Both men agree that North Elba, which includes the village of Lake Placid and part of Saranac Lake, has weathered the last several years fairly well, and they share a similar vision for the town's future. But there's still a lot at stake as the supervisor's seat also carries tremendous sway in Essex County government.
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Whatever happens Nov. 8, Roby Politi and Derek Doty say the race will end the same way it began—with two friends harboring respect for each other.
For Doty, running against a friend and a colleague isn’t as tough as it sounds:
“For me, and I’m sure for Roby, it’s just about letting the people know what you can do for them without letting what the other person has done or is going to do get in the way,” Doty said.
Meanwhile, Politi says he laments politics and party posturing. He says it’s a leader’s function to look out for everyone, political opponents and taxpayers alike:
“I’ve never taken a party side; even on my board, I don’t look at people being Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “This job and the role of governing should be about doing what’s best for the whole.”
Politi was first elected supervisor in 2007. Prior to that, he served as Lake Placid village mayor and as a justice for North Elba.
The 61-year-old real estate broker announced his re-election bid in July after getting the go-ahead from his doctors. He was diagnosed with cancer in early 2010 but now has a clean bill of health, saying he’s “happy to be here.”
For Politi, working in local government boils down to a simple premise:
“Only one thing: love of community,” he said. “I’ve always felt that everyone has a responsibility to try and make a difference, to give back. What’s so wrong about giving back to a community you love? That’s the only reason. I don’t need the money; I don’t necessarily have the time. I make the time; it’s important to me to be making a difference for my community.”
Like Politi, Doty sports a strong local government resume; three years on the Franklin town board, a five-year term on the Saranac Lake Central School District Board of Education, and more than six years on the North Elba town council.
The 54-year-old says he’s wanted to be town supervisor for some time but has waited until the right time to run. Doty plans to leave his job as facilities manager of the Whiteface Inn Club and Resort in November – he says he’d be a full-time supervisor.
“The primary difference between Roby and me is that I will be afforded to give full time to the job—I’m putting all of my efforts into this election,” he said. “I have what I consider to be an energy level that’s second to none. I have a dedication and, I think, a reputation that will pull lots of support.”
North Elba hasn’t experienced the same economic hardship that other Essex County towns have witnessed over the last several years. The town has kept spending in check, decreased its tax rate and improved workforce efficiency – all with both Politi as supervisor and Doty working hand-in-hand as councilman.
Some critical issues are looming – the town wants to decrease its annual appropriation to the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, and it also hopes to fund a makeover of the clubhouse at the famed Craig Wood Golf Course.
On both issues, Politi and Doty are in agreement.
But while all is steady on the homefront, Essex County is facing an entirely different monster.
Lawmakers are facing a myriad of budget issues—made more difficult by the state’s new property tax cap. The county must also decided whether to continue operating immensely popular services, like the Horace Nye Nursing Home and the fish hatchery.
The winner of this year’s supervisor race will play a critical role in shaping those decisions.
Politi says North Elba is well represented on the county board:
“I think you see that when you go down there [to Elizabethtown],” he said. “I think that all of the other supervisors will tell you that they are happy with North Elba leadership.”
For his part, Doty believes he has all the tools in place to make him successful on the county level.
But, no matter what happens Nov. 8, Politi and Doty stressed that it’s the taxpayers of North Elba who will end up winning.