Tupper Lake mayoral candidates 2023

Tupper Lake has two village mayor candidates this election season.

Mayor Paul Maroun seeks his seventh and maybe last term. After years in municipal administration, town Councilwoman Mary Fontana wants to change.

Fontana will run independently on the “Integrity” party ticket on Nov. 7. Fontana and Maroun will compete for the Republican nomination in the June 19 caucus.

By publishing, the Enterprise could not confirm Conservative or Democratic caucus dates or that they are happening this year.

These caucuses might attract more candidates, but just these two have been announced.

Maroun claims the hamlet has improved in his 13 years as mayor and wants to stay in office for another two years.

He wants to finish the Oval Wood Dish redevelopment into an apartment and commercial hub, now that the project has the green light; keep the Riverpigs baseball team playing at the municipal ballpark.

Which he said is a big boon for the town; and finally fix the village’s long-standing water quality issues, which he said the village is making slow but steady progress on.

Fontana also said the town has grown a lot in her eight years on the council, and she has been molded politically by getting to know the “inner workings of Tupper Lake” thanks to her mentors, “veterans of politics.”

She was the temporary town supervisor for months last year, but she claimed a tragedy brought her there.

She stated Clint Hollingsworth, elected town supervisor in November 2021, died from cancer in February 2022, leaving “some pretty big shoes to fill.”

Fontana said the community lost a tremendous leader.

Last November, Rick Dattola became supervisor when she declined. Under her leadership, the town has grown with a five-year plan for departments, facility renovations, and a budget below the tax threshold.

She said she wasn’t responsible for all that, but she’s happy of the town’s progress during her tenure on the board. Fontana feels confident leaving the town council to focus on village matters.

Fontana told the Enterprise, “Paul has been an altruistic and patient leader, but I think this community is ready for a change in pace, attitude and direction.

Maroun sees no cause to alter leadership. He wants to continue village activities. Local governments are struggling, but he works hard and uses his contacts to aid the hamlet.

Maroun stated the village board is busier than the town.

Fontana added, “I think there are members of the current village board that maybe don’t have a good pulse on the political climate of today. “Nationally, regionally, or locally.”

She said politics is tough and people want openness and change.

Fontana remarked, “I bring a different attitude and perspective.” Today’s politics are different. Taxpayers want to know how you spend their money. They want the town to focus on 20-year goals rather than 10-year concerns.

Maroun stated Fontana is his friend and a wonderful person. “She will have some issues on the board,” he continued.

He didn’t want to enter all of them yet because he hadn’t even been on a caucus ballot. However, he noted that she works at the village’s insurance office, which may restrict her from addressing many topics.

Fontana is the village’s OneGroup Insurance local contact but does not get commission. If elected, she would quit as producer and contact for that policy.

She stated tensions were high and unproductive. The lack of communication between the boards was shocking.

Since 2023, village police have not been permitted to react to town calls except in rare circumstances because the contract ended without an agreement.

Fontana said the village’s major challenges are money and water, which are related.

Since spending have outpaced tax collections, the village budget has exceeded the state tax ceiling in recent years. The village terminated three empty police officer jobs this year to decrease its budget. Maroun said this should improve future budgets.

Fontana believes the village needs “conservative” financial leadership. She will examine its spending to “control the bleeding” if elected.

The community provides a “significant amount, wonderful service”.

“Water, sewer, garbage, Department of Public Works, fire, police. Fontana said the community had everything.

She said that the tax base is not increasing, which is “alarming,” and service expenses will always rise. She admitted that the hamlet had received funding, but she believed that “subsidizing” the budget was not the answer.

Fontana also suggested the village board trust its department heads as subject matter experts.

Fontana noted that village department leaders are qualified to oversee their personnel without political intervention.

Water issues have caused the community several difficulties. 30 individuals protested the dirty water last week. Maroun said the village is considering using lakes instead of wells. He stated this will cost over $10 million, and the village has $5 million from state funding.

Fontana said the town is progressing but needs greater communication. If elected, she would use social media more to communicate the village’s progress.

She promised to alter attitudes, address villager issues, and safeguard tax monies if elected. Fontana said she doesn’t have all the answers but recognizes the village’s difficulties and believes her viewpoint, attitude, and drive may help.

Maroun said Tupper Lake is well-positioned. “Tupper Lake residents live well.”

The village’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative is progressing. He called the electric section “perfect.” It experienced its first rate rise in eight years to keep employees from leaving for National Grid.

Maroun narrowly gained reelection in 2021. Eric Shaheen—now a village trustee—came within 16 votes of unseating Maroun.

June 19’s Republican caucus will be at 21 Santa Clara Ave.’s emergency services facility at 6 p.m.

Since becoming town supervisor, Dattola has resigned as Conservative Party chair. He stated he had not heard of any caucus arrangements from other party members.

John Quinn, the “ad hoc” head of the Tupper Lake Democratic Party last year, claimed he did so to get John Gillis elected to the town board as the party is “unorganized” in Tupper Lake. He had not heard of a caucus this year.

Caucuses must be notified 10 days in advance till June 27.

Leave a Reply