By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — A long time Clifton Park resident will challenge incumbent town supervisor Phil Barrett in a primary this fall.
Dale Kelley, who has lived in the town for almost 40 years, will be attempting to override the Clifton Park Republican Committee’s selection of Barrett, who they endorsed unanimously in March, along with a slew of other town and county GOP incumbents.
A New Hampshire native, Kelley has many years of public service under his belt. He was elected to the Clifton Park town board in 1989, and served as deputy supervisor from 1992 to 1995. He served on the planning board from 1995 to 1999, and the zoning board from 1999 to 2005, In 1995, he took a break from town politics to serve under Gov. George Pataki as deputy commission for the Office of General Services for 10 years,
Kelley acknowledged that he is facing an uphill battle against a supervisor who has won all nine of his campaigns. But, Kelley says Clifton Park has slid into “complacency,” and he decided it was time to throw his name into the ring.
“I don’t mind being an underdog,” Kelley said.
In Kelley’s opinion, the town has been functioning in a “penny-pinching” state for years, and criticized the current government for being “reactionary,” opting to deal with issues as they come up as opposed to crafting a town plan. He identifies as fiscally conservative, and said that the town should be spending money on more infrastructure projects, such as the sewer system.
“What do we want this town to look like in five, 10, 20 years?” Kelley said. “We’re not looking into the future. Conservatives spend money, but they spend money wisely.”
Barrett, in an email, argued against the characterization of the town as reactionary.
“During my time as supervisor, we have completed many long range, comprehensive public planning studies, including the Open Space Plan, Town Center Plan, Western CP Environment Plan, and Recreational Master Plan. Each study provides a road map for the town for decades into the future in various important areas of significance. The town’s infrastructure systems are constantly reviewed as we establish long term and short-term priorities each year. Proactive planning coupled with our track record of successfully attaining grant funding has allowed us to complete meaningful investments at a reduced cost to the town and the people we serve.”
If elected, Kelley said that he would work in developing a spending plan, and a way to make use of the town’s budget surplus. He also expressed interested in doing collaborative work, citing feedback from residents as “critically important,” and imposing term limits on himself. Kelley said that being an elected official should not become a career.
“As a public servant, you go, you do your job, and then you go home,” he said. “Eighteen years…that’s enough.”
Kelley is not a stranger to working within the establishment. He is a former member of the Clifton Park Republican Committee, and was also president of the Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce in 1988. But, Kelley said, it’s time that the establishment, which he said has become “comfortable,” be shaken up. He said that he is looking forward to fighting for votes, and is excited to give Republican voters a choice in who they elect for the first time in almost two decades.
“I want to rock the boat,” he said. “It’s going to take hard work.”