SARANAC LAKE - Clyde Rabideau will seek another four-year term as village mayor.
"I fully intend to run again," Rabideau told the Enterprise Tuesday morning. "I love what the village is doing and the position we're in. I enjoy working with our village employees. The Board of Trustees, especially, have been a great group to work with, and more importantly I like working with Saranac Lakers."
Rabideau, a Democrat, called his tenure at the helm of the village "the most rewarding political experience of my life." More rewarding than his 10 years as mayor of Plattsburgh in the 1990s?
"The experience I had in Plattsburgh makes me appreciate even more the experiences I'm having now," Rabideau said.
Rabideau posted an announcement of his plan to seek re-election on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
It's too early to know for sure if he will face a challenger in the March 18 village election. Democrats and Republicans have yet to set the dates of their party caucuses to nominate candidates, but Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Ray Scollin said Tuesday that one person has shown an interest in running for mayor. He declined to say who that person is.
"It would be a familiar name, and the person hasn't made up their mind yet," he said.
Rabideau's position is one of three village board seats on the ballot this year. The others are held by trustees Tom Catillaz, a Democrat, and Allie Pelletieri, a Conservative, both of whom are also seeking re-election.
A local builder and developer, Rabideau was asked by a group of local Democrats to run for mayor in January 2010. At the Democratic caucus later that month he won the party's nomination over incumbent mayor Tom Michael by a two-to-one margin. He campaigned on a platform to cut taxes, reduce wasteful spending and increase the village tax base. On Election Day, he defeated then-village trustee Jeff Branch, a Republican, 681 to 577.
Rabideau said Tuesday he's lived up to his campaign promises.
"We scored on all those counts," he said. "We've kept the tax rate increase at or below the 2 percent tax cap, even before it became law. We've cut as much wasteful spending as we can. Moreover, we've (annexed) 67 acres from the American Management Association campus, and that will bear a lot of fruit in the years ahead. (AMA is tax-exempt but wants to sell or develop some of its unused buildings and acreage). And we've got two great hotel projects on tap in addition to the $35 million partnership with Trudeau Institute and Clarkson University. We are on the right track."
Among other accomplishments during his tenure, Rabideau named bringing a pair of biotech companies to the village, completing a $13 million water system upgrade and a $1 million sidewalk replacement project, and launching the successful Saranac Lake 6er hiking program.
He said there's still more to do, and that's why he wants to stay in office.
"We want to guide these two hotel resorts to fruition. We want to do it the right way with proper planning. We've got a major upgrade on Lake Flower Avenue on tap, and we've got more biotechs we're going after. There's a lot to do in the years ahead, and I want to be there helping to do it."
There's no doubt that Rabideau has been a fierce advocate and publicity hound for the village, but he also has a sometimes bare-knuckles style of government that has rubbed some people the wrong way, including elected officials in neighboring towns and some local residents and business leaders.
"I'm no longer an altar boy, if that's what you're talking about," Rabideau said. "I am very passionate about some subjects and I'll defend the programs we've initiated as much as we can, but I'm very respectful of the taxpayers and citizens of Saranac Lake."
Some of the biggest scrutiny involving Rabideau over the last four years surrounded his role as developer of North Country Community College's Lake Flower Avenue Welcome Center, but the mayor said Tuesday that he didn't use his political influence to advance the project.
"I stand by what I did. It was an honorable deal. It was a good deal for everybody involved. The proof of that will be when the road is connected and the building is built and people will say, 'Wow. It makes sense.'"
Scollin said Rabideau has been a "wonderful promoter" and cheerleader for the village, but he said he's also disappointed by several things that happened under his administration.
"We did get our biotech companies in and I'm grateful to that, but the renovation of one of the buildings was charged out in part to the water budget," Scollin said. "That should never have happened. We've spread out that cost of renovating that building on the backs of people who pay for water, some of whom are outside the village."
Pelletieri said he and Rabideau haven't always seen eye to eye on issues, "but we express ourselves and move on.
"I think he's done a good job," Pelletieri said. "He's always been up front with me. I've enjoyed working with Clyde."
Catillaz said he will run for another trustee term and hopes to get the Democratic endorsement.
"We've got a lot of good things going, and hopefully it's going to continue," he said. "We have a good board right now, and we're getting a lot of things accomplished."
Pelletieri said he'll pursue the Conservative and Republican nominations for another four years.
"We have a lot of things we've started that I'd like to see come to completion, like the comprehensive plan and the skateboard park," he said. "It's a challenging time for Saranac Lake, but I see us having some opportunities, and I want to continue."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.