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Despite criticism, Potsdam officials run unopposed

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POTSDAM — The town will fill three positions come election time in November, but going to the polls likely will be little more than a formality at a local level.

Two candidates are running unopposed to fill two open Town Council positions, and one is running unopposed to remain town justice.

Judith R. Rich is nearing the end of her second four-year term on the town board, and likely will keep her seat for another four years. She is running unopposed as a Democrat.

Councilman Michael J. Zagrobelny’s second term ends this year. He has chosen not to run again, now that he has taken a new job with New York State United Teachers.

He said he wasn’t sure he could balance the new workload with his duties as an elected official.

“I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough time to do them both well,” he said.

Newcomer James A. Grant, a Democrat, is running unopposed to fill his seat.

Mr. Grant could not be reached for comment.

James A. Mason is running unopposed for another term as town justice.

The town government has been subjected to plenty of criticism this year, much of it stemming from a controversial reassessment of all town properties. Ms. Rich said she was surprised to find that she was running without competition.

“Maybe we were able to convince them that we were doing the right thing, and we had the public in mind. That would make me happy if that were so,” she said.

That is not the case, according to Tracey E. Haggett-Sloan, president of the Town of Potsdam Taxpayers Association.

The association has been among the most vocal critics of the Potsdam town board since its creation in 2009. This year the organization tried to find new candidates to compete for seats on the board, to no avail.

“We had hoped that we had a couple of people who were interested, and it turns out they weren’t interested. I’m extremely disappointed,” Ms. Haggett-Sloan said.

She ran for a board seat in 2009.

“The Republican Party in this particular part of New York state is not very strong. And I don’t know if people just don’t have the interest, or if they don’t have the time,” she said.

Although the Potsdam local elections may look like a foregone conclusion, it is not impossible for someone new to throw his or her name into the mix at the last minute.

“This is all subject to change, because you can still have people starting a write-in campaign,” said Thomas A. Nichols, Republican chairman of the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections.

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