Even during a pandemic that has roiled communities across the state and nation, Queensbury is in an enviable position as a stable, safe and solvent municipality.
If you live in Queensbury, you can take advantage of the beauty of the Adirondack wilderness without having to endure the isolation of an Adirondack hamlet. You’re within commuting distance of Albany and a short drive from the shopping and cultural offerings of Saratoga Springs. You can live next to woods on a quiet cul de sac but pop into Glens Falls, with its library and museums and downtown restaurants, whenever you please.
Queensbury’s quality of life comes close to the golden mean, and the town strikes a good balance with its politics, too. Enough people are interested that the Town Board attracts high-quality candidates, but that interest is usually not so avid it leads to partisan divisiveness.
When partisanship goes beyond the pale, as it did three years ago in a fight for the town supervisor’s seat and various other things, local voters have little patience for it. They want representatives focused on getting things done to make the living conditions in Queensbury even better – improving the town’s infrastructure, keeping town taxes low while maintaining services and dealing with emerging quality of life issues such as short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.
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The race for Ward 4 has drawn three candidates – each outstanding in their own way – but the best fit for Queensbury, the person best suited to this moment in the town’s development, is Amanda Magee, a local business owner and the current occupant of the Ward 4 seat.
Magee, a Democrat, was appointed to the board at the end of June, after Jennifer Switzer, also a Democrat, resigned because of conflicts with a new job. Also seeking the job are Travis Whitehead, an independent well known in town for challenging the accepted orthodoxy; and Tim McNulty, a Republican and a retired colonel who ran a large U.S. Army installation in South Korea.
As you might expect in a town that is functioning well, the policy differences among the three candidates are slight. All three believe the board was right to require a septic system inspection when waterfront properties are transferred, and all three want the law broadened to include the whole town. All three see a need for stricter regulation of short-term rentals. All three say Queensbury Central can go without the fire siren that was broken for seven years but is functional again and annoying neighbors.
The choice does not come down to candidates’ positions on issues but to their backgrounds and personal characteristics. What kind of board member would each of them be? How do their strengths line up with what the community needs?
Magee is an entrepreneur, the co-founder of a successful firm in Glens Falls, Trampoline Design, that employs 19 people. She also co-founded Glens Falls Collaborative, a member-based organization that promotes the Glens Falls region.
Whitehead is a self-described watchdog whose dogged search for the truth was instrumental in uncovering three major local scandals – the Siemens fiasco, in which Siemens was overcharging Warren County in two separate energy contracts; the questionable loans made by Lake Champlain Lake George Planning Board; and the corruption of the Lake George Watershed Coalition director, David Decker, who was recently convicted of several felonies for stealing public funds.
McNulty is the former installation commander of an Army base in Seoul, where he was in charge of about 25,000 people and a $125 million budget. At one point, he was ordered to cut that budget in half. He put together teams to look at all of the base’s operations, determining what was essential and what could be cut, and came up with a workable budget.
Queensbury doesn’t suffer from the chronic corruption or incompetence that would make necessary the election of a detail-oriented engineer with a knack for sniffing out fraud. Whitehead has had some impressive successes in identifying shady setups, and we hope he continues with that. But most of the Town Board’s work is collaborative, not confrontational.
Queensbury might benefit from the leadership capabilities of an Army colonel, but as supervisor. Town Board members have to work together to get things done, taking their lead from the town supervisor. Perhaps Mr. McNulty will consider running for the town’s top job sometime.
Queensbury is in admirable condition, financially and otherwise, and it doesn’t need a watchdog like Whitehead or a trained leader like McNulty to fix it. It needs someone who can make connections, listen, strive for consensus and embrace positive compromises. That person is Amanda Magee.
Local editorials are written by the Post-Star editorial board, which includes Ben Rogers, president and director of local sales and marketing; Brian Corcoran, regional finance director and former publisher; Will Doolittle, projects editor; and Bob Condon, local news editor.