Voters in two local villages have "promoted" their deputy mayors.
In the Saratoga County Village of Stillwater, terms for mayor are traditionally four years, with elections in odd years. But this fall a special election was called, following Mayor Rick Nelson's resignation and subsequent conviction and incarceration on child pornography charges that led to appointment of Trustee Frank Tatum as mayor.
"Frank served one year and he decided that it took a lot more time than he realized because he has a full-time job. He's gone for like 12 hours during the day. He asked me if I would want to do it for the rest of the term." And that, says Mayor-elect Judith Wood-Shaw, is how she came to enter the race in the non-partisan village government, defeating opponent Anthony Schunk by a 3-1 margin on Election Day.
The normal four-year village election cycle will resume in 2019. Wood-Shaw, a retiree who is home during the day, promises in the interim she'll pour her heart into the job as mayor. "You know I'll give it my best shot this year and see what happens next year."
Wood-Shaw is no stranger to local politics. She was a trustee for years before she served as deputy mayor. And she's already been busy with planners. "We're working on public transportation. Actually we're working with the town of Stillwater now on a shared service thing. We also are in the process of making some major upgrades and renovations to our Legion Park."
In Schenectady County the village of Scotia's Deputy Mayor, Democrat Tom Gifford, defeated Republican Loretta Rigney by some 500 votes Tuesday. Gifford says the place is evenly divided between the two major parties. "It's a nice town to live in. I've been a resident for 37 years. It's been my home and one my volunteer activities, I've been a volunteer fireman in the village for the last 37 years, and, for the last 10 years I've been on the village board helping the current mayor, who is retiring."
Gifford replaces Democrat-turned-Independent Kris Kastberg, who decided not to run after serving 12 years as mayor.
Gifford says he is already at work on an agenda. "Well we have four union contracts coming up pretty soon, so that'll be fun. I've never worked on that. I'm expecting to tap into the old mayor's knowledge quite a lot. I know almost all the village employees and basically, that's what Scotia does, it's service. The village has people who serve the community's needs in terms of fire, police and public works, parks. Far as I can tell, and I've had a lot of exposure to a lot of them, they're all good people, doing a good job for the village, and that's what they're interested in."
Gifford takes office December 1, Wood-Shaw on December 3.