Double duty again for Paul Maroun?
TUPPER LAKE – Paul Maroun plans to run for both mayor and Franklin County legislator in this November’s elections.
He took over the mayor’s seat in December 2011, after former Mayor Mickey Desmarais bowed out of a race against him, and Maroun has been a county legislator on and off since the 1970s.
This year, both his three-year term on the county board and his two-year term as mayor expire. He’s decided to run again for both.
“I want to do it; I enjoy it; I work hard at it,” Maroun told the Enterprise in a phone interview. “I think that I’ve earned the opportunity to serve everybody again.”
So far, no one has announced plans to challnge him for either of those jobs.
Maroun noted that he works as legal counsel to state Sen. Betty Little and that the state, county and local levels of government are “inextricably intertwined.”
Maroun said he believes he’s been able to divide his time appropriately between his various jobs.
He noted that Billy Jones ran for county legislator when he was the mayor of Chateaugay and sat in both seats for some time, and that Saranac Lake village Trustee Barbara Rice is running to replace Tim Burpoe on the county Board of Legislators this fall.
Maroun said he’s sure there are people who are mad at him over one issue or another, but he always tries to be clear about where he stands and as honest and open as possible with his constituents and the press.
“I think that, from the mayor’s perspective, we’re moving things ahead in the village,” Maroun said. “Things were sort of at a standstill.”
When he ran for mayor two years ago, he said his priorities were the Adirondack Club and Resort, new spaces for the fire and police departments and improving the Municipal Park.
With the ACR, a large-scale development planned for the Big Tupper Ski Area and the land around it, Maroun said the village publicly supporting the project and helped move it forward.
“I think we really publicized that, and I think that helped move it out of the Executive Branch (specifically the state Adirondack Park Agency),” Maroun said. “Unfortunately, I can’t use political influence on a judge.”
The project won approval from the APA in January 2012, and the local planning board gave it the go-ahead to start with the first phase of construction this February. It now needs a few other state and federal permits and is being challenged in a lawsuit from several environmental groups and nearby landowners.
Maroun said helping that project come to fruition in any way he can is still his number-one priority. He said it will bring private-sector jobs, which the village needs since so many rely on state and other public jobs that are dwindling or in jeopardy, like those at Sunmount and the school district.
Maroun also pushed village Fire Commissioner Rick Donah to work on a plan for a new emergency services building. Donah worked with town, village, fire, police and taxpayer representatives to propose a $4.5 million building, which village voters approved in a referendum earlier this month. Donah is now working with the consultant hired by the village to secure grant funds and move forward with plans for the project.
Maroun said Tupper Lake may not be climbing mountains like Saranac Lake, referencing the Saranac Lake 6er hiking program kicking off this weekend, “but this shows that Tupper Lake is moving ahead.
“We worked hard on that,” he said.
Maroun called the Municipal Park “the unpolished jewel of Tupper Lake.” There is a lot of activity right now to improve the vast park on Tupper Lake’s shoreline. A study is being compiled to look at the possibility of installing a beach at the park, the lights on the ball field are being replaced, the village is partnering with The Wild Center to install interactive exhibits along the shoreline, wireless Internet is being installed, and work should begin soon on a new playground there.
Maroun said there was grant money for those things just sitting there when he came on as mayor, and he made sure to put the money to use.
With each priority, Maroun said he has made progress.
“I think that all three of those, I’ve fulfilled the first part of my obligation, but we have to move it further than that,” Maroun said.
He also wants to work with the fire department to create a maintenance plan for its vehicles. The department used to regularly replace its apparatus, but when budgets got tight in recent years, its maintenance fund was slashed. Maroun said there need to be a plan in place to regularly replace the trucks so the department has reliable ones to use in emergencies.
“I think that I’ve done as good a job or better than any other mayor,” Maroun said.
As county legislator, Maroun said he helped the state and county negotiate with Mohawk tribal officials in the northwest corner of the county to come to a deal, announced earlier this week, that will mean money for the county and resolution to recent tension.
He also is helping negotiate with the county’s unions. He said people who work for the county need to realize the days of 4 and 5 percent raises are over.
On those and other issues, Maroun said he has and can continue to benefit the people of the county.
“I think that with my years of experience, that I can help the taxpayers,” Maroun said.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.