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While uncontested races aren’t unusual, Hidy not pleased to see them in Massena

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MASSENA - While Marlyn Berry was the only speaker at last week’s town board meeting to speak out about the lack of contested races for town council and town supervisor, she’s not the only person in Massena upset to see a lack of competition on the ballot in November.

Mayor James F. Hidy said he’s especially disappointed in his own Republican party for not fielding any town council candidates, setting up easy victories for incumbent Albert N. Nicola, as well as well as Thomas C. Miller, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board last month, and newcomer Samuel D. Carbone Jr.

“I’ve said it before. Contested races are healthy for the community. They bring out different view points that could be used to better the community,” he said., “I know it’s too late now, but I would like to see the Republican party become more engaged at their caucus.”

While Mr. Hidy said he’s not sure how many registered Republicans there are in the town, he knows the number is far greater than the 13 who showed up at the party’s caucus.

“There were only a handful of people there, and I know there are well over the number who showed up,” he said.

My Hidy suggested that the next time a caucus comes around Republicans from the town and village work with Thomas L. Jenison, the county’s Republican party chair, to ensure Massena’s voters have a choice when they head to the polls.

“The county Republican chair and Massena’s Republican Chair (Charlie Romigh) should create a dialogue and re-energize Massena’s Republican community again,” he said. “I know there are good, qualified people in the Republican party.”

While his own party will cruise to victory in the supervisor’s race, where incumbent Joseph D. Gray is also running unopposed, Mr. Hidy said he also wishes there was a challenger facing Mr. Gray.

“I don’t think any political candidate should run uncontested,” he said. “Debate is healthy. Different ideas are healthy and it gives people a choice.”

Mr. Hidy said the lack of interest from the community is especially troubling given Massena’s recent revitalization efforts.

“I think just handing individuals the race in a hand basket is not in the best interests of the community, particularly when we’re trying to re-invent Massena,” he said. “Right now we have no choices. It’s business as usual.”

Should residents of other communities share Mr. Hidy’s concerns, Massena’s mayor would not be alone in wishing for more contested races.

According to information provided by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections (which does not include write-in candidates), the number of uncontested races for town supervisor, mayor, town council or village board seats far outweigh the number of contested races.

Joining Massena with uncontested supervisor and town council races are Brasher, Canton, Colton, Fine, Hammond, Hopkinton, Lawrence, Norfolk, Oswegatchie, Piercefield and Rossie.

The village of Heuvelton also has an uncontested mayor and village board race, while the village of Rensselaer Falls has an uncontested mayoral race with only one candidate listed on the ballot for two village board seats.

Other communities find themselves with a mix of contested and uncontested races.

DeKalb, DePeyster, Edwards, Pitcairn and the village of Gouverneur all have contested board races with uncontested races for supervisor or mayor.

The towns of Clare, Lisbon and Parishville both have contested supervisor races with uncontested races for their town council.

Only the towns of Gouverneur, Macomb, Madrid, Morristown, Russell and Waddington have contested races for both town supervisor and town council, with the village of Canton also having a contested mayor’s and village board race.

Other contested races in the county include Pierrepont’s town council and Ogdensburg’s city council.

Other uncontested races include supervisor races in Clifton and Pitcairn, as well as town council races in Fowler, Hermon, Lawrence, Louisville, Potsdam and Stockholm.

Efforts made Friday afternoon to reach Mr. Jenison and St. Lawrence County Democratic Party Chair Mark J. Bellardini were unsuccessful.

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