By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
In her third run for the Ward 4 seat on the Queensbury Town Board, Democrat Jennifer Switzer finally broke through.
Mrs. Switzer, 50, on Nov. 7 soundly defeated appointed incumbent Tim Brewer, 707-487, not counting absentee ballots.
She will be part of a 3-person Democratic majority on the five-person board, joining incumbent Supervisor John Strough and newcomer Catherine Atherden.
“I’m pretty persistent. I just wanted to stay involved,” Mrs. Switzer said of her three-time run for the council seat. The Chronicle approached her for a post-election interview.
‘I learned something each election’
She said, “I learned something each time I ran. The first time, in 2013, I had no plan for absentee voters. When election night was over, I was ahead by 13 votes, but after the absentee ballots were counted, I lost by four votes.
“So I had a special message targeted to those voters this time, and either sent them a letter or called them.
“The second time I ran, in 2015, I got away from my basic message. I talked about my municipal accounting experience and finance, and being a woman and bringing a different perspective.
“This time, my message was more refined and focused. I ran on my professional background and my intentions to create a multi-year financial plan for the town.”
Since 2006, Mrs. Switzer has been Director of Finance for EDC Warren County, and she notes that she also just finished serving on the town’s cemetery and recreation commissions.
From 2002 to 2006, she was Queensbury’s budget officer when Dan Stec was supervisor.
Glens Falls native, Siena graduate
Mrs. Switzer is a Glens Falls native who graduated in 1985 from Glens Falls High School and from Siena College in 1989 with a degree in business administration and accounting.
She was no stranger to politics. “Our backyard abutted [former Mayor] Frank O’Keefe’s backyard, so I always knew about Glens Falls politics,” she says. “My father, Joe Sullivan, was a City Committeeman.”
She notes, “In high school and college, I was always a part of the government process. I was class president at Glens Falls High School for three years, and was involved in the government body at Siena.”
That’s where she also met her husband Damian, then an aspiring physics teacher from Glenmont and now principal of Queensbury High School.
“We moved to Plattsburgh and Damian was a physics teacher in Beekmantown, and I was assistant controller for the Plattsburgh Press-Republican,” Mrs. Switzer said.
Eventually they moved to Queensbury, where they raised their two sons.
Kilian, who turns 24 on Nov. 27, is an Army ROTC graduate of Loyola (Md.) and now a 2nd Lieutenant in the New Jersey National Guard. “His unit got deployed to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, and he’s been there for six weeks,” Mrs. Switzer said. “He comes home this week.”
Aidan, 21, is a senior Aerospace Engineering major at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. “and finds out soon whether he will fly for the Marines or the Navy or be on a submarine.”
Priority: Multi-year financial plan
“I’d like to start a multi-year financial planning process,” she said, “and I’m starting with the department heads,” many she knows from her time as town budget officer.
“The Town of Queensbury really has amazingly talented employees,” says Mrs. Switzer. “They are doing a great job with the resources that they have. I just want to let them know that I’m not a micro-manager, but I want to know enough to make an educated decision and I will hold them accountable.
“I’m asking them what projects they have going on, and what their priorities are, and telling them that we’re going to work with the state comptroller’s office, which has guidelines and programs to help municipalities adopt multi-year financial plans.”
She said such plans are required for municipalities deemed by the comptroller’s office as being “stressed,” something Queensbury is not. “But I still think it’s a great idea, especially because we are fiscally sound right now,” she said. “I don’t want to wait for another financial crisis like we had in 2008 and 2009.”
Thoughts as to Qby. town supervisor
Given Mrs. Switzer’s professional and financial background, might she consider running for Queensbury Town Supervisor in the future?
“I would consider it under the right circumstances,” she said. “I have thought about it.…I really did enjoy working at the Town. Even back then [2002 to 2006], it was something I thought about.”
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