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Saranac Lake trustee candidates square off in forum

Four make pitch for votes in March 20 election

Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees candidates Mark Gillis, Paul Van Cott, Barbara Rice and Jeff Branch at the Meet the Candidates Forum at the Harrietstown Town Hall March 12.

Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees candidates Mark Gillis, Paul Van Cott, Barbara Rice and Jeff Branch at the Meet the Candidates Forum at the Harrietstown Town Hall March 12. Photo by Daniel E. Alexander.

— He said residents deserve a village board that knows Saranac Lake, brings the strongest possible skills and “can get things done.”

Barbara Rice is the co-owner of Rice Furniture in Saranac Lake. She comes from a family who has been active in business and politics in this village for generations.

“It’s with a strong sense of community commitment, responsibility and pride that I’ve entered the race for village trustee,” Rice said. “I have the right combination of community understanding, analytical skill, and practical knowledge to be a strong and positive voice on the village board.”

She said that attracting and sustaining employment is a challenging issue and one that Saranac Lake is not facing alone.

“Our ability to compete for good employers and to expand the existing tax base is essential is we are to continue to thrive as a community,” Rice said.

Jeff Branch is the only incumbent running for village trustee and is counting on his experience and record on the village board to get re-elected.

“I think one of the things that really brings us our success to this current village board is the makeup,” Branch said. “There are no political quorums. There’s two Republicans, two Democrats and one Conservative. This leads to discussion. This leads to talk. This leads to good decision making.”

Branch credited Mayor Clyde Rabideau for leading the village board.

“But, to me, it’s also about the makeup of the board, and I really would like people to consider that as we move forward, about keeping the balance and keeping the forward progress,” Branch said.

Double taxation

The panel asked: When both the village and town help fund community organizations — such as the Chamber of Commerce, Winter Carnival Committee, Adult Center and Youth Center — do you see that as double taxation or double supporting?

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