SARANAC LAKE - Harrietstown Republicans overwhelmingly endorsed Bob Bevilacqua as their candidate for town supervisor Tuesday.
Barring the entry of a third-party candidate, the move sets the stage for a two-person race for the one-year seat between Bevilacqua, who's in his fifth year as a town councilman, and current village trustee and former mayor Tom Catillaz, who was endorsed by village Democrats last week. The election is Nov. 6.
More than two dozen people showed up for Tuesday night's GOP caucus, which was held at the Harrietstown Town Hall and was over in five minutes. Bevilacqua was the only person who had submitted a letter of intent to the town Republican committee, and no one else sought the nomination at the caucus.
Bob Bevilacqua addresses the Harrietstown Republican caucus Wednesday night at the Harrietstown Town Hall.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"I'll do my best to serve the taxpayers of the town of Harrietstown to the best of my ability," Bevilacqua told the group after he received its endorsement. "I think I've done a decent job the last couple of years. We have a good board, and that makes the job a lot easier."
Speaking with the Enterprise after the caucus, Bevilacqua said if he's elected supervisor, he would take the same measured approach to making decisions he's employed during his tenure on the board.
"Before I make a decision, I will ask people for their opinion," he said. "I don't shoot from the hip. I look at what the effect is going to be down the road. You have to look out for the taxpayers, not just today but in the future."
Bevilacqua said the biggest issues facing the town include a sewer line replacement project in the Lake Colby area, up to $1 million in renovations to the town hall and opportunities for shared services with the village. While the public perception is that the town and village are often at odds, Bevilacqua said the rank-and-file town and village employees do work well together.
"There's a lot of cooperation that goes on between the village and town that people don't know about," he said. "Yes, there's some friction between the boards, just because the way the village and the town approach a project. If we could get them to slow down a little bit and get us to speed up a little bit, we'd probably meet right in the middle and we'd have a lot more cooperation. It's something we've got to work on; it's something they've got to work on."
Catillaz has said the town is lagging behind the village when it comes to promoting economic development, but Bevilacqua said the town has been laying the groundwork to bring new businesses to the community, citing the town's creation of shovel-ready development sites at its business park next to the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear. Bevilacqua said the business park would be "a perfect spot" for the village's Local Development Corporation to put a business incubator it wants to create.
Asked about running against Catillaz, Bevilacqua said he thinks it will be clean, low-key campaign.
"I've known Tom for a long time, and I consider him a friend," he said. "He's a good guy, a hard worker and a pretty thoughtful guy on the board. I'm not going to come out and say something bad against Tom. That's not the way I do things. I don't think he'd do the same thing, either."
"Everybody knows Tom Catillaz," town Republican and caucus Chairman Ray Scollin said during the caucus. "We need the community to get behind Bob, and that's what we're trying to do."
Harrietstown Republican Committee Chairman Joe Spadaro said the GOP "will have our work cut out for us," given the party demographics in the town. He said there are 1,096 registered Democrats in the town and 980 registered Republicans.
"The Democrats may outnumber us a little bit in Harrietstown, but we've got Bobby, and we're going to be fine, and we're going to win," said former town Councilman Jim Murnane.
Bevilacqua will also seek the endorsement of the town's Conservative Party committee at its Sept. 4 caucus.