Douglas seeks fourth term as Essex County chairman

Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas will likely win a fourth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors next week.

The board holds its 2013 organizational meeting at 10 a.m. Monday at the old county courthouse in Elizabethtown. During that meeting, the board will vote to select its chair and vice chair for 2013. Douglas, in an email sent to supervisors and members of the press last week, said he and Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee will seek the leadership positions.

“I believe my experiences and my close contacts in both Washington and Albany including my personal friendship with Governor (Andrew) Cuomo will continue to be an asset to all of Essex County,” Douglas wrote.

Douglas, a Democrat, became chairman of the heavily Republican board in 2010. Since then, he’s earned the respect of his peers, including Moriah’s outspoken Republican supervisor Tom Scozzafava, who said in an email that he will again support Douglas’ bid for the chairmanship. Other Republican supervisors, including Deb Malaney of Ticonderoga, have also said they will vote for Douglas on Monday.

No other supervisors have publicly announced interest in seeking the post.

It was somewhat unprecedented for Douglas to win a third term as chairman last year. Traditionally, supervisors have been elected to a one-year term and received a “rubber stamp” vote for the second year, Douglas told the Enterprise.

Essex County is facing some big issues this year, including the pending sale of the Horace Nye Nursing Home and building a budget for 2014 that will have to deal with rising costs and unfunded mandates. Douglas said he’s ready to lead the board as it prepares to dive into those tasks.

“We put a lot of effort into every decision we make, and every decision you make, you upset somebody,” he said. “Most issues are controversial at this stage of the game because of the situation our state and town and county and country is in when it comes to financial distress.”

Douglas and Ferebee are close friends who worked together daily in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene as their communities recovered from the devastating floods. Douglas said he thinks Ferebee would be an effective vice chairman.

North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi has served as Douglas’ vice chairman since 2010. Politi said it was his decision not to seek another term in the position.

“I think it’s time for somebody else,” he said. “My decision is really probably of a personal nature. It has to do with me; it doesn’t have to do with anyone else. … It was the time for somebody else to try it. I’ve been doing it a long time.”