By Kristin Schultz
NISKAYUNA — There are a couple of new faces at Town Hall and Andrew Bigness is one of them. The Town Board recently approved his appointment as Supervisor Yasmine Syed’s confidential secretary.
Bigness graduated from Union College in 2008 and from Albany Law School in 2011. He has spent the past six years in Albany, holding various policy positions with the state Legislature.
He first met Syed in November, after the election. He said he was impressed with what she said during the campaign and offered to help if she wanted to talk about policy. They met and Syed asked if Bigness would come on board.
“I want to help the community where I live,” he said.
Bigness, his wife, child and rescue-hound live in Old Niskayuna. Don’t be surprised if, in nicer weather, you see him walking to work.
That work will be similar to what residents have come to expect under previous assistants to the supervisor. Bigness will serve as a point of contact for residents. With a background in public policy, he hopes to be a resource to residents, helping them navigate governmental bodies and boards to make sure their needs are addressed.
Additionally, he will perform communications duties, work with department heads, deputy supervisor Stan Fiminski and Syed.
“I think of it as a jack-of-all-trades chief of staff role,” Bigness said.
He said he hit the ground running, fielding 32 voice-mails on one of his first days on the job. Bigness is also getting up to speed on the finer points of town government, as he and Syed attended two-and-a-half days of training put on by the state’s Association of Towns.
Being new at a job can be a bit daunting, but Bigness said that all the Town Hall employees have been more than gracious and welcoming of the new administration, including him.
“Everybody in every department has been incredibly welcoming and helpful,” Bigness said.
He has also engaged with residents, attempting to help and address their concerns. Sometimes Bigness will be able to facilitate a quick fix, but other times issues will be out of his and the town’s control. In either situation, he aims to make people feel heard and valued.
“I want people to get a good response and know there will be follow-up,” Bigness said. “We’re working for them. Even when we can’t solve the problem, we’re here to help them take the next step.”
He said he’s also looking forward to working with board members and, as Syed is a Republican supervisor with an otherwise all-Democratic board, having open and frank discussions.
“It’s a great opportunity to have a different type of discussion, an open and free-flowing discussion,” he said. “The supervisor and I are not bomb throwers. We’re calm and don’t get personal. It’s a small town and we want to have collegial and civil discussions.”
Bigness works on the second floor of Town Hall, just outside the supervisor’s office.
His hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He may be reached by phone at 518-386-4516.