LaScala to return to Tupper Lake village board
TUPPER LAKE — Village Mayor Paul Maroun appointed a new member to the village board Monday night — Trustee Ron LaScala, who just wrapped up a three-term stint on the board and thought he was out of politics.
LaScala chose to not run for reelection this year, saying he was tired of politics, the fighting involved with being on the board and the impact the position had on his personal life. But when the mayor asked him, he agreed to return and serve out the final year of an unexpired term. The vacancy was left by former Trustee Clint Hollingsworth, who resigned last month to take his position as the town’s new supervisor after running for that position unopposed.
If LaScala wants to remain on the board after 2022, he’d have to run for reelection next November.
During his reelection campaign this fall, Maroun said he was considering several people for the appointment. On Monday, he said he chose LaScala because he trusts him.
“He’s got the best interests of the community at heart. He knows what’s going on inside and outside of the community,” Maroun said. “I think he brings a dimension to the table, a different look at it.”
Both Maroun and LaScala acknowledged they’ve disagreed periodically on the board and fought sometimes, but both also said they’ve also grown close and learned to work well together.
Before LaScala was elected to the village board in 2015, he attended its meetings as a resident, bringing up issues he thought the village should address and “speaking for the village taxpayer.” LaScala’s introduction to local government was combative at times.
“He’s a little controversial,” Maroun said of LaScala. “But I think we all are in our own little ways.”
Now, LaScala said he considers Maroun a “friend.” He’s also glad David “Haji” Maroun was elected back on the board in November, saying David was instrumental in bringing the Riverpigs baseball team to town.
“I had a lot of fun on the village board,” LaScala said last month. “I feel like I got a lot of things done.”
Apart from being a husband and father, he said being a board member is the most fulfilling thing he’s done in his life. LaScala is glad he’s staying on the board, but hesitated for a second before he said that.
“I love Tupper Lake,” he said. But being in the public eye has frustrated him at times.
He said he’s tired of people accosting him with village issues or things he’s said at board meetings when he’s in public.
He said he’s willing to listen to someone who wants to bring up an issue to him, but when he’s out to dinner with his family, he doesn’t want to debate then. He also said some people have been rude to his family, and said he’s not going to stand for that anymore.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep moving,” LaScala said.
Last month, LaScala said he knew he was one of the considerations for appointment. He said he wasn’t seeking it, but would probably accept if Maroun offered it to him. He was still considering this last week, when he thought over conversations he’s had with people around Tupper Lake — former Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Desmarais, Jim Frenette, Mike Kmack and Joe Hockey. He said the support of these men he’s long respected was “humbling” and sealed the deal for him.
LaScala said he discussed the appointment for a while with his wife and daughters. He thanked them for their support of his political aspirations. Being on the village board is a big time commitment, he said.
LaScala will remain the board’s liaison for the water and sewer department, Maroun said. LaScala said he sees water quality as the biggest issue he wants to tackle in the village.
He said he thinks about the poor water quality when he wakes up and before he goes to bed. He said he’s incredibly frustrated that the village has put so much money into solutions, but hasn’t solved the problem yet. He likened this elusive solution to playing a game of whack-a-mole.
LaScala said he plans to be more “aggressive” on this issue in his next year on the board.