LAKE GEORGE - The village board will feature a new member as a result of an upset vote last week which unseated two-term Lake George Village Trustee Marisa Muratori.
Political newcomer Joe Mastrodomenico Jr. was the top vote-getter March 18 in a three-way competition for two board seats.
Mastrodomenico received 157 votes, incumbent trustee John Root received 134 and Muratori received 128.
Mastrodomenico, 45, a free-lancer who works in property maintenance and newspaper delivery, said he was stunned by the results. His four-year term begins Wednesday.
"When the results came in, I was in shock," Mastrodomenico said. "I was definitely surprised and taken aback."
Mastrodomenico said he ramped up his campaigning in the final two days before the election, phoning area residents and knocking on doors through the village.
"A lot of people didn't realize the election was coming up, or they forgot about it," he said. "I concentrated on reminding them to vote, whether it was for me or not."
Muratori also said she was surprised with the election outcome.
"John (Root) and I miscalculated just how popular this guy is - he beat me soundly," she said.
Muratori said she had made phone calls and sent out a mailing, but that her campaigning could have been more extensive.
"I loved my job as village trustee, but the game of politics is not something I relish," she said. "I don't feel bad about this, because apparently this is what the people wanted."
Muratori said she'll miss her work on beautifying the village, helping steer future development and promoting sustainable gardening practices locally.
"Clearly the people have spoken," she said. "Life goes on."
Mastrodomenico has served on the Lake George Town Planning Board, where he's advocated sensible development balanced with the interests of year-round citizens, he said.
He ran for village mayor in 2003, but was defeated by Robert Blais, who's a mayor with one of the longest tenures in the state.
Last week, Warren County leaders voted unanimously to save two buildings from demolition at Gaslight Village and develop them for use by community members and event producers. The decision was in line with the plans of Lake George Supervisor Louis Tessier.
Mayor Blais, however has advocated demolition.
Over the past year, Blais and Tessier, one the top village official and the other the town's top leader, have crossed swords over this issue, and their followers have argued and launched accusations at one another.
Mastrodomenico said Sunday that if elected, he'd like to quell the discord and work towards collaboration between the village and town.
"I definitely would like to help develop a kinship between the two municipalities," he said. "Whether we're in the town or the village, were still the community of Lake George."
As for the Gaslight buildings, he'd like to help start a process, among both town and village officials, of planning for appropriate uses, including reserving some of the space for a teen center and a place to host community events.
"I definitely want to see year-round, community use of the buildings," he said.
Mastrodomenico also repeated a campaign pledge that he'd like to help resolve the questions of how to deal with the Village's debt, a vexing issue if village citizens vote for dissolution.
Also, he said he'd like to boost tourism, particularly on the off-season.
Root said he was surprised to see the initial machine vote total show a 110-110 tie between Muratori and himself in second place, trailing Mastrodomenico.
"The machine was opened and I was shocked," he said. "The results were unfortunate because Marisa devoted a lot of time and talent to the village, and she made a lot of valuable contributions."
Root, however, offered congratulations to Mastrodomenico.
"Joe's well-liked and active in the community, and he'll be an asset going forward," Root said.