Two familiar faces vie for North Elba town super
LAKE PLACID — Two familiar faces are in the running in the town’s lone contested race this year. North Elba town Supervisor Jay Rand is running against longtime town Councilor Derek Doty — again.
Rand, running on the Republican line, and Doty, running on the Democratic line, have both been involved in town boards and committees for more than 20 years each. Rand and Doty ran against one another in 2019 for the town supervisor seat after longtime supervisor Roby Politi retired. Doty also ran against Politi in 2011.
Doty said he’s heard some residents say it’s great that he and Rand want to continue serving the town, but that’s often followed by, “but you’ve all been here so damn long.” But both local officials say they have their reasons for running for a term as supervisor.
There are two town council seats and one town justice seat also up for election in North Elba this year. Lake Placid Village Trustee Jason Leon, who is term-limited from running for village board again, is seeking a seat on the town council on the Democratic and North Elba United lines. Richard Preston, who is currently the president of the Lake Placid school board, is running for a town council seat on the Republican and Team Work party lines. Both Leon and Preston are unopposed. The two seats open are currently held by town councilor Jack Favro, who is not running for re-election, and Doty, who is running for supervisor.
Dean Dietrich, the incumbent town justice, is running for reelection unopposed.
Ski jumping has been a part of Rand’s life since he was a kid. He joined the Lake Placid Junior Ski Jumping Team at 6 years old and competed in the Olympic Winter Games in 1968 at 17 years old. He worked with the Olympic Regional Development Authority as the general manager of the ski jumping complex and the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, and he served as executive director for the New York Ski Educational Foundation. He’s still a registered NYSEF coach, and he said he coaches kids in ski jumping when he can. Rand was also on the 1980 Olympic Organizing Committee.
Given his history, Rand said the upcoming 2023 World University Games hold special meaning to him and he wants to serve as supervisor during that time.
Rand said he has been preparing for the 2023 winter games since he traveled with a local group to Kazakhstan in 2017 to see if the games would be a good fit for Lake Placid. He’s been involved in getting the Olympic facilities up to date for the games, and he said what’s been done so far is “outstanding.”
Doty, who lives in Ray Brook, has been a town councilor since 2003, during which time he said he’s been involved in “virtually everything,” including the Franklin Town Council, the Saranac Lake school board, the St. Bernard’s School Education Council and the Civic Center board. He was also an independent butcher for several years, running Doty’s Country Road Beef in Saranac Lake.
Doty said his duties as councilor have picked up considerably since the pandemic started. He acts as the town board liaison on several committees, including the landfill, park district, code enforcement and highway committees.
“Everyone knows I’m dedicated to a fault — I’m a workaholic,” he said.
Doty said town government is his passion, but he’s turning 65 in December. Because he’s doing so much these days, he said he either wants to step up into the supervisor role or focus on his property management company, Doty Property Management.
Their important issues
Rand said that the most pressing issue he sees as supervisor, and a member of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, is staffing, which ties into the need for more affordable housing in the area. He was appointed as the head of the county’s committee for Recruitment and Retention, and he said there are 45 jobs the county can’t fill. He’s in support of affordable housing projects like the Fawn Valley and Regan Development complexes being built, and he said the county is looking into creating an affordable daycare center in Elizabethtown.
Doty said one of his top priorities is to continue the COVID-19 safety practices implemented by the town to keep residents safe. He also said the new housing projects on West Valley Road, Fawn Valley and Mackenzie Outlook, plus the Peaks at Lake Placid development on Old Barn Road, are important to him. He said he had plans to present an “out of the box” idea to the Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board Wednesday, Oct. 20 that would help with long term rentals in the area.
Doty also mentioned staffing issues at the local and county levels, and he said that a shortage of COVID-19 trackers in the county Health Department and new doctors in the area is creating a “healthcare crisis,” since he believes many local doctors are hitting retirement age. He said he’s heard some suggestions about bringing in doctors from other countries to alleviate the issue, and he’s in support of that.
“But first, we need housing to put them up,” he said.
Other voter issues
Both candidates spoke on voter concerns about the Ironman triathlon and short-term rentals in the area.
In recent months, there’s been some debate over whether or not Ironman should continue in Lake Placid because Ironman’s contract with the town, village and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism came up for renewal. An Ironman Task Force Committee was created to address concerns over businesses’ losses, driveway blockages, roadway violations by cyclists and other issues some residents brought forward. Some residents online, and in the task force, have even complained about human waste showing up in their yards around race day.
Both candidates said they’re in favor of keeping the race for the revenue it brings to the area, but they said that doesn’t mean they’re opposed to making some necessary changes. Rand and Doty said they’d be willing to limit the number of competitors to control the race’s scope, and Doty said he’s willing to listen to suggestions for altering race dates. Rand said that he might consider installing more outhouses along the race track to address waste issues.
When it comes to short-term rentals in the area, both candidates said they were in favor of the rentals and the new regulations for them, but they agreed there’s room for more alterations to those regulations. Rand and Doty agreed that the town-village short-term vacation rental law has helped address residents’ concerns by imposing new safety and occupancy regulations and providing added income to “host renters,” but both see short-term rental problems as more of a village issue.
Doty said he’s convinced he lost the last election because of his support of short term-rentals, but he said he’s in favor of keeping short-term rentals where they belong, like at the Whiteface Lodge. He understands that residents want residential neighborhoods to be preserved, but he believes that zoning solutions would have to be taken up with the village. He said the short-term rental law still needs work when it comes to the number of days a place can be rented — that’s 120 days for the town and 90 days for the village — but he said those problems can’t be solved overnight. Doty and Rand said the Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund received from taxes on those rentals — as a result of the county increasing the occupancy tax by 2% in 2020 — is an important consideration in keeping short-term rentals.
North Elba residents can cast an early vote for supervisor from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31 at the Lake Placid Beach House on Parkside Drive. Early voting hours are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this weekend, noon to 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 26, noon to 8 p.m. on Oct. 27th, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 2.