AuSABLE FORKS - The incumbents in the town of Jay were all smiles Tuesday night after polling results rolled in and they found they had defeated their challengers.
Only the tax collector race, which didn't have an incumbent, was still up in the air, with just 13 votes separating the two candidates -?Valerie Coolidge and Tina Fenton - and at least 41 absentee ballots still to be counted. There were also at least two ballots that couldn't be read by the voting machines and aren't included in the overall count that will be added later, poll workers said.
Town council members Archie Depo and Amy Shalton beat challenger Fred Balzac, garnering 593 and 526 votes respectively to Balzac's 277.
Jay town Highway Superintendent Chris Garrow gets an emotional hug as he learns that he has won enough votes to keep his job for another term at the Jay Community Center Tuesday night. Town Supervisor Randy Douglas, kneeling, calculates other votes and town Councilman Archie Depo, behind Douglas without a hat, who also beat his challenger, watches.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Depo said he was nervous as he waited for results to roll in, as he always does. This was his fifth election campaign. In his next term, Depo said he plans to focus on continuing cleanup from Tropical Storm Irene. He also wants to bring more businesses into town, including a hydroelectric plant, a health clinic connected to Elizabethtown Community Hospital and possibly a hardware store.
"It'll be a slow process, but we plan on slowly rebuilding our town, bringing our tax base back," Depo said.
Shalton said she was happy with the turnout, and she thanked her supporters. She said she saw the results as a great vote of confidence in the current board.
"We're going to work hard for the town," Shalton said. "I'm very privileged to be elected again."
Balzac told the Enterprise he was disappointed.
"I was hoping for a better showing, but it's hard to beat two incumbents, especially from the major parties," he said. "I'm a Green. We're sort of the upstarts, I guess."
He said he feels like he had an impact by raising what he saw as important issues.
"I think there's a need for a number of issues to be addressed that aren't being addressed, and maybe they will be now," Balzac said.
He plans to stay involved in politics, especially by trying to cultivate the Green Party in Essex County. He's attended some state committee meetings and said the party's platform is comprehensive and could speak to many needs in the North Country.
Highway Superintendent Chris Garrow got 473 votes to beat challenger William Lincoln Sr., who drew 319.
"I'm excited," Garrow said. "I'm happy it's over. I've had a lot of turmoil in my life in the last few days, but this makes it a little bit better."
Garrow's wife's sister and her husband died after a car crash in Florida within the last week.
He said he's looking forward to continuing with the projects he has already started on and building up the town's infrastructure. Garrow has worked for the town Highway Department in 1986 and was first elected highway superintendent in 2001.
He had been nervous, which he said is easy to do when you have an opponent.
"I'm glad it worked out the way it did," Garrow said. "I'm happy."
Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said he's happy with the results of both the board and highway superintendent races.
"I think we have a very proactive, transparent and accountable board, and we've done a lot of things together over the last 10 years," Douglas told the Enterprise.
The most important things he noted were passing budgets over the last 10 years with tax levy increases that averaged 1-and-three-quarter percent, and all the town has done to recover from Tropical Storm Irene two years ago. The town spent $3 million on recovery efforts, "and not one penny of it went on the tax levy," he said, due to the board and town officials working together to aggressively go after grant money.
"We're a team," Douglas said.
There was also a race for town justice, but it was rendered irrelevant when the town board eliminated the position earlier this year and voters supported that decision in a special election in October. The position was still on the ballot, though. Rodney Dockum got 197 votes, incumbent Robert Minogue got 146, and 137 people voted for Rosamond Lincoln-Day.
Douglas ran uncontested and drew 663 votes, as did town Clerk Beatrice Pelkey, who got 601.