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ELECTION: 5 run for 2 town council seats in Jay

November 3, 2017
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

AuSABLE FORKS - Voters in the Town of Jay will see a crowded ballot in the town council slot as five current and aspiring candidates are running for two empty seats.

Fueled by visions of a busy Main Street, frustration with a lack of conversation and a desire to improve the town of around 2,000 people, they will have their chance to make a change after elections on Nov. 7.


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Kate Comegys Mongulla

Democratic candidate Kate Comegys Mongulla said she is running for town council because she does not have a right to complain about the town if she is not doing anything to fix it and that the fate of the town of Jay rests on the council's shoulders.

She wants to hone the town's image and spur action within the council. With hopes of filling empty storefronts on Main Street with businesses, she said tourists need a reason to stop in Jay, and that amenities and image are crucial to stopping passersby.

"I think we need to take advantage of our position as a 'gateway town' to the Olympic region and to the Adirondacks," she said.

She also said that tourists would not know about Jay's artists or their popular farms without proper signage and a way to inform travelers that Jay has culture and food worth stopping for.

Without a hotel in the town, she said residents will need to become Airbnb hosts, something she has been since living in Chicago.

She moved back to AuSable Forks in July 2016.

Comegys Mongulla spoke highly of Jay's school district and said it was a valuable asset to convince stopped tourists that the town is also a good place to stay and grow.

"The residents here complain about the high tax rate," she said. "Rather than cutting the taxes, I'd rather see other things come in to pick up the slack and add to the tax base so that individuals aren't the ones supporting the town, but businesses are."


Spencer Reynolds

Spencer Reynolds, running under the Spencer Reynolds Party, is throwing his hat in the ring after a year of feeling unsatisfied with the board's inaction through controversial hikes in property assessments.

"I want to bring my business experience and my common sense," Reynolds said. "I want to bring conversation; there's zero conversation going at these council meetings."

Jay, Keene, Lewis and St. Armand share the same tax assessor, Donna Bramer. In recent years, Bramer has raised the assessed value of Jay properties, which can consequently raise taxes for those that go up more than average. Reynolds does not believe the properties are being assessed fairly and that Bramer is being spread thin assessing properties in four towns.

Reynolds also wants to eliminate health insurance for the part-time job of town council. Council members pay 20 to 25 percent of the cost of their insurance, and the town covers the rest. Reynolds said that while full-time employees of the town see less adequate insurance coverage, he does not think part-time employees should get nearly a quarter covered.


John Sheldrake

John Sheldrake, running on the Republican and Honesty lines, said there are a lot of current projects for the town he is working on. Sheldrake sat on the board in the 1990s and after a two-year term in 2015 he is campaigning for the seat once again.

His current focus is on infrastructure and saving electric and telephone utility costs. According to him, electric customers paying 7 to 9 cents per kilowatt hour currently could have that reduced to 5 cents or even less if they switch to a municipal electric system.

Changing phone providers would have to wait until Dec. 20 when the town's contract with Frontier expires and it would be able to switch to Spectrum, Sheldrake said.

There are also plans to update the AuSable Forks water system from what Sheldrake called a "one-and-a-half-well" system to a two- or three-well system. The state Department of Environmental Conservation also has requested the town remove the Rome Dam.

Sheldrake said he is well aware of the assessor controversy but the board does not have influence to change anything.

"She's under mandate from the state anyways; the state tells her what to do," Sheldrake said. "We, as a town board, have no control over that whatsoever. It's illegal for us to even suggest to the assessor to lower rates."


Amy Shalton

Republican Amy Shalton has been on the board for 16 years and has seen the town weather flooding from Hurricane Irene, an earthquake in 2003 and a business reduction since the paper mill left.

She said she helped recover from the natural disasters and has been working to recover the storefronts lining town's main road.

"We have a beautiful community, and we want to be able to build within our community, work with our contractors, our builders," Shalton said. "We need to work locally."

As a real estate agent, Shalton has an inside scoop on local properties and has promoted the town's business community through real estate. A pamphlet distributed to rental homeowners lists local businesses for people spending a short time in Jay.

Shalton helped write a grant to bring Spectrum communications to hundreds of AuSable Acres residents in 2016 and hopes to bring more cellphone coverage to the area with another tower.


Robert Segall

Running on the Democrat and Friendship lines, Robert Segall said he is running because he wants to pitch in to the town and contribute his thoughts and energy to the board.

His top priority is updating the village's website, which was created several years ago but had not been maintained recently.

"I see the website as the face of the town," Segall said. "We have a couple people here who built a website for the town, free of charge, and are willing to manage it. I want to see that that idea gets implemented."

Segall said he is not afraid of failure as long as he is doing something and making an effort to improve the town of Jay. He has done work as a citizen where he sees a need. This effort can be seen in the "cattle crossing" sign near the Sugar House Creamery that Segall asked the state Department of Transportation to install, adding safety and charm to the daily cattle path.

Segall said he is talking with a clothing company in the same vein as Carhartt to open a location in Jay and would also try to spruce up Main Street with flower pots and decorations.

"I don't know if it will get done, or not get done but I'm doing something," Segall said.



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