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Politics — love it or leave it

March 30, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

When the village Democrats won the election last week it got me to thinking about past elections. All four candidates are to be congratulated it's a tough thing to do on any level and they all certainly stayed on the high ground in the campaign.

But has "politics" always had a bad name? I don't think sobut then I didn't begin studying small town politics until about 1960.

When the Franklin County Board of Supervisors became a Board of County Legislators I ran as a Democrat for the board against Republican Bill Mansion and lostthe next day Enterprise publisher Jim Loeb was laying out page one and as I questioned his puzzled lookhe replied, "I'm trying to find a picture of you shaking hands with Bill Mansion that doesn't look like you are about to cry."

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A few years later when Republican Jim Finn had finished his term as a county legislator he came to me after a GOP meeting and said, "Howard, if you want to run for the county board in November, we won't oppose you." By then the timing wasn't right for me but I think that was pretty nice "politics". My friend the late Karl Griebsch, long-time (Republican) judge and former New York State Trooper used to say to me at every election I was in, "Howard, I can't help you, but I won't hurt you." I think that also was pretty nice "politics".


How many voted

Voter registration has changed over the years. It is so easy now to stay registeredjust keep voting and you stay registered. If a voter misses voting in two federal elections or 8 years then that voter must register again. If a resident missed voting in just one annual local election prior to 1960 then they had to register again before the next election. That information was confirmed by Jim Rogers after I could not get the answer from the county or state boards of election. I know we used to spend a lot of time going through county registration rolls and supplying registration forms to those who were not registered.

So as the population of Saranac Lake has gone down, so has the number of people voting. On March 20 this year less than 900 people turned out to vote as The Enterprise headline read, "Democrat landslide". Candidate Barbara Rice collected 542 votes and Paul Van Cott received 417.

I have a personal connection to both of these fine peopleBarbara was my son Kelby's date for the Junior Promand if one thinks Paul Van Cott's family has not been around here very longI used to go square dancing with his mother, who had a twin sisterthey were 16; me and my pal Patrick McKenty were 18.


Voter turnout 1963

Peter Cox was editor and publisher of the Enterprise which carried a page one headline then much like the one last week;

"Saranac Lake Democrats Score Clean Sweep Upset"

"The residents of Saranac Lake voted out the Republican Mayor and two Republican trustees and replaced them with a full slate of Democrats in yesterday's elections.

"This feat is generally considered one of the greatest political upsets in the history of Saranac Lake. The village is traditionally Republican.

"John Campion, a former trustee, turned out long-time mayor Alton B. Anderson by 906 to 851.

"Leading the ticket for the Democrats was Enterprise technician and reporter Howard Riley with 1011 votes. Service station owner Charles Lavery won his spot on the board with 954 votes. The defeated Republicans were Francis "Frenchie' Gladd with 781 votes and Village Republican Chairman William Wigger with 740."

The total voter turnout in 1963 was just over 1800 or double what it was this year.

Republican George Stearns and Democrat Myron "Rube" Skeels were not up for election and consequentially retained their seats. Mayor Campion named Skeels as Deputy Mayor and he retained that title after I was appointed Mayor one year later. Campion was appointed postmaster; every postmaster in the country back then was a political appointment.



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