Watch North Elba supervisor candidate forum on Facebook

It’s a big year for local elections, and the biggest of all, in the Tri-Lakes area, is in the town of North Elba, which includes the village of Lake Placid, part of the village of Saranac Lake and the hamlet of Ray Brook.

Of course, the other local races are also very important to the people of those towns. You may have already read some of our stories about those candidates, and rest assured, there will be more coverage to come.

But the North Elba races affect more people on a regional level. There are three reasons why:

First of all, these races have the most competition: four candidates for town supervisor and six for two seats on the town council.

Second, at roughly 9,000 year-round residents, North Elba has the biggest population of any town in the Tri-Lakes area or in Essex County, as well as the biggest economic impact since it is home to Lake Placid’s massive tourism industry.

Third, because of its population and because Essex County has a board of supervisors with weighted voting, the North Elba supervisor has the most policy-making power of any elected official in the county.

Why are there so many candidates this time around, when past North Elba elections have been quieter affairs? The short-term rental issue clearly has people fired up, as does the related issue of affordable housing. The current town board is seeking to regulate short-term rentals, and there are many strong opinions about that.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, we will have all four candidates for North Elba supervisor together at our office to answer questions and discuss the issues. We will do a Facebook Live video of the forum that you can watch live or afterward on the Lake Placid News Facebook page. The Enterprise will link to it from our social media. We will also have a reporter write an account of the event for the next day’s Enterprise and next week’s Lake Placid News.

We wanted to host a public debate or two. People in North Elba have asked us to do so, and we agree this year’s election deserves it. But we just couldn’t pull it off. We were short-staffed during August and September, and mid October was here before we knew it. Those are lame excuses, but nevertheless we found ourselves in a situation where we had to decide what we could do and what we couldn’t, given the limited time remaining. It was too late to line up a public venue and deal with applications and insurance and PA systems and chairs, but we could do the same kind of thing at our office more easily. It’s not ideal, but you do the best you can with what you have at the time.

Apologies aside, we think this will be valuable in helping voters get to know the candidates and make these big decisions. We hope you are able to watch and/or read.

Early voting begins Saturday in Essex and Franklin counties. You have to go to Lewis or Malone to do it. The hours are printed here.

Oct. 31 will be the deadline to submit election-related letters to the editor. Please keep them under our 500-word limit, and we should be able to get them all in before Election Day, Nov. 5.

Please use the Enterprise and News to learn about about the candidates, and then please make sure to vote.

Early voting hours

Essex County Public Safety Building, Lewis

• Saturday, Oct. 26: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday, Oct. 27: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Monday, Oct. 28: 12 to 8 p.m.

• Tuesday, Oct. 29: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Wednesday, Oct. 30: noon to 8 p.m.

• Thursday, Oct. 31: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Friday, Nov. 1: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Saturday, Nov. 2: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday, Nov. 3: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Franklin County Courthouse, Malone

• Saturday, Oct. 26: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday, Oct. 27: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Monday, Oct. 28: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Tuesday, Oct. 29: noon to 8 p.m.

• Wednesday, Oct. 30: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Thursday, Oct. 31: noon to 8 p.m.

• Friday, Nov. 1: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Saturday, Nov. 2: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday, Nov. 3: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.