QUEENSBURY — As Queensbury Town Board member William VanNess prepares to leave elected office, his colleagues have begun the process of living without him.
VanNess will become the Warren County Republican elections commissioner at the end of the month.
The Town Board interviewed three candidates to replace him in a meeting Wednesday that went past 9:30 p.m. and included interviewing one candidate by video as she sat in a rental car in Tuscon, Arizona.
The board can either appoint someone to replace VanNess or leave the seat vacant until the November election. Board members will consider a vote next month, Supervisor John Strough said.
Three people applied to be appointed:
Jennifer Switzer, a Democrat who ran twice for the seat and lost by just four votes in 2013;
G. Travis Whitehead, a resident and retired engineer who attends many of the town meetings and does not plan to run for election to the position this fall; and
Tim Brewer, who was the longtime councilman for Ward 4 before being arrested for DWAI in 2012 while taking painkillers for a back injury, after which the Republicans did not endorse him for re-election.
Each of them was asked why they wanted to be appointed to the board.
Switzer, who was interviewed first, answered questions from a video screen after she flew into Arizona. She was on her way to her son’s graduation from Army military intelligence training, but linked up with the board using her cellphone.
She noted that she was the town’s budget officer from 2003 to 2006. She now is the director of finance at the Warren County Economic Development Corporation and CFO of the Warren County Local Development Corporation.
“I have a really strong background in municipal finance. Also, I know what the needs are for small businesses,” she said. “My professional background and my running for office make me uniquely qualified to step into that position. I think it might be difficult for other people to get up to speed.”
Whitehead, who was interviewed next, said he was best able to start work immediately because he attends most of the Town Board and workshop meetings.
“You’re going to have me whether you want me or not,” he added, referring to his plan to continue attending meetings.
Brewer said he would love to have his old seat back.
“I do truly miss it. I enjoy helping people in the town,” he said. “I think I’ve shown in the past I can solve problems. And I enjoy that, and I think I can do a good job.”
He was the Ward 4 councilman for 14 years. He noted that meant he understood the town’s codes, how the budget is developed and how things get done.
The candidates were also asked about their goals.
Switzer said she wants to market the new trampoline park and rock climbing arena to draw more of those types of businesses and customers.
“We can be known as the little recreation area,” she said.
Whitehead would offer his skills in analyzing projects the town is implementing or considering.
“I decided perhaps I could use my engineering skills to help,” he said. “I think I would add some additional talents to the board. My focus would be more town-wide.”
But in Ward 4, he said, he’d like to find solutions to the bottleneck under the Northway overpass at Exit 18.
Brewer, who was also on the Planning Board for nine years, said he would take a close look at future development.
“I’d like to see more development toward the way the plan was written,” he said.
Strough said afterward that the board is not committed to appointing anyone. He asked board members to think about the candidates until March, when they could hold a vote.
“If you feel strongly about making an appointment, we will make one,” he said.