MOVE DOWNSIZES COUNTY LEGISLATURE PRIMARY

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D3

Date: Friday, September 2, 2011

The scorecard in Albany's most-watched primary this fall just got a little less messy.


Janis Gonzalez, one of three Democrats vying for the County Legislature seat in the new 6th Legislative District, told Insider this week she is dropping out of the race because she has moved out of the district and would be ineligible to serve.


Gonzalez said she and her husband, Carlos, decided to downsize their home after one daughter left for college and have moved closer to the South End and their jobs.


Her somewhat last-minute departure from the race comes less than two weeks after a federal judge declined to halt the Sept. 13 primaries countywide over a voting rights lawsuit challenging the county's new legislative district lines -- a lawsuit in which Gonzalez is a plaintiff.


But Gonzalez said the two are unrelated and that, despite her move, she plans to stay involved in the suit, which advocates for the drawing of an additional -- fifth -- majority minority district in the county.


"Just because I'm not a candidate anymore doesn't mean I'm not still going forward full force with that," she said.


In a race that pitted her against controversial incumbent Brian Scavo and party-backed challenger Noelle Kinsch, Gonzalez billed herself as an alternative more in tune with the needs of the minority community in an increasingly diverse district.


Kinsch appears to have been crushing both other candidates in fundraising. We say "appears" because Scavo's campaign account has been inactive since 2008, according to the Board of Elections, and Gonzalez filed an "in lieu of statement" in July.


Kinsch's supporters -- or those eager to see Scavo ousted -- will welcome this development, as fears of a split opposition have dogged this race since the beginning, when would-be candidate Maureen O'Brien stepped aside in hopes of helping Kinsch defeat Scavo.


Asked whether she is endorsing either of the remaining candidates on the ballot, Gonzalez said she does have a preference between the two candidates on the ballot but hasn't yet had a chance to discuss her support in detail with that person yet.


Whether or not Gonzalez will appear on the ballot remains unresolved. Republican Albany County Elections Commissioner Rachel Bledi said Thursday that the board has yet to receive any documentation from Gonzalez that she is not eligible to appear on the ballot. Gonzalez has until noon Tuesday to provide it, Bledi said.


Perennial candidate Jose Lopez has also said he's running as a write-in candidate in the district.


Waiting for fracking vote


There'll be no fracking vote until October.


Albany Councilman Dominick Calsolaro, the chief sponsor of two ordinances that would ban hydrofracking in the city and ban its byproducts from the Rapp Road landfill, tells Insider he won't ask for a vote on the measures for at least month.


The reason, Calsolaro said, is that one of his co-sponsors, Councilman Anton Konev, wants to be present for the vote, and Konev will be out of town for Thursday's council meeting.


The council's general services committee discharged both ordinances last week without any comment following a sometimes contentious three-hour hearing, after which the three present voting members could not reach any other consensus on what to do with the legislation.


Backers say the laws -- similar to those passed or under consideration in other communities -- will help Albany protect residents from what they say are the harmful effects of the controversial gas-drilling technique.


But industry representatives call both measures essentially pointless, saying no one would want to drill in Albany anyway and noting that the city already has the power to reject any waste it doesn't want from its landfill.


Meanwhile Thursday, Albany County Legislator Chris Higgins, of Albany, said he plans to introduce a countywide ban on hydrofracking later this month.


Guard calls McCoy


Lastly, Albany County executive-in-waiting Dan McCoy (let's face it, ain't nobody else running) saw his campaign rhythm disrupted by Hurricane Irene.


McCoy, who is in his 23rd year in the New York Army National Guard, was mobilized Saturday to head downstate in preparation for the storm's landfall in the New York City area.


McCoy, a Sgt. 1st Class assigned to the Latham-based Joint Force Headquarters unit, through which he helps oversee the safety of military personnel in the field, first headed to Farmingdale in Nassau County with stops on the way back near West Point and in flood ravaged Greene County.


McCoy said that once the storm largely spared the New York City area a good deal of the soldiers who had been deployed, many of them upstaters, were eager to get home to see how their hometowns fared.


"I've got to tell you, it was a sad sight. They got hit hard. Especially up around Windham," said McCoy, an Albany Democrat.


"Obviously, everybody wanted to get home and take care of their own."


Inside Politics is a companion to the Local Politics blog -- http://blogs.timesunion.com/localpolitics -- and compiled by Jordan Carleo-Evangelist. Reach the Insider at jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com, 454-5445 or on Twitter @JCEvangelist_TU