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Wilmington town board member wants to be clerk

WILMINGTON — Shortly before Wilmington’s town council meeting began on Tuesday, Feb. 9, council member Dawn Stevens distributed a letter announcing that she will not seek reelection to the board this fall.

She still plans to be on the ballot, though. She is running for town clerk, hoping to succeed longtime Clerk Gerald Bruce, who recently retired. The board appointed Nancy Randall as interim town clerk.

Stevens, 67, was first elected to the town board in 2005, when she prevailed in a six-candidate race. She has run unopposed every four years since.

“I wanted to run for town clerk before I was even on the town board,” Stevens said during Feb. 10. “Jerry had been talking about leaving and told me he was going to, and then he came back and told me that he’d changed his mind, and I told him I wasn’t going to run until he was done. Now he’s done, and I’d like to give it a go — still serve the community, but do something different. It’s not a new interest for me; it’s just something I was not going to pursue while Jerry was in it.”

Stevens’ background

Stevens moved to Wilmington when she was 11, attended Wilmington’s long-gone elementary school and graduated from Lake Placid High School. She was the oldest of seven siblings; town Supervisor Roy Holzer is Stevens’ younger brother.

“Most people don’t even realize I’m a Holzer — which, in a way, I’m glad about, because with Roy being the supervisor right now, it makes it a little harder for me to run for this, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I’m going to do it,” Stevens said.

On Feb. 10, she recounted a career during which she worked at several Wilmington businesses that now exist only in the realm of memory, including the Pancake Haven, Whiteface Market and Mystery Spot Park.

She also worked at the Little Supermarket when it was operated by Jimmy Roberts, as well as when it was managed by Jimmy’s son, Steve. She purchased the business from Steve, ran it during the 1990s, then sold it to her brother Roy in 1998.

Stevens worked for Roy and his wife Becky when they owned the store, then worked for her nephew Cliff Holzer Jr. when Cliff and his wife Sarah took the reins.

Stevens said she has no concerns about working in the same office as her younger brother.

“I worked for Roy for a long time at the store. I can pretty much work with anybody,” she said. “I’m opinionated at times, but I’m not hard to get along with, and Roy’s not hard to work with. Every supervisor’s different. I’ve worked with three supervisors, and they’ve all done things completely differently.”

Board tenure

Stevens struck a modest tone when speaking about her years on the town council.

“I’m not good at blowing my own horn,” she said. “I just don’t believe in that.”

“We’ve worked together. Everybody doesn’t always agree, but we’ve worked it out, and we agree to disagree. I’ve worked with a lot of good people. … Everything’s done as a group.”

Stevens pointed to improvements at the town park and at the town beach, the council’s ongoing work on short-term rental regulations, and revisions to the town’s building codes as among the highlights of her time on the board.

In addition to a new clerk, Wilmington’s voters will elect a town supervisor, two council members and a highway superintendent this fall.

For those seeking office as a Republican or a Democrat, the first day on which one may legally circulate nominating petitions is March 3. Those petitions must be filed with the Board of Elections by March 25. The first day on which one may circulate petitions to secure a place on the ballot as an independent is April 13. Independent candidates’ petitions must be filed with the Board of Elections by May 25.

Other business

The board unanimously passed a resolution expressing appreciation for recently retired town Clerk Gerald Bruce, who served as an elected official in Wilmington for more than four decades. The resolution states that Bruce’s “involvement and commitment to the community is an example of true public service.”

Holzer said that he has asked for greater police presence on Bonnieview Road due to pervasive speeding, that he’s working on lining up bands and sponsors for the town’s summer concert series and that the town has started looking for lifeguards to work at the town beach this summer.

Assembly Bill A4074

Holzer spoke out against Assembly Bill A4074, which recently moved out of committee hearings and is now on the New York state Legislature’s floor calendar. The bill’s summary, which can be viewed at nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/A4074, says that it aims to strengthen “land use and development provisions in the Adirondack park [sic] so as to curtail rural sprawl.”

Because of the allegedly deleterious environmental effects of rural sprawl, the proposed legislation seeks to “strengthen the land use and development plan and its administration by incorporating modern conservation design principles therein …” The bill — which applies to residential subdivisions of 25 or more lots in areas designated for “low intensity use”; to subdivisions with 10 or more lots in “rural use” areas; and to subdivisions of five or more lots in “resource management” areas — mandates that would-be developers supply the Adirondack Park Agency with a detailed “ecological site analysis” and an “open space management and stewardship plan.” The APA would then hold a public comments period and a public hearing on the proposed subdivision.

“I’m dead set against this legislation,” Holzer said at the meeting. “It undermines local governments’ own land-use codes. This is serious stuff. We’ve got to stay on top of this.”

Speaking after the meeting, Holzer said that the bill, if passed, portends a “huge potential loss of residential and small commercial development that brings families and jobs to our area,” and would be an example of “downstate interests controlling what happens in the North Country.”

“They really haven’t involved any local officials in this at all,” he said. “Organizations such as the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages should, at the very least, be involved in this.”

“Local residents need to be aware that this is going on,” Holzer continued. “They already have all kinds of protections for the Park. We don’t need yet another one.”