Incumbents sweep Saranac Lake village election (2nd update)

SARANAC LAKE – The three incumbents on the ballot easily won new terms Tuesday in a village election marked by low voter turnout.

Democrat Clyde Rabideau was re-elected to another four-year term as mayor, defeating Republican challenger Dianna Trummer by a count of 391 to 141.

Allie Pelletieri, who ran on the Conservative, Democratic and Republican lines, was the top vote getter in a three-way race for two trustee seats. He received 501 votes – one from almost every voter – according to the official results from the village.

Democrat Tom Catillaz also won another four-year term on the board, collecting 378 votes.

Republican challenger Gary Hoffman, who like Trummer was making his first run for village office, received 155 votes.

Voter turnout was sparse, likely due to what proved to be a relatively quiet, uneventful and uncontroversial campaign. Only 509 people, or roughly 19 percent of the village’s 2,647 registered voters, cast ballots Tuesday.

Mayor’s race

Rabideau served 10 years as Plattsburgh’s mayor in the 1990s before becoming Saranac Lake mayor four years ago. He said he feels “validated” by the election results.

“I was the unknown person four years ago, not really from Saranac Lake,” he said. “But I’ve lived here 10 years now, and I’ve been re-elected and I feel very gratified. There’s a lot of work left to do, and I’m anxious to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

The race pitted a political veteran, Rabideau, against a political newcomer, Trummer, who had never run for elected office before. Asked if he ever doubted that he’d come away the winner Tuesday, Rabideau said he once lost an election when he was considered the “shoe-in,” so he didn’t take anything for granted.

He also commended Trummer for getting involved.

“It takes a lot of courage to run for public office,” Rabideau said. “She put her name out there. We need more people to do that.”

Trummer said she was “honored and humbled” to receive as many votes as she did. She said she plans to stay involved in village issues.

“Anybody that knows me knows I always give my two cents, whether they want it or not,” Trummer said with a laugh. “I might be a little more vocal. There’s a couple land-use-code-related things that I’m interested in, and just in general following the village board.”

Looking back at the campaign, Trummer said she would have campaigned more if she had to do it again. After she was nominated, she said she had to deal with some family issues “that kind of held me back a little bit.”

Rabideau ran on his record of upgrading village sidewalks and roads, bringing a pair of biotechnology companies to the village, promoting tourism through the Saranac Lake 6er hiking program and keeping tax levy increases under 2 percent. He also promised greater days to come, calling this a “very special time in Saranac Lake’s history.”

Trummer’s campaign focused on the high cost of living faced by many people in the community due to rising taxes and village utility rates. She said she’s worried that this issue won’t get the attention it deserves from the village.

“My experience has been, those that struggle understand the problem. Those that don’t struggle don’t,” Trummer said. “I really don’t know if they would have the same intensity I would have. I’d like to think so, but I really don’t know.”

Rabideau said he agrees with Trummer that taxes in the village are high.

“Since I’ve taken office, I’ve stopped the tax increases (above 2 percent), but I haven’t lowered them,” he said. “But just by stopping the increases means I’ve made significant cuts while in office, and we have more to do. We’ve got to look at restructuring, shared services, and we’ve got to increase our tax base because it’s not sustainable the way we’re going right now.”

One area where the village may have to cut costs, Rabideau said, is the police department, which he said makes up more than half of the village budget.

Rabideau said infrastructure projects like rebuilding Lake Flower Avenue will also be a priority in his next term. He also said he wants two pending hotel projects to “go through in the appropriate fashion” and hopes to bring more jobs to the community, specifically more biotech companies.

Trustees

Pelletieri said he was overwhelmed by the support he received.

“I feel the people have a vote of confidence in me, but it wasn’t just me,” he said. “We worked as a team and as a board. I look at it as they’re backing the board.”

A registered Conservative, Pelleteri was also endorsed by village Republicans and Democrats. He actually received more votes on the Democratic line, 321, than he did on the Republican and Conservative party lines combined, 180.

Despite the support, Pelletieri said he was disappointed with the turnout. He said he hopes more people vote in the next election and get involved in village government.

Catillaz thanked all those who cast ballots for him, Rabideau and Pelletieri.

“I think we have a good thing rolling here that’s good for the community,” he said. “It’s going to carry on for the next four years, and I hope we do bigger and better things.”

Hoffman, a former Wilmington town justice who moved to Saranac Lake two years ago, said he was disappointed he didn’t do better but was grateful to have met a lot of people during the campaign and heard their concerns.

“I was pretty much an unknown factor because I haven’t been around that much,” he said. “I still plan on being involved. I’m not going away. You can bet on that.”

Hoffman said he may run for village office again sometime in the future.

Write-ins

There were two write-in votes Tuesday. One person wrote in former village Trustee Jeff Branch’s name for mayor on an absentee ballot. Someone else wrote in Douglas Drumm for mayor on the paper ballot inside a voting machine.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.