SARANAC LAKE - Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau says his party has two strong candidates for the village trustee race, but he stopped short of making a direct endorsement Wednesday.
The Enterprise spoke with Rabideau, a Democrat, the day after village Republicans endorsed incumbent Trustee Jeff Branch and newcomer Mark Gillis as their party's candidates in the race for two seats on the village board. Gillis was picked over veteran Trustee John McEneany, who said Wednesday that he hasn't ruled out running as an independent.
Earlier this week, village Democrats endorsed Rice Furniture co-owner Barbara Rice and state Adirondack Park Agency associate attorney Paul Van Cott.
Rabideau attended and participated in the Democratic caucus, which could be a sign that he's backing Van Cott and Rice. But that would mean he'd be going against Branch, who Rabideau appointed as his deputy mayor, has worked well with and considers a friend.
"I'm going to be walking a very fine line because I do intend to remain a friend with Jeff during and after the election," Rabideau said Wednesday. "Notwithstanding, I do believe our Democratic slate is outstanding."
The mayor was elusive when asked directly if he'd campaign for the Democratic candidates.
"From what I've seen and heard so far, my candidates don't need a lot of pushing," he said. "The Democrats are out there working very hard. I know Paul Van Cott has already started going door to door, and Barb Rice is always formulating her strategy, and I do support these two individuals."
Rabideau also said he was very surprised that McEneany didn't win GOP support for re-election.
"John McEneany is also a very good friend of mine," Rabideau said. "He's been a very hard-working and outspoken trustee for a decade. I think he's given Saranac Lake tremendous service, and I've enjoyed working with him on the board."
Rabideau said he is acquainted with Gillis, an investment banker and securities broker originally from southeastern Massachusetts. The mayor actually called Gillis, at a friend's request, when Gillis was thinking about moving to Saranac Lake.
"A friend of mine, Mark Allen, was trying to woo Mark Gillis to Mount Pisgah (where Gillis is building a home)," Rabideau said. "He asked me to give him a call and talk to him about Saranac Lake, and I did. I also met him on Mount Arab last summer in Tupper Lake. I was going down, and he was coming up with his kids. He seems like a likable person."
The village election is March 20.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.