TOWN OF JOHNSTOWN — Town Board member Christina VanValkenburgh was named deputy supervisor on Monday during the board’s organizational meeting.
Supervisor Jack Wilson appointed VanValkenburgh to the position. The board also passed a resolution 3-1 in support of Wilson’s choice; Tim Rizzo, the longest tenured member of the board, was the sole vote against the resolution.
Jack Wilson said he believes VanValkenburgh’s background — a small business owner and a retired sheriff’s deputy with experience negotiating public employee union contracts — makes her a great choice to serve as his deputy supervisor.
“She’s a wonderful choice for it,” Jack Wilson said. “She owns a small business (Harvey’s Pet supply store). She used to do the union negotiations for the deputies. She’s got a [good] background.”
VanValkenburgh was appointed to the Town Board in September after former Town Board member Kim Goodemote resigned with two years remaining on her four-year term of office. VanValkenburgh said her appointment to the board seat effectively lasts until the end of 2022, as she is required to run in a special election in November of this year to fill out the fourth and final year of Goodemote’s term in 2023.
VanValkenburgh said she has already decided that if she wins the special election in November she will run again for a full four-year term on the board in 2023. She explained why she likes serving on the Town Board.
“I naturally have this thing of wanting to help lead,” she said. “That comes from my experience at my business and my past experience of being a police officer.”
During the last Town Board meeting of 2021, on Dec. 21, VanValkenburgh fought for the passage of a resolution to authorize Wilson to sign a contract with PrimePay Solutions to provide “facial recognition” time clock equipment and software for Town Hall and Town Highway Department employees. VanValkenburgh insisted that the resolution be voted on during the Dec. 21 meeting rather than waiting until 2022, and ultimately the Town Board voted unanimously in favor of supporting the resolution.
“I feel that in this day and age, people need to be held accountable, and [facial recognition time clocks are) one way of keeping them accountable,” VanValkenburgh said.
After announcing VanValkenburgh as his pick for deputy supervisor, Wilson unveiled a new system of him appointing members of the Town Board to serve as liaisons to different departments. He appointed newly-elected board member Joel Wilson as liaison to the town Highway Department and newly-elected board member Paul Catucci to work as the liaison to Town Clerk Nancy Hart, particularly in her capacity as the town animal control officer.
“Joel will be the liaison between the Town Board and the Town Highway Department. He will work with [Town Highway Superintendent] Jack [Smullen], and when it comes time for our monthly meetings Joel will be making the report,” Wilson said.
“Why can’t Jack make the report?” Rizzo interjected.
Jack Wilson didn’t respond to Rizzo’s question, but said he also had a project he would “love for him to work upon.”
“You had in the paper that you’re a hard worker, and we have a pretty new Town Board here, and I’m hoping that we can start out on a new foot and gain respect for one another,” Jack Wilson said. “[I want] on a go-forward basis to work with the taxpayers of the town so we can quit being on the front page of the paper for negative stuff all the time, and maybe be on the front page for something good.”
Rizzo said it was clear Jack Wilson was doling out important leadership roles to other members of the board while continuing to criticize him for being outspoken and willing to debate issues in public. Rizzo said he feels he was overlooked for the role of deputy supervisor because of the friction he’s had with Jack Wilson in the past over certain issues. Rizzo said he worked closely with VanValkenburgh on the facial recognition time clocks, and helped bring other important issues to the board, such as highlighting the town’s responsibility to maintain its rural abandoned cemeteries.
Rizzo explained why he voted against the resolution supporting VanValkenburgh as deputy supervisor.
“It’s nothing against Christina, just, it’s deliberate,” he said of how he feels Jack Wilson has not supported him for leadership roles on the Town Board. “I feel, highly, I’ve earned the position, even though Jack is right now trying to put me on the backburner.”
Rizzo said he already wanted to be involved more with renovation of Town Hall, so he may accept Jack Wilson’s offer, but not if he is required to do the engineering work for the project himself. He said he would prefer to be the Town Board’s liaison to working with an engineering firm the town hires for the renovation project.
One thought on “VanValkenburgh appointed deputy supervisor in town of Johnstown”
Can a town board member actually do engineering work for the town? Seems like that would be a conflict, and a long sitting supervisor should know that.