Travis Whitehead says he was asleep for the first 10 years he lived in Queensbury, like many other residents.
He isn’t anymore.
Since deciding to become more involved in the community nine years ago, he has made a difference as a watchdog of local government by using his engineering background to do extensive research into complicated county deals, such as the Siemen’s co-generation plant.
His review of an economic development body led to charges against David Decker that the funds may have been mishandled. Decker will go to trial in February.
Along the way, Whitehead has used the Freedom of Information Law effectively and even filed lawsuits when his requests for information have been denied.
He has been an asset to the community, although those in government might not always see it that way.
Whitehead now believes he can make an ever bigger impact from the inside and has decided to run for the Ward 4 Town Board seat currently held by Jennifer Switzer.
Our biggest reservation about Whitehead is he would replace Switzer, whose background as the town’s budget officer and director of finance for Warren County Development Corp. gave her unique qualifications for the job.
Both are excellent candidates and Ward 4 voters cannot make a bad decision here.
Switzer was elected two years ago on her third try. We liked her persistence then and like the job she has done so far.
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One of the ideas that we especially like was her plan to assemble a capital projects list that would allow the town to prepare its finances years in advance.
She admitted that has been slow-going, with other issues getting in the way over the course of her two years in office. She says the project is about 60 percent complete.
“I’d like to see it as a working document that constantly evolves,” Switzer says.
Whitehead focused primarily on Queensbury’s finances and believes the town has been over-budgeting for many years. In recent years, it has taken its budget surpluses and moved them into a capital reserve fund.
Whitehead does not believe the town should eliminate the town tax, as it did when Dan Stec was supervisor, but he does believe the tax can be cut by as much as 35 percent. He believes the town should handle any capital project by borrowing the money, especially with interest rates still low.
Whitehead makes a good case and it is an argument this editorial board has made before about other communities.
We do wonder if Whitehead will be a good fit for the constituent services that come with the job as a Town Board member, but there have also been complaints that Switzer could be better in this area.
The current Town Board, compared to two years ago after a dirty tricks scandal during the election, is productive and working well together. We hope that continues. We believe Whitehead will offer a strong voice that will give the Town Board a slightly different perspective, but one that might be important.
It does not escape us that Whitehead and Supervisor John Strough are not fans of each other, but that should not be a factor in anyone’s vote.
Whitehead has been effective as an outsider, and we believe he should be given the chance to show what he can do from the inside.