TUPPER LAKE - Deputy Highway Superintendent Bill Dechene, who ran on the Republican and Maple Leaf lines, won big in Tupper Lake for the job of highway superintendent.
Dechene ran against town Supervisor, Roger Amell, who would have had to give up his position to take the job, and former village Trustee Tim Larkin.
Amell said in pre-election interviews that he would prefer a hands-on job like highway superintendent to the supervisor seat.
Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun congratulates fellow Republican Bill Dechene on his landslide win in the race for town highway superintendent Tuesday night at Tupper Lake Republican campaign headquarters at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Initial, unofficial numbers showed Dechene with 1,139 votes, a lead of 767 votes over Amell's 372 and more than 1,000 over Larkin's 65.
The seat was vacated by Mark "Hawkeye" Lavigne, who retired in April, leaving a single year on his term. Many expected Dechene to be appointed to the job after Lavigne's retirement, but Amell said he and the town council appointed Rick Dattola instead, to put the candidates on fair footing, Amell said.
He said if either he or Dechene was appointed then lost the election, they would have already given up their prior position. He also said the highway superintendent seat has a history of being given to the deputy as an appointment, giving that person an up in the next election, and Amell said he wanted to break that cycle and give taxpayers a chance to have a real choice.
Dechene will be up for re-election in 2012 for a full four-year term.
The scene was jovial as poll numbers trickled in from Tupper Lake's six election districts at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, which Tupper Lake Republicans used as their election night headquarters. Dechene's vote ratio was similar in each district.
Dechene said he was very pleased with voter turnout, saying he believes the sunny, warm weather helped encourage people to visit the polls.
"I wasn't honestly expecting (the margin) to be that big," Dechene said. "I'd like to thank all my friends and family and the people that supported me."
He noted that his wife, Rachel, known for being a boisterous foil to his quiet personality, played a big role in his campaign.
"Behind every good man, there's a good woman, and that's my wife," Dechene said. "She's helped me out an awful lot, and she's been behind me 110 percent."
Dechene said he's relieved the election is over and excited to start the job.
He said he's not concerned about working with Amell now that he beat him in the election.
"I'm ready to work with the board," Dechene said.
Amell agreed that both men will be able to put the election behind them and work together, noting that they worked together most of the summer when Amell volunteered time with the department.
Amell said he was shocked by how much the vote favored Dechene.
"I thought it would be a little closer than that, but yeah, the voters, they didn't want a change," Amell said. "The voters made a decision, that's all."
He said he's not sure yet whether he will run for highway superintendent next year. If Dechene does a good job, he said, there won't be any need.
Larkin didn't respond to messages left for him Tuesday night.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.