David Rowley at a board meeting as a spectator on Thursday, Jan. 4. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
COLONIE — For the first time in six years, when the Town Board reorganized on Jan. 4, David Rowley didn’t have to raise his right hand and take an oath.
The only enrolled Independence Party member on the six-member panel – seven when you include the supervisor – called it quits this year after running twice, once to fill a vacancy and once for a full four-year term.
“I really enjoyed the governing aspects of the town and dealing with the various board members,” he said. “I can honestly say I will miss every single one of them. I had a good working relationship with all of them and I will miss sharing ideas about the town and governance.”
He said he is most proud of voting for six consecutive budgets that were under the tax cap, and the fact the town now has a surplus of some $4 million when it had a $23 million deficit about a decade ago.
Being on the Town Board is the ground floor of local politics, and the issues a Town Board debates and addresses – street paving, snow plowing, development garbage pickup and especially taxes – directly impact the everyday lives of the residents.
“Everyone wanted to provide the best possible services for the least possible costs,” he said. “I can say all members of the Town Board were looking for that common goal.”
He opted to enroll in the Independence Party because, at least at the national level, the two major parties were too political and partisanship too often took precedent over solving problems.
At the local level, during his tenure, he said partisanship did take a back seat to governing, even though the Town Board was evenly split – with three Democrats and three Republicans and him being the odd man out.
“We do have differences but we talk them through at the agenda meetings,” he said of the meetings held prior to a Town Board meeting proper. “We have frank and open discussions and if someone has something they feel strongly about we try to accommodate them and we adjust accordingly.”
While the Town Board meeting proper does appear like one big happy rubber stamp to whatever Supervisor Paula Mahan wants, he said it’s only that way because all the hard work and negotiations are done beforehand.
“David Rowley brought many strengths to the position and was a great asset to the board and to me as my deputy supervisor,” Mahan said. “His priority was always to serve the people of Colonie to the best of his ability. He was also a true professional who treated everyone with courtesy and respect.”
It’s not easy walking away, he said, but he wasn’t looking forward to running an election in a town the size of Colonie, both in terms of population and geographic area.
“I’m a big believer in term limits and it’s good to have new faces and new blood come in,” he said. “Ultimately Melissa (Jeffers VonDollen) is the one taking my spot and she will bring a different perspective and I think she will do great.”