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Three candidates to vie for Jay board seats

October 22, 2009
HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer
    JAY — On Nov. 3, three candidates will vie for two seats on the Jay town board. The race for the council seats is between incumbents Archie Depo and Amy Shalton and political newcomer Fred Balzac. The town of Jay encompasses the hamlets of Au Sable Forks, Jay and Upper Jay. Terms are four years.

    The candidates have been listed in alphabetical order.

Fred Balzac

    Balzac, 50, has been active in Jay as a community organizer and volunteer since moving there in 1992. Tops on his list of priorities are encouraging residents to buy local and go green, and keeping taxes down while maintaining essential services. Balzac is a freelance writer and editor whose work appears in Lake Champlain Weekly. He has 30 years experience in the communications field.

    If elected, Balzac said he would find ways to get grants to help the town and its residents use green energy, like solar power.

    “A conscious effort at the town level can help the whole community,” he said.

    Balzac, who is running on the Democratic ticket, would also look into specific issues with traffic safety, like the intersection of Springfield Road and state Route 9N, which he says is a potentially dangerous corner.

    “There’s a blind spot there,” he said. “I would certainly look into it if I’m elected. Public safety issues are at the top of my agenda.”

    Balzac, who is married and has a 14-year-old son, said he would try to help stimulate the local economy and look into founding a chamber of commerce, since living in the Adirondack Park presents challenges to the growth and development of industry. That’s why it’s important to patronize local businesses.

    “We are just coming out of a recession,” he said. “We are feeling those effects in the town of Jay. Spending money in locally owned businesses is one way to help the local economy prosper.”

    Promoting Jay’s soon-to-be-three local arts centers (the Julia and Amos Ward Theatre, the Recovery Lounge and the Tahawus Lodge Center Project, which is still in the works) would be another way to bring visitors to town and boost the economy.

    Protecting local residents and homeowners from ever-escalating taxes, due in part to second home development, is another priority.

    “Zoning is a controversial word, but I’m willing to bring it up and make it a key issue,” he said. “We don’t have a comprehensive zoning plan. It needs to be looked at because comprehensive zoning would protect the town from big developments. That is my concern there.”

    Balzac said he feels a kinship with President Barack Obama. They both attended Columbia College in New York City.

    “It inspired me to get involved,” he said.

Archie Depo

    Although he’s not afraid to cast the dissenting vote if he has to at board meetings, incumbent Archie Depo says he has a great working relationship with all the board members. Depo will be running for his fourth term as councilman, having served 12 years on the town board, with six of those as deputy supervisor.

    Depo, 58, was born and raised in the town of Jay. Keeping taxes low is also a priority for him and the keystone of his platform. He said the board does everything it can to keep taxes down, including sharing services with other towns.

    “I’ve always scrutinized the spending so we could keep taxes lower,” Depo said. “We have a lot of people on fixed incomes, and the way the economy is, people struggle just to stay in their homes.”

    Depo, who retired from the Pepsi Bottling Company in Keeseville, served for 11 years on the Adirondack Community Action Program board of directors. He now works for the Essex County Department of Public Works.

    What he considers his biggest accomplishments over his last three terms are much the same as fellow councilwoman Shalton’s: completing Upper Jay water district projects and bringing water rates down. Looking to the future, Depo said plans to upgrade the Au Sable Forks water treatment facility are on the horizon. The facility, which Depo said is 30 years old and deteriorating, will cost $200,000 to $300,000.

    “As a board, we have over $120,000 toward that project,” he said. “We are working to secure funds.”

    Depo said he’s seeking a fourth term simply because he loves his hometown and working for his constituents.

    “I care about our town and our people,” Depo said. “It’s the reason I run. You have to really do all you can to help them.”

Amy Shalton

    Two issues of key importance in this election for town board candidate Amy Shalton are keeping taxes down and revitalization. Shalton, who is running on the Republican ticket, is running for her third term. She works as a Realtor for B.A. Straight Real Estate in Jay.

    “Working cohesively, we have been able to apply for and have received many grants to help decrease taxes,” she said in a prepared statement. “I will continue to make every effort to reduce and stabilize taxes.”

    During Shalton’s tenure on the board, she has helped oversee several projects on the Upper Jay water district to completion, including a $4.5 million New York State Department of Health mandated upgrade, new lines and control building, and secured funding to lower water rates from $9.97 per thousand to $2.47 per thousand. During her terms, the board also created a reserve account for the Upper Jay water district for the first time in more than 25 years.

    Other accomplishments include cooperating with the surrounding towns of Black Brook, Wilmington, Peru and AuSable to share services, equipment and grants. Shalton also helped oversee the refurbishment and secure funding for the covered bridge and the building of the Emergency Services Volunteer Memorial Bridge.

    Shalton, 56, said she enjoys working with the people of her hometown. If elected, she will continue to make revitalization a priority.

    “Revitalization is a community effort to bring new businesses and improve the aesthetics of our town,” she said. “I would like to continue to work for the citizens of this beautiful township and will continue to be devoted to all issues important to every constituent.” 



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