Town officials describe introduction to public service

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER

Clifton Park Town Council member, James Whalen, is sworn into office as his family happily stands alongside on Jan. 4, 2016.CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER Clifton Park Town Council member, James Whalen, is sworn into office as his family happily stands alongside on Jan. 4, 2016.

BY CADY KUZMICH
GAZETTE REPORTER

 

CLIFTON PARK — Family and friends gathered in the Clifton Park town hall in the evening on Jan 4. to watch their loved ones be sworn in for the upcoming year of public service.

Clifton Park Town Councilwoman Amy Standaert, Town Council member James Whalen and Town Clerk Pat O’Donnell shared their thoughts on the past year, hopes for the future and described their introduction to public service years ago.

 

Amy Standaert – Clifton Park Town Councilwoman


CK:  Could you tell me when and how you first got involved with public service?
AS: My mom & dad, Jan & Jean Holick, were actively involved in our community throughout my entire childhood and gave me a strong foundation on the importance of serving our neighbors, so my decision to enter into public service was really a natural step. I was appointed to the Clifton Park Town Board in June of 2013 to fulfill Councilman Scott Hughes’ vacancy and was subsequently elected in November to fulfill the remainder of his term. I had served on the Town Board for 2.5 years before successfully winning this current 4 year term.

CK:  Are you originally from Clifton Park?
AS: I have been a Clifton Park resident for 42 years! In 1974, when I was 2 years old, my parents moved us to Clifton Park. I grew up playing Miss Shen Softball, and attended Shenendehowa from Kindergarten until my graduation in 1990.

CK: Where’d you go to college?
AS: I attended the College of Saint Rose where I earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education. I then earned my M.S. degree in Educational Psychology & Statistics from SUNY Albany.

CK: What, from the past year, are you most proud of? What do you most look forward to in the upcoming year?
AS: This February will mark 1 year since the Town of Clifton Park Youth Court commenced hearings for youthful, first-time offenders. Ensuring that this program runs efficiently, effectively and with integrity and dignity is what I am most proud of achieving. In addition to giving kids a second chance, the teacher in me loves working with Shen students and mentoring them through this program. It is extremely rewarding work on so many levels and I look forward to and remain committed to Youth Court’s continued success.

CK: Could you tell me about your family?
AS: I have dedicated myself to serving Clifton Park residents and I do so with incredible support from my husband of 14.5 years, Theo. We have 3 children; Emily, age 13, Sam, age 12 and Billy, age 9 and feel very fortunate to be able to raise them in such a a safe, active and vibrant community. Theo and I love the opportunities Clifton Park affords our children. Whether it is Emily playing volleyball, Sam and Billy playing football and lacrosse or us as a family riding our bikes on the Town’s many trails, we are confident that we made the right choice to live in Clifton Park.

CK: If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
AS: Public service requires a lot of time, day or night, away from family. While I have learned to balance my responsibilities to ensure plenty of family time, I have had to sacrifice the one thing that I used to enjoy the most – reading! If I had 1 extra hour in the day I would spend it with a good book.

 

CADY KUZMICH Clifton Park Town Councilwoman, Amy Standaert, is sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2016.

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER
Clifton Park Town Councilwoman, Amy Standaert, is sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2016.

 

James Whalen – Town Council member

CK: Could you tell me when and how you first got involved with public service?
JW:  I have always been drawn to public service.  While I was a student in college, I joined Army ROTC and was commissioned into the Army Reserve. I served for over 10 years as an Army Reservist in the JAG Corps.  I was drawn to serve on the Town Board because I love Clifton Park and want to help ensure that it remains a great place to raise a family. Clifton park town residents have a tradition of service to their community, and I am proud to continue in this tradition.I have served on the Town Board since January 1, 2012.  Prior to serving on the Town Board, I served the town as a volunteer member of the Environmental Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

 

CK: Are you originally from Clifton Park?
JW: I was born and raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and my wife and I have been proud to call Clifton Park home since 2004.

 

CK: Where’d you go to college and what did you study?

JW:  I graduated from the University at Albany where I majored in History and most importantly, met my wife Karen.  I graduated from Albany Law School and currently work as a practicing attorney.

 

CK: What, from the past year, are you most proud of?
JW: Looking back on 2015, I am most proud of the Town Board’s adoption of Town Center zoning.  This is a forward-thinking zoning initiative that attempts to guide mixed use residential and commercial development in the Route 146 commercial area.  The initiative took many years and was very well received by town residents.  I expect that Town Center zoning will have a positive impact on the town for years.

 

CK: What are you most looking forward to for the upcoming year?
JW:  Looking ahead to 2016, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to continue to improve the town’s infrastructure.  This includes designing the Town’s website as well as traditional infrastructure projects such as traffic improvements. In addition, I look forward to the many wonderful recreational opportunities that our Town has to offer, such as Winterfest, the 4th of July celebration, and Farm Fest.

 

CK: Could you tell me about your family? How many kids, any pets, etc.
JW: I reside in Rexford with my wife Karen and our children Katie (18 months) and Jack (six weeks), and our two cats.

CK: If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?

JW:  If I had an extra hour in the day, I would spend it with my wife and children. Time seems to rush by as a parent, and I would love another hour a day to enjoy more time with my family.

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER Katie Whalen, 18 months old, claps at the swearing-in ceremony held at the Clifton Park Town Hall on Jan. 4, 2016. Her father, James Whalen, was sworn in as Clifton Park Town Council member.

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER
Katie Whalen, 18 months old, claps at the swearing-in ceremony held at the Clifton Park Town Hall on Jan. 4, 2016. Her father, James Whalen, was sworn in as Clifton Park Town Council member.

 

 

Pat O’Donnell – Town Clerk

 

CK: Could you tell me when and how you first got involved with public service?
PO: I became secretary to the Parks and Recreation Commission and what was then known as the Fire Advisory Board (now Emergency Services Advisory Board) in 1980. I was appointed Deputy Town Clerk in September 1989 and became Town Clerk in January 1992.

CK: Are you originally from Clifton Park?
PO:      I grew up in Mt. Vernon, NY and moved to Clifton Park in 1968.

CK: Where’d you go to college and what did you study?
PO:   I went to high school in White Plains, NY and then The Berkeley Secretarial School.

CK: What, from the past year, are you most proud of?
PO:    I can’t pick one thing that I’m proud of during the past year.  I am proud of the Town Clerk’s office and my two deputies Teresa Brobston and Jodie Ensel and how we serve the public and how the office is run.  I’ m very proud of my family and their accomplishments.   I’m also happy to be involved with the Clifton Park Community Chorus and on the board of the Not So Common Players theater group.

CK:What are you most looking forward to for the upcoming year?
PO: I’m looking forward to another wonderful year with family and friends.

CK: Could you tell me about your family? How many kids, any pets, etc.
PO:   I have six sons and six grandchildren – four beautiful girls and two handsome boys.

 

CK: If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?

PO: I would spend it with family and friends.

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER  Clifton Park Town Clerk, Pat O'Donnell, is sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2016.

CADY KUZMICH/GAZETTE REPORTER
Clifton Park Town Clerk, Pat O’Donnell, is sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2016.