Who’s running for office in Essex County?
November ballot shakes out as final deadlines to file pass
LAKE PLACID — The list of candidates running for election in Essex County towns this November has been solidified with the passing of the final deadline for independent candidates to file their paperwork. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The county’s primary election is on June 27. For voters in North Elba, Keene, Jay and Wilmington, the only thing on the primary ballot will be the county clerk race. Deputy County Clerk Chelsea Merrihew, who is currently serving as interim county clerk after longtime county Clerk Joseph Provancha retired last year, is running on the Republican line against Republican Stephanie DeZalia, who is currently the town supervisor of North Hudson. More information about the primary, including early voting times and dates, is available on the Essex County Board of Elections’ website at essexcountyny.gov/board-of-elections.
In North Elba, town Supervisor Derek Doty is running uncontested for reelection this November. The last time the town had an uncontested race for supervisor was in 2013, when longtime incumbent Supervisor Roby Politi was running for reelection.
North Elba voters will also elect two town councilors, a town clerk and a superintendent of highways in this year’s election.
Doty, who earned his supervisor seat in November 2021 after serving as a town councilor for around 18 years, said he’s still got a few irons in the fire that he’d like to see through.
Doty is leading two water projects in the town of Ray Brook: Installing a new water tank to serve Ray Brook residents and creating a new water system for the prisons in Ray Brook — Federal Correctional Institute and Adirondack Correctional Facility — that he hopes will bring in new revenue for the town. Doty also wants to help Lake Placid Airport manager Steve Short, who’s planning to retire, to find a new lessee for the airport.
Reassessing the town’s lease with the state Olympic Regional Development Authority is also on Doty’s to-do list. That includes “better defining” what the town’s annual financial contribution to the authority will be, according to Doty. This past year, the town allocated $500,000 to the authority.
“There’s good relations on both sides, so there’s no real contention,” Doty said. “It’s just a matter of reevaluating the lease now that it’s 44 years old.”
Also up for election in North Elba are two town councilors seats. incumbents Emily Kilburn Politi, a Democrat, and Dick Cummings, a Republican, are running for reelection against challenger Republican Edward Borden. There will likely be a fourth candidate for North Elba Town Council, too: Saranac Lake resident Fred Balzac, who lives in the part of the village within North Elba town boundaries. Balzac has run for public office seven times in various municipalities.
The North Elba Democratic Committee held a caucus last week and nominated Doty, Kilburn Politi and Balzac as their Democratic candidates for supervisor and town council, respectively. But the caucus forms were never filed with the Essex County Board of Elections, according to the Board of Elections Democratic Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Fifield. While Doty and Kilburn Politi filed independent petitions that qualified them for candidacy outside of the caucus, Fifield said Balzac did not file an independent petition.
The democratic committee has until July 27 to submit their caucus forms and get Balzac on the ballot, according to Fifield. North Elba Democratic Committee Co-Chair Sue Semegram said her committee is planning to submit the caucus forms well before that deadline.
The town’s polling place for voting districts 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 is changing this year. Polling will take place at the Shipman Youth Center at 61 Cummings Road instead of the North Elba Town Hall due to reported challenges to voting at the town hall, according to the county Board of Elections — namely, a lack of parking there. The Shipman Youth Center has “significantly more parking” available for voters, according to the Board of Elections, and voting at the youth center will have the added benefit of providing a centralized voting location. At the North Elba Town Hall, some district voters had to vote upstairs while other districts voted downstairs.
Voters in North Elba’s second voting district will continue to vote at the Saranac Lake Town House on River Street this year.
Keene voters will elect two town councilors and a town clerk this November.
Incumbent Republican town Clerk Anna Whitney, who was appointed as clerk after former clerk Kimberly Smith resigned this past November, is running for election unopposed. Now Smith, a Republican, is one of four people — including incumbent Democrat Chris Daly, Democrat Ann Hough and Republican Ryan Hall — running for Keene’s two town council seats.
The two town councilor seats up for election currently belong to David Deyoe, whose term is set to end this year, and Daly, who was appointed to finish former Councilor Jennifer Whitney’s term after she resigned from the board this past September. Jennifer Whitney and Smith both cited board conflicts as their reasons for resigning from their positions.
While Jennifer Whitney’s term was set to end this year, Smith’s term was set to end in 2025. If elected this November, Anna Whitney would be finishing Smith’s unexpired term rather than serving a full term.
Wilmington will have contested elections for town supervisor and two town councilor seats this November.
Current town Councilor Tim Follos, a Democrat, will run for supervisor against Favor Smith on the independent “Honesty” line. Republican Roy Holzer, the town’s current supervisor and a former town councilor, has decided not to run for office again. If Follos loses the race for town supervisor, according to Fifield, he could still retain his seat on the town council.
Four people are vying for the two town councilor seats: Laura Dreissigacker-Hooker, who is running on the independent “For Wilmington” line, as well as incumbent Republican Darin Forbes, incumbent Michelle Preston — who’s running on the independent “Community First” line — and Forest Winch, who is running on the independent “People’s” line. Preston was appointed by Holzer to fill former Councilor Paula McGreevy’s seat this past August after McGreevy resigned earlier that month. McGreevy and Forbes’ terms are set to expire this year.
Two candidates will run unopposed for two assessor positions on the ballot in Wilmington — incumbent Republican Alphonso Smith and independent candidate Devan Korn, an environmental program specialist with the Adirondack Park Agency. Current assessor Marcel Bruce, whose term ends this year, is not running for reelection.
In the town of Jay, three candidates will run unopposed for two town council seats and a town justice spot.
Incumbent Councilor Tom McDonald, a Republican who currently serves as the deputy town supervisor, is running for reelection. Democrat Olivia Dwyer, who lost a contested election for Jay Town Council in 2021, is running for council again this year. The town councilor seats are currently held by McDonald and Councilor Adam Coolidge.
Republican Patrick Devlin is running unopposed for the town justice seat that currently belongs to Daniel Deyoe.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Favor Smith, a candidate in the town of Wilmington’s town supervisor race this coming November, is running for election on the Republican party line. Smith is running on the independent “Honesty” line. The Enterprise regrets the error.