North Elba Democrats nominate 3
LAKE PLACID — The race for North Elba town supervisor will likely be contested.
North Elba Democrats held a caucus at the North Elba Town House in Saranac Lake on Tuesday and nominated town Councilor Derek Doty to run for supervisor against incumbent Jay Rand, who is running for reelection on the Republican line. Doty ran against Rand two years ago for the town supervisor seat, and also ran against former town Supervisor Roby Politi in 2011.
The Democratic caucus results have not yet been certified by the Essex County Board of Elections, according to North Elba Democratic Committee Chair Betsy Brown. Brown did not confirm the names of the nominees, but the Enterprise independently confirmed them.
Democrats nominated village Trustee Jason Leon to run for a seat on the town council. Leon will also be on the independent North Elba United party line this November and would be term-limited from running for village board again. Dean Dietrich was nominated to run for town justice. He is the incumbent and is unopposed.
Richard Preston, who is currently the president of the Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education, has filed to run on the Republican line and the independent Team Work line for North Elba Town Council.
There are two seats up for election on the council — Doty’s seat and Jack Favro’s seat — so Preston and Leon are running unopposed, unless there are write-in candidates.
The primary election was Tuesday, but there was no primary for North Elba’s races. North Elba’s Democratic Party has caucuses, and its Republican Party has primaries.
The general election is Nov. 2.
Doty, who lives in Ray Book, runs Doty Property Management. In his capacity as a town councilor, he serves as the landfill, park district and Saranac Lake liaison, and he finds that although he’s not the liaison for the Highway Department, he said he spends a lot of time on highway business, too. Doty said between his business and his work for the town, it’s getting to be too much to do both.
“My primary reason for running for supervisor is that in these last two years since Jay was elected, and certainly nothing on him about it, but the town is so much busier. As a councilor, I’m spending so much time on the town that I’m having a hard time on my own business,” he said. “My first passion is the town.
“I need to either be supervisor for the town or focus on my business,” he added.
Doty said he’s “great friends” with Rand, and that makes running against him hard.
“There’ll probably be a few things I’ll do differently if I’m lucky enough to be elected,” Doty said. “I don’t want this election to be about Democrat or Republican.
“We’re lucky to be in a small community. Once voters are educated, they hopefully pick the right candidate,” he said.
Doty asked voters to speak with town employees they know and get their opinion on how things are run on a day-to-day basis. Doty, as he has in the past, is pitching himself as the candidate who will focus on infrastructure.
“I understand construction, engineering, all the facets that really help in times of big bids,” he said.
Doty was first elected town councilor in 2003. In the past, he has served on the Saranac Lake Central School District Board of Education and the Franklin Town Council, as well as the St. Bernard’s School Education Council in Saranac Lake. For many years he was an independent butcher, running Doty’s Country Road Beef in Saranac Lake.
Rand will be on the ballot this November on the Republican Party line. He won against Doty two years ago after former town Supervisor Roby Politi retired. Before that, he was on the town council for more than 30 years.
Rand was on the 1980 Olympic Organizing Committee, served as general manager of Whiteface Mountain, the Olympic Jumping Complex and the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, and as the executive director of the New York Ski Educational Foundation.
Rand is an Olympian — he competed with the U.S. ski jumping team from 1966 to 1977 and went to the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France, at the age of 17.
Leon has been on the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees since 2009, when he was appointed by then-Mayor Craig Randall. He’s won every reelection bid since then, most recently in 2019. Because he was appointed for a year, then ran to fill the remainder of a term before running a second time for a full term, Leon has been able to serve on the village board for longer than an elected official typically would because of term limits.
Because he’s been on the board going on 13 years, Leon said he’s familiar with the way government runs and how the various town departments run. He believes it would be “an incredibly smooth transfer” to town council from the village board.
Leon works at the Lake Placid Central School District as technology coordinator, working part of the time teaching technology for students K-5, and part of the time coordinating technology purchases and having conversations with district officials about technology use in schools. He also supports district IT.
Leon is also the father of a 3-year-old boy and “another on the way,” he said Wednesday.
“The primary reason I’m running for town (council) is that over the years, I’ve come to realize that the town has substantial influence over how things are run for the town and the village,” he said. “A lot of the important offices are town offices. There’s a joint label to many of the offices, but in all actuality, they are overseen by the town board. That’s important because the feedback I’ve received from the community is that they’re feeling overwhelmed. They were overwhelmed prior to the pandemic, and it’s been accelerated since the pandemic. They feel like they’re being priced out of their homes; Assessments are going up; Short-term rentals are a component of that.”
Leon added that there’s been an influx of wealthy homebuyers from metropolitan areas who are able to purchase homes above asking price, essentially pricing others out.
Leon also said he wants to ensure the joint town-village Climate Smart Communities process moves forward, and the municipalities are able to achieve bronze certification.
“The reason I wanted to run was I wanted to ensure the everyday voice had a seat at the table with the people who are making these decisions and shaping the way our community runs,” he said.
Preston has been on the Lake Placid school board for nine years. Legally, it seems that Preston can stay on the school board while also being on the town council. Asked if he planned to serve on both, Preston said that’ll be “one of those wait-and-see type of things.” He noted that there are a few months between the general election this year and the next school election.
Preston said he believes it’s time for some “fresh blood” on the school board, and that’s what prompted him to look at other ways he could serve the community. He landed on running for town council when he learned that Favro would not run for reelection.
“I decided this was the correct time,” Preston said.
Preston said both he and Leon will bring different insights to the council. Preston said that he’d like to take a look at the town’s finances and see where there are opportunities to grow revenue or cut expenses. He’s also interested in an ongoing water project in Ray Book and is interested in learning more about short-term vacation rentals.
Preston is the director of rehabilitation at the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center, which is under the Adirondack Health umbrella. He’s worked at Adirondack Health for 30 years. In the past, he served for two years on an state Olympic Regional Development Authority advisory board. He’s a Lake Placid native.