Village residents will shape the future of their communities with votes today, especially in Champlain.
That village is the latest one in our area where residents have a choice of continuing government as it is now or dissolving the village and being absorbed by a town.
In the past year, people who live in the Village of Malone have rejected the idea, while residents of Keeseville chose dissolution.
The issue in Malone was complicated by the fact that the village has a police force, which would have disappeared with dissolution.
Although Keeseville and Champlain have fewer services, dissolution decisions still require voters to weigh costs against what the government provides. Community pride is usually a factor in these votes, as well.
A “yes” vote today in Champlain would require the village to start taking steps toward dissolution, including a formal plan to end governance and have the Town of Champlain take over.
A “no” vote today would bar further investigation of dissolution for four years.
If dissolution is approved, the only way it can be halted is for residents to get together a petition that forces another public referendum.
Opponents would have 45 days from the day the Village Board approves a dissolution plan to collect signatures from 25 percent of registered voters. That is not easily done. It hasn’t happened in Keeseville, and a New York State Conference of Mayors official who spoke in Champlain recently said the process is “inherently undemocratic” and weighted toward not allowing a second vote because the state wants villages to dissolve.
So a great deal rides on today’s vote in Champlain.
The only other village with big decisions to make today is Lake Placid. Mayor Craig Randall and Village Justice Bill Hushoff are running unopposed, but residents have two trustees to seat. The candidates are Art Devlin, David Jones and Scott Monroe. The two who get the most votes win.
People will also step into voting booths in Rouses Point, Port Henry, Dannemora, Burke and Chateaugay, but all the elections in those villages are uncontested. We hope residents will still turn out; voting is the hallmark of American government — and a way to show you care about your community.
Complicating all the votes today will be a big snowstorm that will likely already have started by the time you read this. The snow is supposed to continue throughout the day, depositing 6 to 10 inches on the North Country.
It’s unfortunate that it is hitting on an election day. Sometimes even a little rain or cold temperatures can keep ambivalent voters from going to the polls. We fear that normally low village turnout might be worse today due to the storm.
We trust the public-works departments will make sure residents have an easy ride to the polls today so they have a chance to weigh in on these important decisions.