Forbes edges Preston in Wilmington Town Council race

Darin Forbes (News photo — Sydney Emerson)

WILMINGTON — The second vacant seat on the Wilmington Town Council was called for incumbent Darin Forbes on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Forbes won the seat with 289 votes, seven votes more than incumbent Michelle Preston.

“I’m pleased by the results and I’d like to thank the town of Wilmington for believing in me and supporting me over all these years,” Forbes said. “I’ll continue to do my best to represent Wilmington and represent its taxpayers to the best of my ability. I don’t think that Wilmington really had any bad candidates this year, and I feel terrible for Michelle because she was a definite asset to the town board and to Wilmington. I feel like that will be definitely a loss, but hopefully Laura (Dreissigacker Hooker) and her new spot can learn and step into the role, and we can move forward with less division than what we’ve had over the past few years.”

Forbes, 43, is a contractor and Wilmington native who has served on the town council for 15 years. He ran on the Republican and independent Citizen’s Data Boy party lines. His campaign messaging positioned him as a unity candidate and frequently referred to divisions and negativity in town. His other priorities included “balancing short-term rentals to benefit locals and visitors alike,” exploring affordable housing options that fit with Wilmington’s aesthetic and finding ways to maintain affordable tax rates. He said at a candidate forum hosted by the Enterprise and Lake Placid News in October that he would like Wilmington to continue to grow and serve tourists, but to do so “responsibly.”

Forbes campaigned mostly on his record, including his 14 years as deputy town supervisor and involvement in major town projects. He said in an Oct. 27 candidate questionnaire in the Enterprise that he has a “deep understanding of (Wilmington’s) budget, codes, infrastructure and town policies.” Of the current town council members, he is one of the longest-serving.

Dreissigacker Hooker was also elected to the Town Council, unseating Preston. With 340 votes, she clinched her first term by a wide margin. The race was called for her on election night, leaving Forbes and Preston, who had 285 and 278 votes respectively, to vie for the remaining seat. An estimated 14 unreturned absentee ballots made the race between the two too close to call on Election Day. Forest “Randy” Winch, who campaigned with Dreissigacker Hooker, did not receive enough votes on Election Day to be within the margin of error for the second seat.

Preston, 52, is the director of the Whiteface Visitors Bureau and has served on the town council since August 2022, when she was appointed by town Supervisor Roy Holzer to fill the unexpired term of Paula McGreevy. She is also the widow of former town Supervisor Randy Preston. She ran on the Community First party line.

“If I had to lose a seat to someone, then I don’t really feel it’s a loss when it’s losing to Darin because I really feel as though he deserves a seat at the table,” Preston said. “If I had to lose to anyone by seven votes, I’m glad it was to him.”

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