SARANAC LAKE - Harrietstown Democrats endorsed a current village trustee, not a former one, as their candidate for town supervisor Wednesday.
Tom Catillaz, a village trustee since 2010 and a former village mayor, won the unanimous support of the dozen Democrats who turned out for the party's caucus at the Harrietstown Town Hall. He'll be on the ballot in November for a one-year term as town supervisor, a position that's been vacant since Larry Miller stepped down earlier this year. A full, four-year term will up for a vote next year.
The nomination of Catillaz was somewhat of a surprise. It came about after former Trustee John McEneany, who had been interested in the supervisor's post and had changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, withdrew his name from consideration on Tuesday.
Tom Catillaz, who was nominated Wednesday by the Harrietstown Democratic caucus to run for town supervisor, holds an “Uptown Saranac Lake” T-shirt given to him at the caucus by Franklin County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Pickreign. Catillaz said he’s been getting “a lot of heat” from people in other parts of the village about the “Downtown Saranac Lake” T-shirts the village has been selling recently.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
McEneany told the Enterprise after Wednesday's caucus that he didn't think he could devote himself fully to the job of supervisor because of his responsibilities as a village fire driver, a position he was hired to in March after he failed to win the Republican nomination for another term on the village board.
"I made a commitment to the village of Saranac Lake and to its fire department, and there's still a tremendous learning curve for me," McEneany said. "So for me to split my energies at this point wouldn't be fair."
Catillaz said he had been interested in the supervisor's seat after Miller's departure, but when McEneany's name came up, he said, "I just shut my mouth.
"But he canceled out yesterday morning, and the stars seemed to align for me, and I'm ready to do it," Catillaz said after the caucus. "I'm very excited about it."
After Catillaz was nominated, town resident and Harrietstown Budget Officer Mike Kilroy raised concern about the prospect of Catillaz holding two elected positions at the same time. He had researched the issue and provided the caucus with several legal opinions.
"Although it's legal, they're not considered compatible positions. It's not a conflict of interest; however, should Tom get elected and does not resign his (trustee) position, an Article 78 (lawsuit) could be brought against the town.
"I personally don't want the same person on both boards," Kilroy continued, "especially with what's going on in the past six months. You've got the village police and state police issue, the Lake Colby sewer, the Trudeau (Institute) annexation. If you had the same person on both boards, there definitely would be a conflict of interest."
Kilroy added that he would support Catillaz's nomination if he agreed to resign from his trustee seat.
"Thank you, Mr. Democrat," village Mayor Clyde Rabideau quipped after Kilroy was done speaking.
"I don't think it has anything to do with Democrats or Republicans, Clyde," Kilroy fired back. "I'm not being bullied in by anybody, especially you."
Catillaz then spoke up and said he would resign his trustee seat immediately if he's elected town supervisor.
Before the floor was closed to nominations, McEneany put Ed Goetz's name on the table for the supervisor's post, but Goetz declined the nomination.
Catillaz's likely opponent in the November election is Harrietstown Councilman Bob Bevilacqua, who is expected to get the endorsement of the Harrietstown Republican caucus when it meets on Tuesday.
"It's not going to be a dirty campaign," Catillaz said. "Bob's a friend. He's a very nice guy, a very smart guy."
If he's elected, Catillaz said he'd make economic development his top priority. He doesn't think town officials have been as active as they could be in trying to foster job growth in the community.
"We need their participation," Catillaz said. "We want to bring companies here and bring jobs here. The village can't do it by itself. We need a team effort. But I don't have any axes to grind with anyone on the town board. I think there's some very good people on there."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.