Blais set to break record for longest-serving mayor in state

Lake George Mayor Robert Blais (Provided photo — The Post-Star)

LAKE GEORGE — Mayor Robert Blais is assured of a 13th term in office and will add to his record longevity in the position, as no one has challenged him in the March 19 election.

Also running unopposed are Deputy Mayor John Earl and Ray Perry for two four-year seats on the Village Board.

Blais, 82, has been mayor since 1971. He said Thursday that it was bittersweet that there are no contested races.

“On the one hand, it could be a compliment that people are satisfied with the way things are going, and that’s the way I like to think about it,” he said. “But on the other hand, I’d like to know there’s people out there that are interested in carrying on the good work that we think we’ve done.”

Blais had said previously he may not serve out the full four-year term if re-elected. He was looking for a protege to show the ropes.

He said a couple of people have expressed interest in shadowing him to learn the position, including a current trustee who he said did not want to be named.

Blais is about become the longest-tenured mayor in New York state, surpassing Clarence Michalis of the Long Island village of Lattingtown, who stepped down in April 2017 after nearly 48 years because of failing health. He died on March 30 at the age of 96.

Blais is tied for third on the list of longest-tenured mayors in the United States, according to Wikipedia. Topping the list is Charles E. Long, mayor of Booneville, Kentucky, who was elected in 1959 and is still serving.

Blais said previously he did not want to leave the helm with the village set to build a new $22 million wastewater treatment plant. Lake George is under a mandate from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to replace its 85-year-old plant. The plant releases an excessive amount of nitrates, which causes algal blooms and can degrade the quality of the lake.

He said his top priority is obtaining more grant funding to lessen the burden on local residents and businesses. More than $7 million in funds have been awarded to the village so far for the plant. He said he received a call from a representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he received a packet of information the village sent about the plant and saying Lake George has been discussed in budget meetings.

Blais plans to apply for another round of funding through the governor’s Regional Economic Development Council.

The village is also seeking money through the Northern Alliance, which is a coalition of lake protection groups. He met last week with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. She plans to speak to the director of the alliance, Blais said.

“We were optimistic that we will be able to possibly recoup a million dollars through that grant process,” he said.

Blais also supports a county idea to allocate more occupancy tax funding to communities for infrastructure projects.

Another priority for his last term is to see the Krantz Cottage project completed, Blais said. The Ronald McDonald House Charities plans to convert a residence on Ottawa Street into a vacation resort for families.

He also wants to keep the village budget affordable for taxpayers.

When asked how he felt to be serving so long as mayor, Blais said he was grateful.

“It’s a great honor every day when I get up. I’m blessed to be able to have a great place to go to work that I still enjoy.”