Mallach to run for supervisor while deployed overseas
Harrietstown Democrats nominate candidates: Schrader and Williams for board, Harrison for clerk, Martin for highway
SARANAC LAKE — Harrietstown Democrats gathered Tuesday evening and selected council member Jordanna Mallach to run for supervisor — even though she will be stationed overseas with the military for the next nine months — plus council member Tracey Schrader to run for reelection and local businessman Johnny Williams to run for the board as well.
It was a well-attended caucus with around 55 people inside the town hall auditorium.
Current Supervisor Mike Kilroy is not running for reelection. Mallach was the sole nominee for the supervisor position at the caucus. On Saturday she will deploy with the Vermont Army National Guard to Kosovo, where she will serve with the military until March 2022.
She will still attend town council meetings and can take phone calls and emails about council matters, but not campaign matters, as per military rules.
The Harrietstown Republican caucus will be held Wednesday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Harrietstown Town Hall.
The election will be held Nov. 2.
There were four applicants to be the Democratic nominees for town council: Dylan Van Cott and Nicole Morin along with Schrader and Williams. There could only be two nominations, though. Schrader and Williams garnered the most votes — 39 and 33, respectively. Van Cott and Morin gathered 20 and 18 votes, respectively.
Schrader said she feels like she’s just getting started on the board.
“For the past four years I feel like I’m just getting my feet wet. I’d really like to continue,” she said.
She also listed the other boards she’s been on, including the Saranac Lake school board, the Village Improvement Society and Women’s College Scholarship Club.
“At the age of 55, I don’t really want to take the time to talk about all the things I have done because we’d be here for a while,” Schrader said.
Schrader is running on the Common Sense party line, as well as the Democratic.
Williams said he wants to maintain his childhood hometown and put a pair of “fresh eyes” on the board.
He said he grew up on the back side of Dewey Mountain and has fond memories of tree forts and running in the woods. After spending college and his early career in California, he moved back to town and now owns two businesses — Bitters and Bones bar and restaurant and T.F. Finnigan’s men’s clothing store.
He said he’s spent years organizing campus groups, volunteer groups and the Turkey Trot food pantry fundraiser.
Williams is registered as an independent, but sought the Democrats’ endorsement.
“I certainly hope that party lines in our small town politics don’t necessarily cloud anyone’s vision,” he told the crowd.
Van Cott gave a speech talking about love for his town and hard work, listing his other roles within the community. Morin gave a lively speech about the seven years she’s lived in the North Country and how after graduating from Paul Smith’s College she felt ready to serve the community she now calls home.
Sabrina Harrison was nominated for the clerk and tax collector position. She is the current deputy clerk and town court clerk. Patricia Gillmett, the longtime clerk and tax collector, is retiring this year. Harrison said she wants to keep the office running as smoothly as Gillmett has.
Dan Martin was nominated for reelection as highway superintendent. He was appointed to the position in 2019 and elected in 2020. He said he’s worked for 21 years in the department and hopes to continue for many more.
There were no nominations for town justice, which led to some concerned whispers around the room.
Run from abroad
Mallach will run for Harrietstown’s top spot from 4,400 miles away in the country of Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. She’ll be working in logistics at the NATO headquarters there as part of Task Force Mansfield.
She said when she chose to run, she had no idea she’d be deployed.
Though she’s usually a comfortable public speaker, she started her speech at the caucus by saying, “I’m incredibly nervous for some reason.”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been quite so nervous,” she said later.
She said she felt a lot of emotions as she addressed the crowd, asking for their vote for town supervisor and knowing it would be the last time she’d see many of them before deploying.
She said she’s been deployed in the past but was never as tied to a community as she is now and has more to miss.
At the caucus, Mallach said military deployment has always been a burden she and her family shared. She asked the community to help carry that weight and support her.
“I can appreciate that it’s hard to wrap your mind around voting for someone who is not going to be here, but I hope that the work I have done in the past and the work that I’ve continued to do on the town council will be sufficient in earning your vote,” Mallach said.
When she got her deployment orders in May, it came as a surprise.
“It’s definitely not ideal,” she said. “It was definitely not in my plan. … But there’s things in life that you can control, and there’s things in life that you can’t control.”
She’ll retire from the military in two years — she will have served 20 years total — and has already attended retirement briefing.
If elected, she would spend her first three months as supervisor in a different continent. She doesn’t even know if she’ll have any opponents yet.
There is a six-hour time difference between Kosovo an Saranac Lake.
Mallach had to get approval from the Pentagon to attend town board meetings while overseas. She’ll continue using Zoom, extending online attendance of board meetings that started during the pandemic. She’ll use a VPN to connect securely, which she’ll also use for her town email and other town businesses, though she joked there are not many sensitive state secrets in Harrietstown.
While she can conduct regular town business, she can’t campaign or do interviews on the race while deployed. She’s been assembling a document, trying to answer any question people might ask her.
She said her decision to run for supervisor represents her commitment to the community, and her decision to deploy represents her commitment to the country.
Reasons for running
Mallach has been on the council for the past four years. Initially, she planned to run for town council again this year, but when Kilroy announced he was leaving the seat open, she saw it as an opportunity.
“I feel like I have unfinished business,” Mallach said.
Mallach said she admires Kilroy’s job as supervisor, especially his work on the town’s budget, which she said is in a better position than many towns and counties in the area.
The town is in the midst of making decisions about road salt as studies have showed it contaminates natural waters and wells, and the state is trying to reduce its use. She also said she wants to promote the town-owned Adirondack Regional Airport and see it through its contaminated soil cleanup with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
She’s excited about Dewey Mountain as a big asset for the town.
“I don’t think that Dewey has reached its full potential yet,” Mallach said.
Mallach said she’d continue conducting an annual outside audit of the town, as Kilroy has done. She also wants to continue Zoom meetings, especially since this will be the way she’ll attend meetings for 10 months. She’s working on purchasing equipment to improve sound quality for all. She said she wants everyone to hear everyone clearly, whether they are in the room or on Zoom.
She said she wants to introduce an employee appreciation program to honor the people who have been working there for years.
“We have institutional knowledge, both at the airport and the highway department, that is really impressive,” Mallach said.
Mallach’s peers on the board gushed at the meeting about her skills and threw their support behind her.