No candidates on ballot for several Lewis County offices

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 3:13 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There is no one on the ballot for a dozen offices in Lewis County, come election day this November.

No one has filed for town supervisor in Osceola, Montague, or Lyonsdale.

There’s no candidate on the ballot for town clerk in Harrisburg, Lewis, Montague, or Lyonsdale.

No one has filed for highway superintendent in the Town of Leyden.

No one has filed for tax collector in Martinsburg, where the job is separate from town clerk.

They’re short two candidates for village trustee in Port Leyden.

They’re short one town council candidate in the Town of New Bremen.

This means voters will have to “write in” who they want on election day.

Bruce Williams, the current supervisor in the Town of Montague, knows all about write-ins. It’s how he found himself getting the job in 2020.

“There was nobody on the ballot for town supervisor, there was an open position on town council. I figured I could do better than nobody,” Williams told 7 News.

He would welcome someone else taking the job - but the numbers work against him.

Williams estimates there are 70 voters in Montague and “Half of that profile of people has either served, or they’re in a point in their life they don’t want the extra aggravation or responsibility.”

He says the other half are likely younger, raising families, with other job responsibilities.

That leaves few people who could, or would, take the job.

Mike Young, who chairs the county Republican Committee, says there are a few likely reasons people aren’t running; for one, many communities have small populations, plus, some people say it just doesn’t pay enough, and there’s the potential public backlash.

“If one or two people write their name or something like that, that’s who gets it. If the position remains vacant, then the town or village board will be required to appoint someone if they can,” Young said.

It’s a county-wide problem, and all the offices matter, Young says.

“If we continue to have vacancies, or not take responsibility for these local issues, my fear is the state will come in and start mandating, telling us what to do, we could have some bureaucrat from Albany or some other state office away from here telling us what to do.”

While Lewis County has the highest number of offices for which there is no candidate on the ballot, the same thing has occurred in Jeferson and St. Lawrence counties, and in local school board races.