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Analysis: The bigger picture in the myriad of local choices

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Brian Mann and Martha Foley sort through the implications of an Election Day that featured scores of races that decided important questions about local leadership.

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So as we've been hearing, a lot of fiercely fought races yesterday, a lot of incumbents either defeated or stepping aside this election season.  Brian Mann joins me now on the line to sort through all this.

Brian, looking at broad themes here, it seems that this was a good year to be a challenger.

It really was.  Obviously, some high profile incumbents held on, including Jeff Graham the mayor of Watertown.  But from Ogdensburg right down to Lake George, a lot of mayors and town supervisors were either ousted or are dangerously close as absentee ballots are tallied. 

There were some real surprises, including Elizabethtown's Noel Merrihew, the incumbent, who trails currently.

This is also a year when a lot of veteran politicians stepped aside, with mayors or supervisors in Malone, Tupper Lake, North Hudson, Schroon Lake and Johnsburg all retiring.

A lot of these local governments are struggling with the size of their budgets, with property taxes -- with big questions about what role government should play.   Did that play a role here?

It did, but with mixed results.  The big one, of course, is Potsdam, where voters decided not to dissolve the village.  That reflects a pretty consistent trend in the region where these dissolution proposals seem to be hitting a brick wall.

But groups advocating for smaller government did make some gains in the Franklin County town of Brighton and in Lake George.

In Brighton, town supervisor John Quenell had proposed exploring a project where the town would redevelop the old Camp Gabriels prison.

And in Lake George, town officials had been working to salvage part of the old Gaslight Village property. 

In both of those communities, it appears that the incumbents were voted out.

On the In Box blog, you wrote that it appears that Democrats are still competitive in these North Country races, despite the region's tradition as a Republican stronghold.

Yeah, this was an interesting thing to watch.  Nationally, republicans are riding pretty high right now, so I was curious to see if the North Country would kind of return to form with more people voting the GOP line.  But that didn't happen.  A lot of republicans did well, but democrats also made some significant gains, picking up seats in the Clinton County legislature, holding onto the Malone village mayor's seat, and holding onto the mayor's seat in Potsdam.

Brian, circle back for just a moment to Paul Maroun's election as Mayor of Tupper Lake village.  He ran largely on his support for the Adirondack Club and resort project.  How significant is that?

The timing here is important.  The Adirondack Park Agency is about to vote on a permit for the proposed resort and the departing mayor, Mickey Desmarais, had been what you might call a cautious supporter.  He asked a lot of skeptical questions and that angered the resort's boosters.  Maroun, who is also on the Franklin County legislature, has promised to be a solid cheerleader for the development.  If the APA approves it, as is widely expected, local leaders will then have to make a lot of decisions about how to partner on the project.  So this is an election win that supporters of the resort will celebrate.

Okay, just a reminder that all of these results are unofficial at this point and in some cases the results are pretty close.  In North Hudson, just three votes separate the two candidates.  Also, don't forget that there's a lot more conversation and analysis on our blog the In Box.

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