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5 vie for the 4 Queensbury at-large seats on Warren County Board

By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor

Five candidates — four Republicans and a Democrat — are vying for Queensbury’s four at-large Warren County supervisor seats in the Nov. 5 election.

From left, Republican incumbents Doug Beaty, Mike Wild and Brad Magowan; Democrat Jean Lapper; and former Republican county supervisor Rachel Seeber.

Three of the four Republicans are incumbents: Doug Beaty, Michael Wild, Brad Magowan.

The fourth Republican, Rachel Seeber, previously served two terms on the board, then left two years ago to challenge incumbent Democrat John Strough for Town Supervisor. She lost.

The Democrat is Jean Lapper, an accountant making her first bid for public office.

One seat has no incumbent because Matt Sokol is not seeking re-election.

The Chronicle spoke with the candidates.

Jean Lapper, 59, is an accountant who has her own business, Anderson Advisory.

She says, “The county board is a good fit for me, with my accounting and financial skills, and my ability to weed through the politics and get to the facts. I will listen, observe and ask questions.

That’s what accountants do.”

She says, “This campaign is about local issues and preserving local tax dollars.”

As a Democrat and first-time candidate, she says, “I’m new to politics, and there is a lot of hesitancy to vote outside of your party, especially in Queensbury, where Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one,” but she says she is “doing a full-court press,” including sending mailers to people who signed her petition and mailing information on absentee voting.

When Rachel Seeber, 44, first ran for the county board in 2013, not only did she win, she tallied the most votes among the Queensbury at-large winners.

“I’ve got a good knowledge base,” she says. “…This is not a career path for me. I teach and have other interests. This is community service.”

Ms. Seeber is a travel agent and teaches criminal justice at SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Delhi. She said she’s a year into a doctorate program.

She said if voters “really want someone who is willing to do the work and is excited about it and will be accessible, I think I fit the bill and I’d be honored to serve. I think I bring diversity and a different perspective to the board.”

The outspoken Doug Beaty, 64, who is completing his third two-year term on the county board, is probably the highest profile member of the delegation.

Mr. Beaty, who works for the Taylor & Leonard insurance and financial services business in Glens Falls, has proposed to increase Warren County’s sales tax rate from 7% to 8% and use the revenue — which he says will largely be paid by tourists and other visitors to the county — to offset school and property taxes.

The plan has prompted much discussion. He said he’s still tweaking it and will present it to the full board in November.

“No one watches their tax dollars better than I do,” Mr. Beaty said. “I spend tax dollars like they are mine. I’m the most fiscally conservative member of the board, bar none. I don’t say no to everything. I was in favor of funding the new building at SUNY Adirondack, because that will help build the foundation to keep people here.

“I want smaller, leaner, more efficient government. Then our tax dollars go further.”

Michael Wild, 64, is finishing his first term in office. He’s retired after a career of engineering and leadership positions at Xerox, KMPG and most recently General Electric.

“I’m not in it for myself,” he said. “I like the role. It’s a challenging role. I think I bring a different perspective to the board because of my big business experience.

“I don’t like some of the politics of the board. We all have to recognize we’re one of 20 supervisors. We need to work together with the other supervisors while continuing to ask questions.”

About Mr. Beaty’s sales tax proposal, Mr. Wild said, “I don’t think it’s sustainable, and I’m fighting against it. We lose control when we give money to the school districts…Some people say let the county keep it. The county doesn’t need the money, because we’ll just spend it.

“If it helped everyone in the county and was sustainable, I would support it.”

Brad Magowan, 57, is finishing his first term as an at-large supervisor after serving on the Queensbury planning board for six years. A self-employed general contractor, he says, “I’m not a politician. I’m a voice. Your concerns are my concerns. I’m a good listener and a problem solver.

“I want to continue to work together with all parties to keep taxes down, spend wisely, and deal with unfunded mandates from Albany. We have done well maintaining spending levels to keep taxes from rising.”

Asked about Mr. Beaty’s sales tax proposal, Mr. Magowan said, “I haven’t climbed over the fence yet…I’m not a firm believer in giving money to schools because there’s a lack of control.

“It would benefit the smaller towns, but let’s see what we can do to work with the smaller towns. We’ve done a great job with shared services. We need to continue that. Working together is the best way.”

Ms. Seeber, asked about Mr. Beaty’s sales tax plan, said, “Residents I’m talking to have a lot of questions. I have not had an opportunity to sit down and hear this plan in full detail…I think it’s premature because it hasn’t even been discussed yet.”

Ms. Lapper said of Mr. Beaty’s idea, “Clearly a lot more needs to be done. As a proposal, it doesn’t make sense to me at all. It’s taking money from one pocket and putting it in another…and would hurt residents and businesses.”

All four Republicans are also on the Independence Party line. Mr. Beaty also has the Libertarian party line.

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