POTSDAM - The battle for village trustee has now become a three-horse race, with additional candidates expected to be announced next week.
Mark T. Lee has announced his intentions to run for the position on a third-party independent line, joining Democrats Reinhold J. Tischler and Eleanor F. Hopke as the three contenders vying for two open seats on the village board.
And with the Republican caucus scheduled to be held next week, as many as five candidates may be on November's ballot for the two available seats on the village board.
Mr. Lee, a high school science teacher at Colton-Pierrepont, said he was inspired to run after serving 19 months on the village's Dissolution Committee.
"This is such a critical time for the village with dissolution talk," he said. "But what we need to do is help to make a village that is an attractive place to live while at the same time affordable. I hope to be able to do that."
Mr. Lee will be one of at least two political newcomers on the ballot as he enters his first run for office. Earlier this month, village Democrats put their support behind Ms. Hopke, backing the long-time village resident in her initial campaign.
Mr. Lee said his time serving on the village's Dissolution Committee helped prepare him for a run for the village board and gave him some insight into what needs to be changed in the way business is handled in the village.
"I came out of (dissolution) study process feeling like I don't think the village should be dissolved, but on the same token there are some things that need to be done to improve the village," he said.
The main focus of his campaign, he said, will be to lower the village's tax rates through a number of approaches.
Step one would be to work with the town in an effort to allow businesses to annex into the village, ultimately bringing in more tax dollars to village government, he said.
Mr. Lee also said he would like to adjust the contribution levels current and former village police officers make toward their health insurance benefits. The village's current commitment to offering benefits to retired police officers has put a financial burden upon taxpayers, he said.
"It's the elephant in the closet that is costing the village a lot of money," he said.
Mr. Lee is hoping his ideas to lower village tax rates along with a dedicated door-to-door campaign will help win over voters.
"I believe very strongly in making this village an attractive place to live," he said. "I want to make it so that we can continue to enjoy this wonderful community with a nice level of services but we need to work on making it so it's also an affordable place to live."