Lake Placid mayor ready for four more years

LAKE PLACID – Craig Randall doesn’t have an opponent in this year’s race for Lake Placid village mayor, but that doesn’t mean he’s been taking it easy in this election.

Randall was elected mayor in 2009, replacing Jamie Rogers as the village’s chief executive officer. In an interview with the Enterprise on Thursday, he said he has tried to run the village like an administrator, not a politician.

“I guess I’m learning about the political part,” Randall said.

Randall said when he joined the board, the village’s finances were in disarray.

“Our financial structures, our accounting systems – I think it would be fair to say that we did not have any accounting systems,” he said. “We thought we did, but nothing was producing any responsible financial controls.”

Many of those issues came to light when the state Comptroller’s Office released a 2010 audit that revealed lax oversight of village finances, including $111,000 in unauthorized payments for unused sick time time doled out between August 2008 and October 2009.

Randall said the village took immediate action and has since hired a full-time treasurer, Peggy Mousaw, whom the mayor credited for helping him run a multi-million-dollar corporation.

Randall said he’s proud that his board has worked to reduce the village’s workforce from 90 to 80 without laying anyone off. He added that the implementation of a new health care program has saved money for taxpayers and employees.

In the coming years, Randall said he expects financial challenges to continue, especially as retirement costs increase. He said the village has done a good job at keeping its budgets within the state’s 2 percent property tax cap.

At least one person, trustee candidate Scott Monroe, has been critical of Randall for running for office as a three-person team.

“I believe the board should consist of five independent individuals with their own individual views, thoughts, concepts – and they bring those to the table and the five of them work together as a group,” Monroe told the Enterprise.

But Randall said the “teamwork slate” isn’t a rubber stamp.

“I can guarantee you that’s not the case,” he said. “We do our homework during the week, and when we come to a board meeting, my style of operating the board is – the work is done during the week. By the time something gets through committees and got to the board, the recommendations are on the table. The board asks its questions, elects the direction it wants and votes.

“I do not want to go back to where we were four years ago where everything is debated and those meetings last for God only knows how many hours.”

That doesn’t mean trustees don’t debate issues at meetings, Randall added. Plus, unlike some other municipal boards, he said he allows audience participation outside of public comment periods. That audience participation has generally been limited to questions from the press, or input from the very few locals who regularly attend meetings.

The village board often passes resolutions unanimously, and it’s rare for an issue to result in a 3-2 vote. Recently, only two issues split the board: a resolution asking the state Department of Transportation to remove the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and a request for free parking near the Adirondack Community Church.

The parking request ended up being a non-issue, since the church didn’t actually need the spaces. The railroad resolution passed 3-2, but it wasn’t the 2009 team that passed it: Trustee Zay Curtis joined trustees Jason Leon and Peter Holderied to approve it.

Randall said he believes the board should have voted to ask the DOT to review the unit management plan for the railroad corridor.

“The future of the recreational path deserved to be a public decision,” he said. “We weren’t the right forum. It became a forum on the train. I personally don’t believe that I have a right to attack a private business. I think the community wanted to weigh in.”