can make that happen under the current budget, and I think that’s exactly what we’ll be able to do a great job for us. It is clear, in addition, that Colony remains a great place to live, work and play, and we will certainly maintain our level of public safety. And we always want to maintain our potable water supply and maintain the pure water department as well as the sewage system. Finally, of course, I told everyone, it is my priority to maintain and improve our gardens. And I have some plans already in place for the north park along the Mohawk River where we enjoy the waterfront on the Mohawk River, and how to revitalize our waterfront edge and revitalize that beautiful park along the Mohawk River.

Boat launch at Colony Mohawk River Park

Livolis: Yes, if I remember correctly this summer’s boat launch on the Mohawk River, it was pretty bloated in terms of boating out.

Cromey: Jim, you’re absolutely right. And I’ve actually been there a few different times and have already done a campaign video regarding that. Sadly, over the years, the boat launch that was available to the residents of Colony Township has been overgrown and not maintained. And some problems are created by the sediment that has accumulated along the banks of our water line. And water chestnuts and other plants that made it really impossible to launch any boat in the area. The dock is gone. There is no berth, I asked where it was, and I thought it was in a cold store somewhere. But we can activate that. And I’ll ask the state of New York, who are obviously ultimately responsible for the Mohawk, if they’ve come and helped us drench that area so that we can once again give the townspeople a chance to release the boats.

Livolis: At the beginning of the talk, you mentioned the challenges facing the city. COVID-19, it’s not just something the city but our nation is facing. What are your plans for the distribution of COVID-19 test kits, which were available in the city this week, and which only lasted a few hours after the capture details were announced.

Karami: I understand that and I received an update from the current administration on Monday on how they plan to distribute both the 1600 and 25,000 KN95 test suites. You clearly know the distribution has been effective. But like the rest of the country, it appears to be insufficient. We as the City of Colony, are a subdivision of Albany County and have an Albany County Health Department and will work closely with them and the County Executive. [Dan] McCoy is in the process of distributing and getting a greater share of the test kits that are so important to all of our citizens as we go forward. It’s, you know, working collaboratively with other levels of government and we’ve demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively with all parties in connection with my 21 years of service as a city judge. We will do the same here. I look forward to working with our county officials who maintain the county health department to make sure we are on the cutting edge of what is necessary and what can be delivered to the city of Colony.

Livolis: You mentioned the cooperation between different levels of government, now Colony is the largest suburb in the area, about 85,000 people. But you’ve noticed in the past, that when you include those who work, shop, and travel across town, the daytime population can be close to 250,000 people. Now this puts it widely even outside the cities of the region. Have you had the opportunity to speak with the leaders of the vicinity? You know, Albany Mayor Cathy Sheehan and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy while you were in office.

Karami: Not yet in terms of how we develop our software collectively. We already have some common services agreements, not only with the state of New York, for example, in the DOT, but other agreements that can easily be entered into with the county in terms of roadworks, but it’s the metropolitan area and the colony that is definitely on the table. I look forward to working with them as well. I mean, every municipality has its own challenges and characteristics. Thus there may be priorities in some municipalities, which may differ in neighboring municipalities. But still, we are all in the same boat as we try to move forward to serve the citizens within our municipality. I look forward to a collaborative relationship, as we develop that, on behalf of the citizens, not only of the city of Colony, but the greater metropolitan area.

Levulis: The Colony City Council has voted to ban on-site recreational marijuana consumption while allowing retail stores in the city. Do you support this approach?

Crome: Yes. I was at the city council public hearings last fall where they finally got to allow dispensaries but not at this time to allow a marijuana lounge or a cannabis lounge. And that bait was based in part on the testimony given by the then chief of police and saying that, you know, it’s now very difficult to actually take a driving test with poor drug ability and without the technology to make sure our streets stay safe. The recommendation was not to allow consumption lounges on site. And I think that makes sense as a judge for 21 years presiding over hundreds if not thousands of DWI and DWAI cases, because of drugs, alcohol testing has been so improved that it has a better sense of identifying intoxication. But for other types of medication, it involves drawing more blood. So in this particular case, I think it’s now very difficult to manage this kind of implementation. I think the city council did the right thing. In New York State, we have more than 1,500 municipalities, and more than 900 of them have already decided the way the city decided last fall to allow store and not on-site consumption.

Levulis: Cities are allowed to re-subscribe for on-site consumption. Do you support this move in the future?

Karami: Well, it all depends on the facts and circumstances presented at the time. I am already aware that that city can choose to subscribe at a later time. As a judge, I look at most situations the way I did as a judge, you gather facts, you establish credibility, you make the decision. So we are very far from receiving the facts necessary to make this decision at this time. But I am always, you know, happy, you know, to receive facts as the world turns.

Levulis: There is also legislation in Colony to extend the terms of supervisor and clerk from two to four years. If approved, it will not affect your tenure. But do you support moving it from two to four years?

Kurumi: It’s been long overdue. It’s funny that you brought this up. Of course, I came to town hall 41 years ago, when I was a student at Albany Law School. I was an intern at the city attorney’s office. And after graduation, I was appointed deputy city attorney. During my service, full time service and then in the Attorney General’s office, I was asked to prepare a memorandum regarding how to do this. And the memo I prepared and submitted to the city attorney, which of course was reviewed with then-Superintendent Fred Field, so they could see the necessary steps. It’s a multi-step process as you know. The first step is for the city council to adopt a bylaw, extending the term from two to four years. It was already done earlier this month [December]. The next stop is for voters to decide next November as a ballot proposal whether they also support the city council’s recommendation. And if they do, when the Supervisors race returns for election in November 2023, whoever is chosen by the electorate to serve in that capacity will have a four-year term. I think it is vital to the progress of the town of Colony. City council has four years, city magistrates have four, and tax recipients have those extended terms. And in a city like you, nearly 85,000 people said they think I haven’t taken the oath yet. Tomorrow, of course at noon, I will be sworn in on January 1st. And after 13 or 14 months, I have a petition in hand asking for re-election. It’s a lot when you’re trying to run a company that has a $105 million budget this year that you inherited from the previous city council and manage that and then have a side lane to look for reelection in 13 or 14 months. It’s time for Colony to move forward. I am pleased to see that it is not only Democrat Paul Mahan, our outgoing supervisor, who brought this matter to the negotiating table in her last month in office, defending it. Mary Brezel, the former Republican city superintendent, testified at the public hearing that she also believed the right thing to do. Collectively, these two may have served as city supervisors for 28 years collectively. And each comes from both sides of the aisle to say this is the right thing. I agree with them.

Levulis: Put the cart before the horse a little bit here. Do you expect to be on the ballot in November 2023?

Karume: God willing, yes.

Livolis: Finally, is there anything you would like the people of Colony, the people of the metropolitan area, to know when you take over as the new superintendent of the town of Colony?

Karami: Well, I certainly first of all thank the citizens of Colony Town who have shown their trust in me to carry the mantle of steward as we move forward. I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve our town for 41 consecutive years in a variety of offices most recently as a Colony Town Judge of 21 years. As a native of Colony, I can’t think of anything more exciting now. that as we entered the new year, I was chosen by the city to serve them in that capacity. And I want all of our townspeople to know that as I set out on the challenges ahead, they should know that my fortitude is being maintained by their continued support of my efforts on their behalf. I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here