Lake Placid had solid choices for election

We are happy to add our congratulations to Tuesday’s village election winners and our thanks to all the candidates who put themselves out there to serve their neighbors.

Lake Placid had the only competitive village election in our readership area this year, and it was a big one. As Craig Randall’s 12 years as mayor ended, his position and two trustee seats were up for grabs — a majority of the five-member board. All the board positions were contested, and Lake Placid was blessed to have excellent candidates to choose from. There were no bad options.

Voters chose Art Devlin for mayor and Marc Galvin and Jackie Kelly for trustee. They ran together on the Teamwork party line and bring a great deal of experience to the table, both in government and business. Devlin and Galvin own local businesses (a motel and a bookstore, respectively), and Galvin has been an important advocate to the village for small business interests. Devlin has spent the last 12 years as trustee and the last eight as deputy mayor. Kelly is a member of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board, manages the Lake Placid Conference Center for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority and previously worked in hotel management. All are involved in the community in other ways, too. Their love and commitment to this community are as obvious as their qualifications.

These are people who can be relied upon to make sure things are well managed behind the scenes, but who are also open to public input and not afraid to start new initiatives.

That is good, because while Lake Placid’s overall economy is doing very well, it keeps charging toward the high end, becoming more like the Vails and Whistlers of the world — pushing a lot of people out. Lake Placid’s tourism economy relies on thousands of workers, many of them young, but it keeps getting harder for those people to live here. Older people, too, have a hard time. When Mayor Craig Randall and his wife sold their motel and tried to buy a house in Lake Placid, they found themselves priced out and moved instead to the Champlain Valley town of Peru. When a mayor can’t afford to live here, the village has a big problem.

Those already anchored in Lake Placid don’t always get how critical this is. They know that many people have a hard time finding housing, but they don’t necessarily know any of those people, personally. Also, many homeowners have become part of the lodging industry through internet-based short-term rental services like Airbnb and Expedia Group, so they resist restrictions needed to free up more apartments. Others may complain about rowdy vacation rental customers, but that’s missing the bigger point. Many Lake Placid businesses are hobbling along short-staffed, because they can’t find enough workers within commuting distance. And the generation that grew up in Lake Placid in the last decade — and going forward — mostly can’t afford to settle here, outside of living with their parents.

This is a critical time in Lake Placid’s history. We’re confident the reconfigured village board is up to tackling the many tough issues facing this community.