Advice to board candidates
I’d like to take this time to inform the residents of the town of North Elba that I will not be seeking a fourth term as a North Elba town councilman.
It has been an honor to serve this community for the last 11 years on the town board, and the Lake Placid school board for four years before that. The decision to not seek re-election has been a difficult one.
I’ve heard it said that serving on the local level is a “thankless job.” Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. We are blessed to live in a very special place, where kindness and generosity are the norm.
In the last 15 years of public service I have learned a few things, which I’d like to pass along to whoever decides to take up the mantle and serve.
1. Work with your peers.
I am very blessed to have the opportunity to work with four professional and dedicated people who demonstrate an obvious love of our town. It has been a privilege to work with Roby, Jack, Derek and Jay. It is my guess that few will ever know how hard the members of this board work, or how much each member sacrifices in order to serve. I hope whoever follows me is as lucky. Jack, thank you for always be available to provide advice and guidance, and thank you, Derek, for partnering with me so often and for being such a good friend.
Be a team player. Respectfully agree, and respectfully disagree. Once elected, you will be one member of a five-member TEAM. Don’t play politics, and don’t take things personally. It isn’t about you; it’s about the community you serve. Don’t blindside, and don’t grandstand. Talk often, and be willing to compromise. Be willing to speak up, and more importantly, be willing to listen. Be willing to re-evaluate your position on issues. Always remember who you work for: the people of the town of North Elba.
2. Value the town employees.
I will miss working with the men and women serving the town more than I’ll miss anything. Town employees are not highly paid, yet they work hard every day in what can be challenging conditions. To all of the employees at the town: Thank you for all you do. Thank you for keeping our roads safe, for getting dirty and helping your neighbors with a smile on your face at the transfer station, for welcoming people when they walk into the town hall, for keeping the town hall so clean, for maintaining our parks, our cemetery, our airport and our golf course. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.
You have the best group of people anywhere working for you, and they make you look good, every day. Treat them with respect. See to it that their pay keeps pace with inflation and that their families have good-quality health insurance. Better their working conditions whenever possible. Treat every employee the way you would want your brother, or sister or spouse treated.
3. Be careful with spending.
Every dollar you spend is a dollar you are taking out of the taxpayer’s pockets. Provide necessary services and services the community has come to expect. Once you get beyond that, please be extremely frugal. There are members of our community who struggle to afford to live here. Make it easier for them, not worse.
4. Be willing to tackle difficult issues.
North Elba is a very special place. We are blessed to be able to call this our home. That said, we do have challenges. The shortage of affordable housing is squeezing out young families, as is the lack of living-wage jobs. These issues MUST be addressed. Do all you can to preserve what we have for the next generation, and every generation after that.
I am announcing my decision now as the political calendar changed in 2019. Potential candidates for election can begin collecting petition signatures beginning Feb. 26, far earlier than in years previous.
It is my hope that young people, and women, will consider running for office. We would be well served to have a diversified board of people from different backgrounds making decisions. I will be happy to provide assistance to anyone considering serving.
To my friends and neighbors throughout the town of North Elba: Thank you. I’ve done my best.
Bob Miller lives in Lake Placid.