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COLONY – The pomp and circumstance are over, all oaths are taken with the right hand raised as exclamation marks and now a politically divided city council is to rule a city spanning nearly 58 square miles with a diverse population of nearly 85,000.

No easy task during good times and these are uncertain at best. COVID-19 is on the rise again, and the depths of the economic fallout – inflation – of the two-year pandemic are, in the eyes of some financial experts, yet to be realized. And the city council is divided three-three.

Asked about the divide today and the implications for the future, the three newly elected said the expected things, but there is a sincerity, a substance, behind the words based on decades of trust and not just sacred promises. .

Colonie Town board member Jeff Madden signs the oath book as City Clerk Julie Gansle looks on. (Jim Franco / Spotlight News)

“I announced it a day before he did it and I was at his family practicing my game of golf and he came over to give me a hug and said ‘are you mad at me? ‘ I said why would I be mad at you for slicing the bullet? It’s not your fault, “said Alvin Gamble, city council member.” And he said ‘you don’t know, is not it ?’ I said I don’t know what. He said ‘I’m running against you.’ And then we shook hands and said that we would never let politics get in the way of our 40 plus year old friendship. We have known each other our entire lives.

Gamble, a Democrat and the city’s first elected black, was talking about City Council member Jeff Madden, a Republican. The two grew up together at Colony, were both heavily involved in athletics and other community organizations, and both attended SUNY Brockport. They went their own way in finding their respective place in life, but have remained friends throughout and have now come full circle.

“I’m so good friends with Alvin, who’s on the other side, that I don’t see politics being a factor,” Madden said. “He and I have been friends for years and years and I think we’re going to work well together. Everyone up there wants what’s good for the city. It’s not national politics, it’s local politics, and we all want the best for our children and grandchildren. I think we will eliminate any differences that we have. “

City Council Member Alvin Gamble signs the oath book as City Clerk Julie Gansle looks on. (Jim Franco / Spotlight News)

Like Madden, Gamble, a deacon and administrator of his church, expects there to be disagreements among the diverse group of representatives, but hopes they will be resolved “with decency and order.”

“Not everyone will agree on everything, but I hope we will do things with decency and order. We may not always agree, but disagree amicably and respect each other’s point of view, ”said Gamble. “It means we all have a job to do, so let’s do the job. “

On paper, city council is split, but Supervisor Peter Crummey is also a Republican and will vote for the tiebreaker, so the GOP technically has a narrow 4-3 advantage for the first time in 14 years.

The last time city council was split 3-3 was in 2008, a year after now-retired Paula Mahan defeated Mary Brizzell for the supervisor position. Two years later, the Democrats took control and kept it until this year. For two years, Republicans were largely muzzled as the financial crisis slowly unfolded and since the party controlled the city for decades, the fault fell squarely on their shoulders.

Crummey won a much more decisive victory – 10 percentage points over Democrat Kelly Mateja – than the close city council races and although he needed the board’s support on the budget items and took a pragmatic approach of what awaits him and leaves no doubt that he is the only full member of the board of directors and the voters elected him to manage the day to day, nuts and bolts, the operations of the hotel city.

“The city has certain obligations. The city takes care of the infrastructure – water, sewers and roads and maintaining the parks we already own and maintaining public safety and that includes fire departments and emergency medical services – I think everyone world will join me, ”he said. “I believe, I hope we can collectively agree on how to do this. I understand that reasonable minds may differ, but eventually the voters of the city asked me to speak to the director of the town hall and I intend to be that director.

Madden and Gamble both say they have known Crummey for years and both say they respect his knowledge of the town and his unblemished history as a city court judge.

City Council member Melissa Jeffers signs the oath book as City Clerk Julie Gansle looks on. (Jim Franco / Spotlight News)

“It was fun. Everyone was great and we had great support and I can’t wait to work with Peter,” Madden said of his first foray into the election race. ‘experience in the city, so I think it’s going to be good. “

“I’ve known Peter forever and the Gansles and all,” Gamble said of his Republican counterparts Crummey and City Clerk Julie Gansle and her family. “I am friends with each of them, we are all friends, and I think because of that I think we will have a tight and close city council focused on the good work.”

When Melissa Jeffers won her first four-year term on City Council in 2017, she was one of the youngest to be elected to the body and the first of the Millennial Generation. Then, like last year, she received the most votes among the six candidates running. But this year, instead of being the neophyte, the little news of the district, she is the dean of the board of directors. Also, for the first time in her short political career, she is in the minority. Outgoing Republicans Danielle Futia and Rick Fields and Democrat Jill Penn were elected two years ago to four-year terms. Their seats are available in 2023.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the job done for the residents,” she said. “I firmly believe in putting people before politics and I see an opportunity for everyone to work together and succeed in their mandate.”

Pete Gannon, who worked on Mahan’s first campaign in 2007 and at City Hall for the years that followed, said the board’s readiness to work together was “as it should be.”

“You have great professionals with extensive experience in running the city on a day-to-day basis – who do a great job for the riding,” said Gannon, who is now the president and CEO of United Way of the region. of the great capital. “In many ways the board is there to support these professionals, kind of stay away, but listen and make sure they have the resources they need to deliver to the city.

“If you want to start a fringe political movement, go to Twitter. Board members should support these professionals and the supervisor, and do their best to provide some semblance of accountability for their actions.

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