ST. JOHNSVILLE — When Dominick Stagliano stepped down from public office in St. Johnsville last summer, retiring from politics wasn’t a given.
Stagliano, 74, assured that he was already weighing a run for village mayor upon leaving his 24-year tenure as town supervisor in order to take time off for surgeries.
“I didn’t feel like I should be taking a paycheck and not being there,” said Stagliano, who suffers from Type II diabetes. “It was easier for me to say I was resigning.”
Now recovering from a foot operation, he feels healthy enough to serve as mayor for the first time since 1994, hoping to mend budget woes in the western Montgomery County village.
Political newcomer Dawn White wishes to stand in his way Tuesday. In recent weeks, she’s espoused a broad list of goals, which include hoping to increase shared services with the town and expand programming in the village’s marina.
Both politicians are Democrats running under independent petitions.
“Dominick has an answer for everything and he thinks he knows everything,” White said. “I am perfectly willing to admit that I know very little about government, but I know where to look for help and know how to research.”
Stagliano became supervisor in 1998. Formerly chairman of the Board of Supervisors, he ran against Matt Ossenfort in the first ever race for Montgomery County executive in 2014 and lost.
White was born in Utica, raised in St. Johnsville and has owned a home in the community since 2009. White was frequently distant as a career travel nurse, but in recent years has significantly narrowed her work radius.
If elected, she would be the second political newcomer in less than six months to win executive office in the area. Republican Phoebe Sitterly beat Democratic acting Town Supervisor Martha Mancini, a seasoned politician, by more than two-thirds of the vote in November.
“I’ve obviously run for supervisor every two years and mayor, four years,” said Stagliano. “I never ran against a person so inexperienced: never been on a Village Board, never been on a Town Board, never been anything.”
White became familiar with village affairs after joining a coalition of activists concerned over the potential environmental and fiscal consequences of BlueTriton Brands purchasing some of the village’s drinking water supply — a key issue brought up by White this election cycle.
No deal has been considered.
The Board of Trustees last year voted to require BlueTriton Brands to have an environmental review before making a purchase offer. The group, formerly Nestle Waters, has long held a contract with the village to monitor its water supply in the town of Ephratah.
“The site agreement is up in July and if I am mayor, they will go away,” White said about the company, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Stagliano believes the issue is being overblown by village activists.
“No one is in favor of selling the water to BlueTriton,” Stagliano said.
Politics in St. Johnsville has been fiery over the last few months as conversations over raising the sewer rates and handling chicken complaints have taken center stage.
Both candidates appear to have little support from the current Board of Trustees, notwithstanding some exceptions. Stagliano said that he aligns the closest with longtime local lawmaker James Castrucci, who isn’t up for re-election this year.
Neophyte John Lewandowski is also running alone for trustee.
White is running with newcomer Steve Elwood and Arthur Dockerty, the current deputy mayor who took on the responsibilities of former Mayor Charles Straney, who resigned last year. Stagliano has been critical of the last administration’s fiscal management.
“Until they get their finances in order, it’s very difficult to make a decision on what should be done,” Stagliano said.
St. Johnsville has faced the brunt of de-industrialization over the years, adding to financial stress. The greater town’s population plunged 5.1% within the decade and 28.8% since 1960.
“It always made me sad to drive down every time there was one more store that was closed,” White said.
White has chided the last administration for not applying for a NY Forward grant, like villages in the neighboring counties of Otsego, Fulton and Schoharie. Stagliano said that the village needs to get more organized before taking further action.
Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Community House at 16 Washington St.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.
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