Depending on your perspective, Doug Beaty has a long history of either shaking things up or mucking things up.
First as a citizen railing against the Queensbury school budget.
Then as a member of the Queensbury Board of Education who was often the lone dissenter against spending.
And now as an at-large supervisor from Queensbury demanding answers — and information — to tough questions.
Beaty says his votes are above the politics and his goal is to do the right thing for the people who voted him into office. He says he has the most independent voting record of anyone on the board, and that’s why he voted for Democrat Peter McDevitt instead of Republican incumbent Ron Conover to be the next chairman.
Not only is it unusual to see a Republican cross party lines on a vote of such magnitude, it is almost unheard of for the supervisors to have a choice as chairman.
“I wanted a person in there that would give us the best shot at transparency,” said Beaty. “I don’t think Peter is the second coming of God or anything, but he assured me that he would share information with the board as soon as he got it.”
That’s Beaty’s beef.
He believes that Conover and former chairman Kevin Geraghty, the supervisor from Warrensburg who has been acting as county administrator, have been less than forthcoming over the years about providing valuable information on important county issues.
Glens Falls Supervisor Claudia Braymer said much the same thing in nominating McDevitt as chairman.
“I would say that other people share my point of view but don’t have the guts to act on it,” Beaty said. “I look in the mirror and I know I made the right choice. I can’t keep going with the same type of program we had the past four years. It is not going to change until we get a change in leadership. They put up with Mr. Conover and that is horrendous. He withholds information on issue after issue.”
Beaty went back to the Siemens controversy as an example, along with the deal to sell the Westmount nursing home and the most recent decision to hire a county attorney as examples of supervisors being kept in the dark.
The question then becomes why?
“So they can control the vote,” Beaty said. “If you don’t have knowledge, you control the people. Some of these supervisors don’t want to do the work or dig in. The easiest way to get re-elected is to go with the flow. I don’t give a crap about that. Let’s put the best people in the best positions.”
Ultimately, 12 of the 18 supervisors present voted for Conover, mostly along party lines.
Beaty acknowledged Republican Party officials called him before the vote and asked him where he stood.
“No one asked me to vote for Conover, no one asked me to reconsider,” Beaty said. “So that is a major step forward because there was no pressure put on. I know they do that to other people. I know the Democrats do that to people.”
Beaty had his own run-in with the Republican Party earlier in his tenure. After being elected as an at-large supervisor, Beaty was not endorsed by the Republicans for a second term. He ran without the help of the party and won a second term on the board with the second most votes. He received the most votes in the at-large supervisor race this past November.
“It was not a Republican or Democratic thing,” Beaty said. “It was the individual and the job he had done. Let’s just do the right thing.
“I hope we can see more of the board being independent down the road,” Beaty said. “I think we have some momentum. I think we are seeing a new wave of public servants that don’t adhere to any one party or one stance.”
That also might help the county avoid some of its past mistakes.