Rice is new rep for Franklin County District 7

SARANAC LAKE – Barbara Rice won a three-way race for the District 7 seat on the Franklin County Legislature by a wide margin Tuesday.

Rice, a Democrat, received 819 votes, defeating Republican Edwin Randig who received 273 votes and Independence Party candidate Curtis Reynolds, who collected 198 votes, according to the unofficial results posted on the Franklin County Board of Elections website. Rice won both of the towns in the district, Harrietstown and Franklin.

A cheer went up in the lobby of the Harrietstown Town Hall, where Rice had gathered with a group of her supporters and local Democrats, when the numbers were read aloud by her husband, Chad McCarthy.

“It’s exciting,” Rice told the Enterprise. “I’m really thankful to all the people who have encouraged me and supported me throughout this whole process, and all the people who got out to vote.”

Rice also commended Randig and Reynolds, each of whom was seeking political office for the first time.

“I think it’s very important to have choice, and I hope it’s not the last we see of them in local politics. They’re both good guys, and I think they can really contribute.”

Rice, the co-owner of Rice Furniture, will now hold two elected positions; she’s also a village of Saranac Lake trustee, a position she’s held since last year. On the Legislature, she’ll replace Democrat Tim Burpoe, who opted not to seek re-election and endorsed Rice.

Rice said she looks forward to digging into county matters, including the budgetary issues raised by a recent state comptroller’s audit.

“I’m hoping I can apply some of the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired both as a business person and in my role as a village trustee to begin the process of really taking a look at some of the problems they have,” Rice said, “like working on long-term strategic plans so you have a road map for the future, and taking some of the recommendations the comptroller put out there.”

All three candidates in this race said they wanted to push for a stronger voice for the southern Franklin County towns on the Legislature. Each said they want legislators to meet more often in this end of the county.

“That would allow people here to participate more in county government, and I think that will go a long way,” Rice said. “I also think the fact that I’m on the village board will help to improve the communication between this area and the county.”

Randig, who was at the town hall when the results came in, shook hands with Rice and wished her well. He said he had no regrets about the campaign.

“The voters did what they needed to do,” said Randig, the town of Harrietstown’s code enforcement officer. “They chose the right person. That’s the important thing.”

Reynolds hadn’t heard the results until the Enterprise called him Tuesday night. He said he planned to call Rice today to congratulate her.

“I think she has the qualifications, and she certainly is a nice gal,” Reynolds said. “I’ve known her all my life. We all grew up and went to school together, all three of us. She obviously has the best interest of the county and certainly the people of District 7 in mind.”

Reynolds, a retired prison guard, described his first foray into politics as a learning experience. He said he may run for office again in the future.