ELIZABETHTOWN - Two supervisors' bids for leadership positions on the Essex County Board of Supervisors will apparently become reality as their competitors have decided to drop out of the race.
The term of current board chairwoman Cathy Moses expires Jan. 1, and the board will convene to elect a new leader at the annual organizational meeting on Jan. 4.
Essex Supervisor Ron Jackson, currently the vice chairman, would have been next in line for the position, but failed to win re-election for 2010.
Two names had emerged as likely candidates for the new board chair: Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, a Republican, and Democratic Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas.
As of Jan. 1, Republicans will hold a 10 to five edge over Democrats on the 18-member board.
But Scozzafava withdrew his name from consideration Dec. 8 after failing to gain the support of most of his fellow Republicans.
Westport Supervisor Dan Connell was running for vice chair along with Scozzafava. Much of Scozzafava's support was reportedly from board Democrats.
"I knew that I would probably be a long shot when I decided to seek the seat," Scozzafava said Dec. 7. "I am not good at biting my tongue, so it may be best if I wasn't seated in that chair."
In 2002, Scozzafava unsuccessfully challenged Teresa Sayward for the 113th District state Assembly seat, but did however manage to pull the support of several prominent county Republicans.
Chair of the county finance committee, Scozzafava has publicly butted heads with Republican County Manager Dan Palmer. He also fervently supported District Attorney Julie Garcia in her failed re-election bid against GOP nominee Kristy Sprague, a divisive issue among Republicans.
According to Republican St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency, the vast majority of GOP support has been behind Douglas.
"I think it somewhat boils down to the recent election and Tom's support of Garcia," Morency said.
In his run for chair of the board, Douglas teamed up with Republican North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi, who was elected in 2007 after running as an independent. Politi is the candidate for vice chair.
"It's crucial that party lines work together to reach goals that will benefit Essex County constituents," said Douglas.
Douglas said he and Politi waited until after the count of absentee and military ballots had been finalized to announce their intention to run. They did so out of respect for Jackson, who lost a close race to challenger Sharon Boisen.
Politi, formerly the mayor of Lake Placid, was recently re-elected to his second term as supervisor. He has renewed his call for the sale of the county-owned Horace Nye Nursing Home - a $4 million annual expense.
Douglas was recently appointed to the executive committee of the New York State Association of Counties. He is chair of the county transportation sub-committee and was highly involved in the rerouting of the county public transportation system following the closure of the Champlain Bridge.
The Douglas family has a long history of holding elected office in Jay. Douglas' father, Thomas A. Douglas, served as Jay supervisor from 1972-80 and from 1998-2000. His grandfather, Arthur J. Douglas, served as Jay supervisor from 1966-72. All were Democrats.
"Six years ago I was not prepared to be chairman of this board," said Douglas, "but I am now ready and able to serve the people of Essex County to the best of my ability."
WNBZ reporter Jon Alexander contributed to this report