Lake Placid voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose new village leaders. The two candidates vying for mayor recently participated in a virtual debate.
Village elections are being held across New York state on March 16th. In Lake Placid the village will have a new mayor after Craig Randall, who has held the seat for nearly 12 years, announced he would retire. Republican Art Devlin, a village trustee and deputy mayor, is running for mayor against Common Sense Party candidate Jamie Rogers, who served as village mayor from 2005 to 2009.
Moderating a recent virtual debate between the two was Peter Crowley, managing editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. He asked questions targeting the individual candidates. Crowley noted criticism of Devlin during his time as a trustee for spending time during the winter in Florida. “So can you tell us as specifically as you can how much time you might be away from Lake Placid as mayor?”
Art Devlin: “It's interesting that that's been spread around about me with no one ever asking me what my plans were. I’m going to put in whatever the time requires. I also, as long as you're on that vein, would throw that question back. The mayor's job is not a part time position and I question anyone that has a full time job how they're going to do the job of the mayor.
And I'm directing that directly at Jamie who works in Saranac.”
Jamie Rogers: “I'll be a full time mayor and won’t be working in Saranac Lake. I've been there before. You have to be there and you have to be ready.”
Crowley then directed a question to Rogers related to his past experience as village mayor. “During your time as mayor the state comptroller's office audit had criticized the village for use of credit cards and also for the treasurer's mishandling of village funds. How can you assure voters that village funds will be secure with you as mayor?”
Jamie Rogers: “The credit card issue I think got overblown. It did get abused by one department. There's been no criminal abuse whatsoever in any of those.”
Peter Crowley: “Art, would you like to respond to that?”
Art Devlin: “Oh, boy. If anyone reads that 32 page report two times it mentioned recommending to criminal authorities to investigate. Go get ahold of a copy of that comptroller's report and take a look at it. It's pretty damning.”
Lake Placid is a popular spot for vacation and seasonal homes, resulting in high housing prices. Affordable housing has been an issue for years and the mayoral candidates were asked what solutions they have for residents on limited incomes. “There are obviously the three projects. Unfortunately, all three of those programs are in the town. And the village will have nothing more than supply the utilities and hold the town's feet to the fire to make sure they are workforce or full time residents living in those homes. Also, I've been working for the last eight months on the land code review, taking a deep dive into looking at what the village residents really want in the neighborhoods. One of the great things that's coming out of that is something called protected neighborhoods.”
Crowley: “Thank you Art. Jamie?”
Rogers: “I would explore the creation of a land bank to facilitate the acquisition of properties for affordable and workforce housing development.”
The issue of vacation rentals came up during the discussion on affordable housing and a later question asked Devlin and Rogers if new regulations should be changed? Rogers said it has been a frustrating problem for years. “Quite frankly, I see right now not much difference even with the new law. I would stress second homeowners and absentee homeowners, there's a big difference. Second homeowners provide a big benefit to this community. Absentee home homeowners should not be allowed to be in vacation rental business.”
Crowley: “Thank you, Jamie. Art?”
Devlin: “Keep in mind that the current vacation rentals system that's in place took four hard years of work to get in place. It was never meant to be a one and done and it will be a work in progress for years to come. It's a start. And I agree that the biggest culprit we have out there is people that just taking up home spots and never come to Lake Placid. And then I think one thing that's going to be going in that new code is protected neighborhoods and that's going to be one of the biggest things that helps Lake Placid.”
Audio is courtesy of the Lake Placid News and Adirondack Daily Enterprise.