Kaltenbach makes three for North Elba supervisor
LAKE PLACID — A third candidate has joined the race for North Elba town supervisor: Gary Kaltenbach, an independent.
He joins two previously announced candidates: longtime town councilmen Jay Rand and Derek Doty. Rand is running as a Republican and an independent, and Doty is running as an independent and hopes he gets chosen as the Democratic nominee by the North Elba Democratic Committee.
Kaltenbach said he’s running because he wants to see new faces on the town council.
“I think a lot of people on the council have been in those positions for a long time, and it’d be good to get a new broom in there,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Kaltenbach, born and raised in Lake Placid, worked as an Essex County Department of Public Works shop foreman for 35 years. Now he runs his own business, Coldbrook Property Maintenance. In 2015, he ran for North Elba highway superintendent but ultimately lost in a tight race to then-incumbent Republican Larry Straight.
One of the hottest issues in North Elba right now is short-term rentals and their possible effects on driving up housing costs and eroding a sense of community. Kaltenbach seems to have a similar view on short-term rentals as Rand and Doty, thinking they should be regulated. Kaltenbach said he used to rent out a home he owned in Keene but only for a handful of times a year.
“I think when they first started, it just a way for mom and pop to earn a little extra cash,” he said. “I don’t think the original idea was to have people come in here and buy up six or eight houses and rent them out all year long. I live on Johnson Avenue, which was seen as a working man’s neighborhood, but if the average salary in Lake Placid is about $50,000, how can we expect young couples and families to come here and afford a house if the costs keeping going up?”
According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income in Lake Placid is $53,487. The median cost of a house in Lake Placid is $344,400 Kaltenbach said, if elected, he would like to introduce solar panels on the roof of the Olympic Center, which the town owns.
“Solar power can be a little rough in the Northeast,” he said, “but, you know, seven or eight months out of the year, solar panels can be a good investment.”
Whereas Rand and Doty would like to continue the type of work current Supervisor Roby Politi has done at the county level, Kaltenbach thinks North Elba should have a somewhat more aggressive position in the Essex County Board of Supervisors. North Elba holds the most voting power on the board since it has the greatest population of the county’s 18 towns.
“I’d like to see more of the tax dollars we’re generating get spent here instead of the other towns,” he said.
He brought up the condition of North Elba’s roads.
“I’d say Old Military Road is one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the county, but we’ve got potholes that will swallow your car whole,” he said. “You look at towns like Moriah and Newcomb, places with smaller populations, and they’re always paving and working on their highways.”
“I wish that were the case,” said Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava. “The Board of Supervisors tends to stay out of how the highway money is spent. Let’s put it this way, if politics were involved, North Elba, Ticonderoga and Moriah would always have the best roads because those three have the most votes.”
Essex County General Public Works Supervisor Mike McGinn said there isn’t a difference between the amount of highway work done throughout the towns.
“Each town has X amount of miles were scheduled to work on each year,” he said. “Every town gets treated the same.”
Old Military Road (county Route 35) was extensively redone in 2013. The $7.4-million project included the installation of a new bridge over the Chubb River and realignment of Riki Hill. McGinn added that the department is scheduled to work on Old Military Road this year.
Newcomb town Supervisor Robin DeLoria disagreed with Kaltenbach’s claims, too.
“We never have the county highway department working down here,” he said. “We’ve often have to plow roads like (county Routes 25 and 84) in the winter. Those are Newcomb trucks. We’re not getting preferential treatment.”
Meanwhile, numerous candidates are lining up to run for two town council positions that will be up for grabs. Three Republicans — Richard Cummings, Doug Hoffman and Jeremy Mihill — plan to compete in a party primary in June for the seats, according to town Clerk Laurie Curtis Dudley. Rik Cassidy of Saranac Lake has already said he plans to run as well, on the independent Adirondack Party line.
Councilman Bob Miller has said he will not seek re-election, and Rand’s council seat will also open as he runs for supervisor.
The Republican committee also endorsed Kenneth Porter, the town’s deputy highway superintendent, to run for the superintendent position being vacated by Straight, who plans to step down after this year.
The committee also endorsed Dudley for re-election as town clerk and Joe Provoncha for re-election as Essex County clerk.
The North Elba Democratic Committee has not yet met to endorse candidates.
There is still plenty of time for more candidates to run for local office. Throughout New York state, major-party candidates can begin getting petitions signed to get on the ballot Feb. 26 and must file those petitions between April 1 and 4. Independent candidates can start circulating petitions April 16 and must file them between May 21 and 28. A primary to determine each party’s nominee, if necessary, will be June 25 — moved up from September this year so federal, state and local primaries coincide. The general election will be Nov. 5.