Steve Erman, standing, endorses Paul Van Cott for trustee candidate in the March 20 village election during the Jan. 30 Saranac Lake Democratic Committee caucus at the Harrietstown Town Hall. Erman, now retired, had worked with Van Cott, an attorney, at the Adirondack Park Agency. Van Cott and Barbara Rice were chosen to run for the two open four-year seats on the Village Board. Van Cott is sitting at far right.
More than 30 members of the Saranac Lake Democratic Committee Monday, Jan. 30 chose two village trustee candidates for the spring election and endorsed one justice candidate across party lines.
Democrats unanimously approved the nominations of Paul Van Cott and Barbara Rice to run in the village election on March 20. They hope to fill the seats currently occupied by Republicans Jeff Branch and John McEneaney. They are four-year terms.
Rice, the owner of Rice Furniture, was on a business trip and could not make the caucus. Instead, a brief statement was read on her behalf:
“I am extremely excited and enthusiastic about running for Village Board,” she said. “As a downtown business owner and native Saranac Laker, I will offer a fresh and relevant perspective to the board. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”
Van Cott has been an attorney for 25 years, including 11 years at the Adirondack Park Agency and time working for the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Attorney General’s Office. He hopes to bring new energy and strong skills to the Village Board while making Saranac Lake a better place to live, starting with good streets, safe sidewalks and clean water.
“There are great things happening in Saranac Lake, and I believe this is an important time to elect new Village Board members,” Van Cott said. “We have positive momentum and need the best possible Village Board to help build on it. That is why I am running for trustee now.”
Van Cott’s top priority is economic development.
“I bet you’d never hear that from an environmental lawyer,” he said. “Economic development is one of the keys to Saranac Lake’s future.”
Van Cott said he would work on behalf of the business community, naming Trudeau Institute, Adirondack Management Association, North Country Community College, Paul Smith’s College and the Saranac Lake Central School District as important economic institutions that help make Saranac Lake “unique among Adirondack communities.”
“Lastly, to the Hotel Saranac, I am committed to helping in any way to return you to your proper place at the center of our community,” he said.
Van Cott’s second goal is to lower taxes, specifically by trying to reduce or eliminate double taxation generated by the three towns within village limits: Harrietstown, St. Armand and North Elba.
“Saranac Lakers should not pay taxes for services that we do not receive,” he said.
Currently, Saranac Lake Democratic Committee Chair Tom Catillaz is the only Democratic village trustee. If elected, Rice and Van Cott would join Catillaz and Elias Pelletieri, a Conservative, at the board table with Mayor Clyde Rabideau, a Democrat.
The Republicans hold their caucus at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Harrietstown Town Hall, and the Conservatives hold their caucus afterward, at 7:45 p.m., in the village offices on the second floor of the Town Hall.
Democrats also approved Mayor Rabideau’s motion to cross party lines and endorse Justice Ken McLaughlin, of the Conservative Party, for a two-year term. In a move to consolidate the legal system, the village will be eliminating McLaughlin’s position in April; therefore, he will be running to fill the unexpired justice position vacated by Tom Glover when he retired in 2011. The village will eliminate that position when it expires in two years, handing over the justice system to the towns of Harrietstown, St. Armand and North Elba.