CANTON - Voters casting their ballot in the town highway superintendents race in Canton will have the choice between an incumbent with 20 years on the job and a challenger who believes its time for a change.
Terry L. Billings, the Republican incumbent, is being challenged by Democrat Edward J. McCarthy in the Nov. 5 election for a four-year term as town highway superintendent.
Mr. McCarthy is also running on an independent line.
The campaign for the $42,500-a-year position has so far been fairly low-key.
Mr. Billings, 62, of 731 Route 310, believes he has a proven track record of maintaining the towns 101 miles of roads and bridges. He oversees eight employees and spent 22 years as a St. Lawrence County sheriffs deputy before beginning as highway superintendent in 1994. He has been elected to the post five times and this is his sixth campaign.
Im healthy, and I still like my job, Mr. Billings said. Its always a challenge.
Besides management duties, Mr. Billings said the position involves knowing a great deal about state and federal regulations related to safety standards, emission regulations and other rules.
Following the 1998 ice storm, Mr. Billings said he was responsible for documenting the towns expenses to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency. As a result, the town was able to receive reimbursement for downed trees and other storm-related expenses.
Mr. McCarthy, 55, of 3 Giffin Road, spent 13 years working as a crew member for the town highway department, before resigning in February 1999.
Hes now employed by Graymont Materials, Potsdam, a company that supplies concrete and other building materials to construction sites.
He said he has several ideas for saving the town money including recycling blacktop and gravel, which he said is being done in other St. Lawrence County towns.
People had been asking me to run for the job, Mr. McCarthy said. I decided that he (Mr. Billings) has been in for nearly 20 years, and it was time for some changes.
Mr. McCarthy said the department should also be using the Internet to stay aware of improvements in highway materials and methods that could make the towns highway department more efficient and progressive.
Things have changed in the last 20 years, and Im aware of some of these changes, Mr. McCarthy said. There are ways to use recycled material to create more durable, longer-lasting roads.