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North Country News

One Candidate Files Petition In Rouses Point Mayoral Race

A marina in Rouses Point
Bryan Smith/Flickr
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A marina in Rouses Point

It’s as far north as you can get in New York, and it will soon be under new leadership.
The 2,200-person village of Rouses Point abuts the Quebec border. Its long-time mayor is retiring and one person submitted a nominating petition to replace him by the filing deadline.

Villagers will go to the polls on March 15th to elect a new mayor and two village  trustees.   Current Mayor George Rivers retired in 2012 after serving as mayor for six two-year terms.  But he took issue with his replacement and won the office back in 2014.  This time, Rivers says there’s a simple reason he’s not running.   “It’s called age.  I’m 80 years old.  I’m too old for this!”

Just one person has filed the paperwork to be on the ballot for mayor: Dan Latourneau.  A member of the Rouses Point Zoning Board, his family is steeped in community service.   “My father having been mayor and also supervisor of the town of Champlain. He was also a local justice.  I kinda grew up seeing that kind of involvement and seeing what a difference an individual working with others can make in their community. And with Mayor Rivers leaving a lot of experience is going with him and there are two other new trustees who will be on the board.  Right now they are unopposed. So there’s going to be three new people on this board.”

For years, Rouses Point was sustained by a 1 million-square foot pharmaceutical manufacturing and research facility.  Wyeth pulled out and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals obtained the facility.  In 2008, Pfizer sold it to Akrimax, but then exercised an option to reaquire it.  Akrimax leased part of the facility for a time and then shut down operations.  Pfizer has continued operations at a reduced level.   Mayor Rivers says it’s a convoluted and complex challenge for the village.   “Pfizer,  there’s a lot of unknowns there still. You know we already saw a big reduction in our assessed valuation which affected our tax rates for this year.  Losing $10 million in assessed valuation they’re going to have to look at serious budget cuts.  Pfizer tore down the chemical development division so they were given a reassessment.  This is a nice little community and it’s got a lot going for it but right now there’s a lot of issues.  We’ve got an aging water plant. The best answer is to build a newer and more modern type.  The board’s going to have to decide.”

Mayoral candidate Latourneau was on the Northeastern Clinton Central School District school board for five years during which he helped manage a $26 million budget with no tax increases.  He worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection coordinating agencies along the northern and southern borders.  He acknowledges the challenges but also points to opportunities.   “I think it’s time to start looking at finding funding to build a new water filtration plant.  I think the rest of our departments are in pretty good shape.  We have two large marinas in our marinas in our village which are just terrific economic engines for tourism and the local businesses.  Many of them are Canadians. They’re the people who are filling our downtown and our streets. You know that’s a terrific help for our economy.”

Villages across New York can hold local elections in March or June.  
 

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