LAKE PLACID - Two incumbents are running for re-election to the village Board of Trustees, and they have two challengers.
Incumbents Jason Leon and David Jones are running for another term - the first full term for Leon. Former Trustee Paul Strack is running again, and political newcomer Peter Holderied is also running for a seat.
All four are running as independents, and Holderied is also running as a Republican.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)
The election is March 15. There is also one village justice seat on the ballot; incumbent Margaret Doran is running unopposed as an independent for another term. The trustee and justice seats are all for four-year terms.
Candidates are presented in alphabetical order by last name.
Holderied said he has been thinking about running for office for years, but didn't have time before. He said he thinks the village needs to make better use of the taxpayers' money.
"I'm a fiscal conservative," Holderied said. "Government can't solve problems. It can only make them worse."
Holderied said the village has spent too much time and money studying a number of issues - parking garages, creating a park at Power Pond and removing the dam there - without taking any action.
"It's all throwing money away when they could actually be building something with that money," Holderied said. "It's crazy."
Another example of a similar study Holderied said he thought was wasteful, although not one done by the village, was the recent study on the railroad corridor by AdkAction. The study found that both replacing the railroad with a recreational trail and upgrading and extending the railroad to Tupper Lake would be economically beneficial. It said the recreational trail would be more expensive to build, but would also bring in more economic benefits.
"It was completely throwing money out the window that could've been used for doing either one or the other," Holderied, who favors tearing up the tracks, said of the study.
Holderied said he thinks the village police department is too large and expensive for the size of the village, and should be cut back. On the "Peter Holderied for Trustee" Facebook page, he also says he thinks the village and the town of North Elba should continue consolidating, and eventually combine into one.
Holderied grew up in Lake Placid, and his family owns the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. He was on the St. Agnes school board for eight years, and on the board of the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau for six.
Jones has been on the board since 1989. He said, if re-elected, his next term will be his last. He said he is running again because "I love Lake Placid and I love the job."
Jones said he is proud of numerous things he has worked on in his time on the board, including the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, the new Mid's Park, the re-engineering of Mill Pond and Mirror Lake drives, and the new parking meters downtown.
"I know that's a controversial issue, but those parking meters are working very well," Jones said.
Jones said his priorities, if re-elected, would include the trunk sewer line at Power Pond and addressing an audit report from the state comptroller's office that blasted the village's financial practices, particularly unauthorized payments of $111,058 to village department heads and employees. The audit singled out village Clerk Kathryn "Kook" McKillip, saying she took $38,003 in leave time payments, $22,774 of which she hadn't accrued.
"We've been working very dilligently on correcting the 23 specific items in that report," Jones said.
Jones said they had almost all been addressed, and he doesn't "think any of them will be left unaddressed."
The village unveiled a plan earlier this month to turn the Power Pond area into a park along the Chubb River. The village drained the pond last year to replace a trunk sewer line. Village officials have said removing the pond's dam would allow them to redirect the sewer line, which could reduce the project's cost by as much as $750,000, as well as saving the half-million the village would need to spend to refurbish the dam.
"It's not a definite yet, but if the permits can be obtained, that's probably going to be the way we're going to go," Jones said.
Jones also said parking is "still an ongoing issue" the board is working on.
"We're still working on the feasibility of maybe building a parking structure or getting more surface parking," Jones said.
Jones said he realizes people are sick of incumbents, but that he works well with Mayor Craig Randall and the rest of the board.
"I don't usually pat myself on the back, but I've been a good trustee for 22 years," Jones said. "I've devoted a lot of time, and I think I deserve one more term."
Jones is a freelance videographer, and also works construction part-time. He has been a member of the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service for over 20 years.
Leon first ran in March 2009 but lost. He was then appointed to the board in May 2009, after Trustee Peter Roy resigned, and was elected to finish that term a year ago.
Leon said he feels he has learned the job and accomplished a lot over the past two years. One thing he mentioned was working with the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, respectively, to get grant funding to install playground equipment at Teddy Bear Park and to install fencing and equipment at Rotary Park.
Leon was also part of an affordable housing study, and was involved in getting the village, the town and other local municipalities and groups on board with the "Google the Adirondacks" initiative, a regional application to Google to expand broadband Internet in the area. He also said he worked with Highway Superintendent Brad Hathaway to get grant funding to build a sidewalk on Station Street which, he said, makes it safer for children to walk to school.
"So, in two years I was able to do that, and I feel like I haven't done enough," Leon said. "I can see how much can be done when the community supports certain initiatives, and I want to bring a more community focus back. ... I feel like I've added a community focus."
Leon said he feels business interests are important but are already well represented on the board, given the business backgrounds of the mayor and several of the trustees, and that his goal has been to "focus on the community aspect."
If re-elected, Leon said his "most paramount" issue would be to make sure more "corrective action" is taken in response to the audit. He said a lot has been done but more needs to be.
"The clerk situation needs to be addressed," Leon said. "The community deserves answers, and I believe the mayor will do what needs to be done. It's taken some time, but I believe the time to make a decision is now."
Leon said his second focus would be to get the village's website running. Ultimately, he said, he would like people to be able to pay their electric, water and sewer bills online.
Leon is a teacher's aide at Lake Placid Elementary School, currently working on his master's degree, which he hopes to have by August. After that, he said, he would like to be a teacher at the elementary school. He is vice president of the Connecting Youth and Communities coalition and a trustee on the Adirondack Community Church board.
Strack, who is a caretaker at a camp on Lake Placid, was on the board from 2005 to 2009. He said he is running again because "I care about our community. I want to be able to continue to bring my kids up in Lake Placid and stay here."
Strack said one of his priorities will be to keep property taxes down to make sure people can continue to live in Lake Placid. He said high housing prices are making that difficult.
"The affordable housing in this community is really gone," Strack said.
Strack attributed this to the large number of wealthy people who have moved to the area, driving up prices, as well as that there are few building lots left.
Strack said infrastructure is the village's most important responsibility, and that Lake Placid is in good shape now due to recent improvements. He said the village needs to find ways to keep the debt payments affordable. He also said the police and fire departments are some of the most important things the village runs, and are doing well.
"What you actually get for the tax you pay in the village of Lake Placid, in my opinion, is a deal," Strack said.
Strack also said keeping the village's 88 employees happy is important.
"If your workforce isn't happy, you're not going to get the most out of them," Strack said. "They do an excellent job, and they deserve a pat on the back once in a while."
Strack said that when he was on the board before, budget numbers were often difficult to get. He said the audit, to him, is positive in that it gives the village the opportunity for a fresh start.
"It's a great time to be able to get back with a new state of fiscal cleansingness," Strack said.
Strack also said the village and town should continue to look at ways to consolidate. He was open to the possibility of dissolving the village.
"I would support anything that helps control the tax base of this community," Strack said.
Strack said he thinks community members and leaders, not just elected officials, should be involved with that.
Strack said he will make himself available to the public and he believes his energy will be an asset, as well as what he learned in his previous term.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.