Press-Republican

December 11, 2013

Douglas seeks to helm county again

By LOHR McKINSTRY Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas is seeking an unparalleled fifth term heading county government next year.

Douglas (D-Jay) seems to have the support of many of his fellow members of the Board of Supervisors — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.

No other candidate for the one-year post has announced an intention to run.

JAN. 6 VOTE

Douglas said he is asking the other 17 supervisors to vote for him as chairman at the board’s organizational meeting, set for 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 6, in the Old County Courthouse at Elizabethtown.

Under the board’s previous customary procedures, a supervisor would serve as chair for two one-year terms, then was replaced by the vice chair.

But because Douglas had been doing what many perceived as an excellent job at the helm, some supervisors asked him to run for a third term as chair, then a fourth and now a fifth.

No other supervisor in at least 40 years had served more than two years as chair, according to county records.

Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) is also running for re-election as vice chair.

Douglas recently sent supervisors an email asking for their support.

“Although we may all disagree, at times, I know each and every one of you will honestly vote for what you feel is best in your hearts,” Douglas wrote.

“Both Bill and I have been honored to serve as your leaders these last few years. I have already reached out to all the newly elected supervisors and promise to help them in any way I can to make their transitions into town and county supervisors successful.”

FUNDING PROJECTS

Douglas pointed to the reconstruction of the 8-mile Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, slated to start in the spring, as something they lobbied hard for and won from the state on behalf of the county and the Town of Wilmington.

“We were able to secure funding for the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway’s much needed repairs,” he said.

“I always say to (Community Development Director) Mike Mascarenas, ‘You make the snowballs and apply (for the grants), and Bill and I will throw them and lobby as hard as possible to receive the funding.’

“Together, we have made great strides in working together in a bipartisan way for the betterment of Essex County’s future.”

He and Ferebee will continue to work just as hard in 2014 if they’re re-elected, Douglas said.

“We have been very successful in securing funding for many projects in Essex County, such as infrastructure improvements and consolidation projects.

“We have also been assisting in towns securing grant funds for water and sewer projects, land classifications or assisting with FEMA (flood) recovery funds.”

SUPPORTIVE

Douglas said he discussed a fourth term with his family — wife, Peggy; daughter, Savannah; and son, Shane — and they support his bid to continue.

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), who chairs the County Finance Committee, said he is backing Douglas for another term.

“Absolutely, I will support him. Randy has done a difficult job and done it well. He’s established good relations at the state and federal levels. He gets it done.”

Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba), who holds the most weighted votes under the county’s vote system for the Board of Supervisors, said he’s also behind Douglas for another term.

“Why wouldn’t I support him? He’s done a great job.”

In his past stint as chair, Douglas led the Board of Supervisors in recovery from flooding due to Tropical Storm Irene, through demolition and replacement of the Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont and as they fended off closure of the Moriah State Shock Incarceration Facility.

“I am also very thankful to have the support of the Jay elected and appointed public officials, as well as the Board of Supervisors staff, who day in and out go above and beyond to help make my job as chairman much easier,” Douglas said.

“Honestly, the duties of chairman have changed with these tough fiscal times, and it is very time consuming, but I assure (everyone) we are up to the challenges ahead.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com