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ELECTION: Preston, Sibalski vie for Wilmington supervisor

November 3, 2017
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7, Wilmington town Supervisor and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Preston will ask voters for another two years in office, while former Supervisor Thomas Sibalski will ask voters to put him in the job instead.

Both candidates are running on Independent tickets, Preston for the People's line and Sibalski for the Progressive line.

Preston has been supervisor since 2008 after beating eight-year Supervisor Jeanne Ashworth in the 2007 election. Sibalski, owner of the Whitebrook Dairy Bar, served as supervisor from 1994 to 1995 after beating Deputy Supervisor Roy Holzer in the 1993 election. That changed in 1995, when Holzer ousted Sibalski before serving as supervisor from 1996 to 1999.

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Both candidates were asked about their reasons for running, goals and vision for the town of Wilmington.

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RANDY PRESTON

Why are you running for the position?

Because I love what I do, and I think Wilmington is in a really good place right now. There's a lot of property changing hands, a lot of new construction. Some eyesores are rapidly improving. Basically, it boils down to, I love this town and I want to see us continue to prosper.

What are your qualifications?

I've been the town supervisor for the 10 years now, and I think that improvements that I've been able to accomplish in that 10 years speak for themselves.

What are your main goals?

Again, to continue to see Wilmington prosper as it has, and if there are ways that I can help us as far as grant funding, which I have been extremely successful at obtaining, then that's what I want to do.

What is the most important issue facing your town?

I really think probably the biggest thing is at some point we would like to come up with funding to clean the silt out of the (West Branch of the AuSable) river. That's always been a topic for years. It's filling our river in, and we're going to be a mud flat if we don't do something.

Also, secondary, is we've been looking into high-tech sewage treatment. What I mean by high-tech is most sewage treatment plants are millions of dollars, and they dump the water back into the river. And I am, in no way, for that and that's where the high-tech comes in. Nothing goes back into a water source; it goes into the ground.

What is your vision for Wilmington?

I would tend to think that maybe we would have affordable housing, a safe and efficient way to handle sewage, which has been a problem in Wilmington for years. Those are probably the main things.

Also, do away with road salt, which is destroying the Adirondacks, as far as I'm concerned. I sit on a committee of people a lot smarter than me, and we've been studying road salt for a couple of years now. They're sampling 400 drinking wells in the Adirondacks. Hopefully, we can get that study finished and to the right people in Albany, and I think then, and only then, will we get some action on the road salt.

Any final words?

I've become very good personal friends with a lot of people in Albany, and that has opened a lot of doors for me and for Wilmington and keeps us going in a forward direction.

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THOMAS SIBALSKI

Why are you running for the position?

I just think we can be a little more transparent, do a little better job with our expenses. We have a limited budget, and we tend to overbuy on some things.

We just had a large purchase on a fire truck, and I don't think there was anything wrong with our old fire truck. It had 7,000 miles on it and needed tires, but it was still usable. It was purchased by another community, and they found worth in it and their community was bigger than ours and they could afford more. They ended up buying ours, and we ended up buying a very expensive fire truck.

What are your qualifications?

I was town supervisor 12 years ago. I was the comptroller for the town of North Elba. I was a comptroller for a food service company, a multi-million-dollar company, a regional comptroller for Centerplate. I have a tremendous financial background, managerial background, and I just think we can do a little bit better than what we've been doing.

What are your main goals?

One of the goals I have is trying to get some grant money. We have a lot of people in our community that still are on wells, yet they just seem to be forgotten. We haven't really done anything along the lines of getting water extensions out down Bonnieview Road and down Springfield Road.

We did our main water, but then we just kind of stopped and I think we need to re-look and re-think what we're doing as far as getting water to these people and get off wells.

We had a well, and it was pretty dry last year and a couple of guys' wells went off. And they don't have the $4,000 to $5,000 to re-do a well, so they had to go borrow money when they could have a water line. And they're like 150 feet away from the line, but they just couldn't hook up to that line because they were going over other people's property. So they didn't have the resources to do that as well.

It just makes sense to continue to do our build-out of our water sources.

Also, the community at large is not doing good profitability-wise as far as economically. Businesses just are floundering. What we need to do is go get private and public monies to help those individuals to make their businesses more profitable and grow our community.

What is the most important issue facing your town?

We're a divided community in that someone way back in the 1960s decided that they were going to look at our school district. And half our town goes to AuSable (Valley Central) and the other half of our town goes to Lake Placid. And I'm trying to get it under one umbrella.

Somebody did an economic line and said, "Well, we'll split it halfway." But they never looked at the social implications of that. The kids, they don't even know kids in our own town, and they live in the same town. They're kind of ousted. So the next town is 10 miles away, like in AuSable Forks, and they're not a part of that community. They know the people in AuSable.

So we're kind of split as far as our community, and they did it not for social aspects but for economics. And they never looked at that social aspect of what it does to kids being separated in a community. That's one of the things.

Keeping water, sewer, the infrastructure of our community is very important. And the economic climate of our community as well.

What is your vision for Wilmington?

The main thing is doing a progressive build-out of our infrastructure and make sure it's up to par with the rest of the world. We have what I call "sideways growth." What we do is, a guy goes out of business and then after he goes out of business, somebody else goes in and tries to run a different type of business in that same spot. And we never really grow; we're just doing it sideways.

We've depleted so much, so fast, over the past 10 years, 15 years, and everybody says, "Oh yeah, business is great. Business is grand." But if you look at the buildings in our town, Steinhoff's closed.

The businesses are now owned by people that are older. I'm one of those older guys. There are older people, and people don't have the resources to buy the businesses that we are trying to sell.

There's a guy up the street, and he's trying to sell his business. He's in his late 60s, and he wants to move on. It's time for him to say, "Hey, I've done all I can do. Now I want to sell my business, retire and move on." And he can't. People don't have the resources in order to buy the business. Therefore, what happens is they lock the door and they stop. Then we have an empty building, and the business goes nowhere again.

Purdy's in Keene, you see that one. Nobody has the money to buy that building but yet it could be a viable entity for someone to expand their business.

So what happens to that tax base is the building usually gets dilapidated, gets blown down, and then the burden goes to everyone else in the community. We don't provide the jobs. We don't provide anything else as far as growth in the community.

Any final words?

Just go out and do the right thing. I'm there. I want to do the right thing, be as transparent as I can. This year especially with the election taken place in Washington, I think people are just tired of all the bologna and everything else that goes on.

I think what happens is people will tend to embellish. Guys like myself will go out and say, "We're going to cut taxes." Well, if you're going to cut taxes, do it. Because what happens is people will come in, and they say, "Well, you promised." And then you wonder why people have any kind of confidence in their elected officials, because they've been promised something and they feel like they've been lied to.

All I want to do is be honest and be as transparent as I can. Even bad news is something that we need to tell people, and good news.

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Other races

Also on the ballot, five elected officials will be running unopposed: Rarilee Conway and Dawn Stevens on the Town Council, Town Clerk/Tax Collector Gerald Bruce, county Coroner Francis Whitelaw and county District Attorney Kristy Sprague.

Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road.

 
 

 

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