SARANAC LAKE - Paul Van Cott gave three reasons when asked why he's running for one of the two village trustee seats on the March 20 ballot.
He said he loves Saranac Lake, and he wants to make sure that it's a community his kids and other young people can come back to after college and find a good job.
Van Cott also described this as an exciting time for the village - naming the opening Saranac Lake Community Store, the near completion of the Adirondack Carousel, the new T-bar lift at Mount Pisgah Ski Center and the village landing a pair of biotech companies last year.
Paul Van Cott
"There's a lot of great things that are going on," he said. "I want to build on that momentum."
Van Cott also says he has the right combination of skills and experience for the job. An attorney for the state Adirondack Park Agency for the past 11 years, Van Cott has also worked for the state attorney general's office and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He spent five years in Maine as a regional director for that state's Department of Environmental Protection.
"I'm good at government," Van Cott said. "I've been an attorney for 25 years and a manager for 15. I'm very good at negotiations. I'm very good at building partnerships."
This begins a series about the Saranac Lake trustee race. Next week the Enterprise will report on Monday's debate and look at candidates' positions on issues.
Van Cott got an early start on the election campaign and has been going door to door throughout the community. If he's elected, Van Cott said his priorities will be "to work on providing more jobs, lower taxes and the best quality of life for village residents."
On the job front, Van Cott said he wants to help village Mayor Clyde Rabideau land more biotech and other businesses. He admits that he doesn't have any direct experience in recruiting businesses, but said he knows how to bring people together.
"I don't profess to be an expert on finance or business, but as a lawyer I have the skills to learn quickly, to analyze what needs to be done and help make the arguments that will convince a company to come here," he said.
Van Cott also said he wants to help existing village businesses find ways to grow and expand by helping them through zoning issues, offering them tax incentives and by making the village a more attractive place for their current and prospective employees to work.
To reduce taxes, Van Cott said the village board should do more long-term financial planning and create a finance committee that meets monthly to find ways to improve the efficiency of village government. To further reduce the village tax burden, Van Cott said he'd support finding more ways to share services and would support "reasonable" development proposals that will grow the village tax base.
As for improving the quality of life in the village, Van Cott said he wants to create incentives or find grants to help downtown business owners improve their buildings. He also wants to work with local investors, downtown businesses and the owner of the Hotel Saranac to come up with a plan to bring the hotel back "to what it once was before Paul Smith's College sold it."
Beyond the downtown, Van Cott wants to find ways to help people renovate their homes or make them more energy efficient. He also said he's a big backer of local recreational facilities like the Dewey Mountain and Mount Pisgah ski centers, and supports ongoing efforts to make the village more pedestrian and bike friendly.
If he and his running mate (Barbara Rice) are elected, Van Cott said the village board would include two contractors (Rabideau and Allie Pelletieri), two business people (Rice and Tom Catillaz) and an experienced lawyer.
"I think that is the right mix for the challenges and opportunities Saranac Lake has in front of it," he said.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.