Ron Vanselow and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed attended the Mathew Brady marker dedication Nov. 10 at the Wevertown Community Center.
After trying his hand in jobs all around town, Ron Vanselow has settled on the town supervisor seat, though he doesn't expect to make a career out of it.
“I'll serve at the pleasure of the people,” he said following his election to the seat Nov. 8. “I like to think that at some point I'll kick back, but I suspect I wouldn't be able to do that for long.”
Vanselow was born in Pennsylvania and mostly raised in North Carolina. His grandfather was a methodist minister who built a cabin in Johnsburg. That family-crafted cottage was the site of frequent visits by his family as a child.
He and his wife decided to settle in the town and raised their three kids here. His offspring all graduated from Johnsburg Central and still live in the area.
A resident of the hamlet of Johnsburg, Vanselow moved to town in 1987 and started work at T.C. Murphy Lumber in Wevertown. He followed that up with stints at Johnsburg Central, Gore's ski shop and a group home in Indian Lake.
“I like to mix it up and do different things,” he said.
Around '89 and '90, Vanselow started looking for ways to be more involved in his community. He was part of the committee that implemented the town's first recycling system, and he helped fight and defeat a landfill proposal. In '93 he joined the local planning board, and in '97 became the zoning officer.
Also during the '90s, he spent a number of years on the town rescue squad, eventually as Johnsburg's first paramedic. Becoming a paramedic requires a high level of training, though Vanselow wasn't very interested in cultivating job skills in the position.
“It was never a career,” said Vanselow, “It was something I wanted to do for the community.”
He said he's held a lot of jobs in his time, “but in the last couple decades, the thing that's stayed constant is my commitment to the community.”
It's been said around town, including at the meet the candidate events prior to the election, that Johnsburg runs on volunteers. Vanselow said his efforts for the town aren't particularly exemplary.
“I never looked at myself as some kind of shining example,” he said.
The fire departments and community involvement committees are integral to the town, said Vanselow. He doesn't feel he's going above and beyond, he's just doing his part, he said.
Though his community involvement seems run-of-the-mill to him, he'd like to make a special effort to encourage citizens' involvement in town politics.
His plan to move the supervisor's office to the front of Town Hall reflects his philosophy that government should be open and accessible. He's planning to have a public schedule so people have a good idea of when they'll be able to catch him in the office.
He'll have county meetings and plans to work with economic development, but his available time should be public and easy to find, he said.
Vanselow has said he'd like to make sure committee assignments play to the strengths of his town board members, but with his seat becoming vacant, there will be a couple of new faces to get to know before he's ready to make his decisions.
A lot of townspeople aren't big on attending town meetings, so careful committee assignments will hopefully get more people talking to town officials and make big decisions as informed as possible, said Vanselow.
During his campaign, he talked about creating an economic development council to identify opportunities for the town and do what can be done from the town government to maximize those opportunities.
“We have to show that we're capable of grabbing opportunity when it comes our way and monetizing it,” he said.
The tourism industry is important to Johnsburg, said Vanselow, and he wants to do what he can to make sure the town's taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the train, Gore and outdoor recreation around town.
A sustainable economy for Johnsburg could also include office jobs with telecommuting, which would be greatly helped by increasing the local internet speeds. The town's contract with Frontiernet will be up soon, and Vanselow has said that he'd like to renegotiate the agreement to include broadband development.
“Our job is not necessarily to create opportunities, but to assist them as they come along,” he said.
Though he has great interest in participating in the county board of supervisors, especially the tourism committee, he's not going in there to rock the boat too much.
“I'm not going in as some wild-eyed renegade looking to change the board,” he said.