LAKE GEORGE - The longest-tenured mayor in New York State has decided that neither prostate cancer nor the urge for more leisure time will keep him from running for office for a 11th four-year term.
The ever-popular Mayor of Lake George, Robert Blais, has been at the helm of the village government since 1971, after serving as a village Trustee since 1968.
And Monday, he said he will be running for at least another term. As of Tuesday, no one else had picked up petitions to run against him in the March election.
Several weeks ago, Blais said he had put his re-election plans in limbo while he awaited details on his recent diagnosis of prostate cancer - and the rigors of the treatment he was likely to undergo.
"I've met with my doctors, started treatment, and I feel positive everything's going to be okay," he said. Blais added he has started a daily regimen - minus weekends - of radiation and hormone treatments, that lasts nine weeks.
"They are nothing to take lightly, and the doctors are hoping the treatments do what is necessary," he said.
Blais said he's running for re-election because his health prospects are good and he's eager to oversee various projects to completion.
One of those projects is the West Brook Environmental Park, under development for about two decades, but now approaching construction. The plans call for a park with engineered wetlands that purify stormwater, while offering nature trails, a festival grounds, and walkways that promote environmental awareness.
"This is a project I'm proud to be an initiator of," he said. "I've been so passionate about it and involved in its development, I want to see it through until the first person walks down over one of its pathways."
Blais also said he wants to oversee the promotion and management of the park's 2.5-acre festival space, as well as the streetscape enhancement on the west side of Canada St., and an effort to upgrade the village sewer plant.
Blais said that prior to his cancer diagnosis about four weeks ago, he had sold his business of 37 years, Fun World amusement center. The sale affords him extra time to devote to meeting the challenges facing all municipalities, including containing expenses and dealing with ever-tightening state and federal mandates and an uncertain economy.
But the village, he said, is in far better shape than other municipalities across the state in meeting those challenges, as the village is financially solid with an A bond rating, $1.7 million in surplus funds, yet has only increased taxes in seven out of the last 10 years - and by an average of only 1.9 percent year-over-year.
Blais said he'd like to extend his tenure so he's indisputably one of the longest-serving mayors in state history.
"I want to continue my journey as Lake George's mayor," he said. "And while some people might support term limits, in our community, no one is knocking down doors to take over the mayor's job."