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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 12, 2009

Vlahos challenges Mayor Gaughan in Altamont race

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT— With an hour and a half left before the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, Harvey Vlahos filed the paperwork to run for mayor in the March 18 village election. In doing so, Vlahos transformed what was expected by many to be an uncontested re-election for incumbent Mayor James Gaughan, into a two-way race.

Both made their first run for mayor four years ago in a four-way race that Gaughan won.

When asked yesterday why he was joining the race for mayor, Vlahos quipped, “I’m a masochist,” before seriously explaining his reasoning. “It’s not a good idea to let someone run unopposed. There needs to be a discussion and another point of view. This country was founded on a system of checks and balances and it’s important that we have a discussion through which, hopefully, residents will learn what actually goes on.” 

 Mayor Gaughan, who was also surprised by Vlahos’s last-minute entrance into the race, said he plans to base his campaign for re-election on “a platform that draws and builds upon the promises made four years ago and the plan that resulted from it.”

Specifically, Gaughan says, he will continue to “safeguard taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars; protect our village’s precious resources, its aging infrastructure, and historic charm; provide quality support of programs and services for our youth and our seniors; and build solid collaborations with our community and service organizations, government, and businesses.”

Vlahos said he plans on focusing his campaign for mayor on better fiscal government and cites the village’s past mismanagement of water issues as an example.  “We had a disagreement with how the water situation was handled,” he said, “and this indicated differences of management style and fiscal management style.” 

Vlahos said he plans to articulate these and other differences in leadership style in the following weeks.

While traditional party affiliations, like Republican or Democrat, are not part of village races, candidates often form their own slates.

Gaughan is running again this time, as he did four years ago, with Trustee Kerry Dineen. A music teacher at Pine Bush Elementary School, she is running unopposed for one of two trustee seats.  Incumbent Dean Whalen, an architect, is running unopposed for the other.

Gaughan, who has retired from a career with the State Education Department, said that running alongside Dineen was “a natural alliance given we share so many views together. I see her as a complement to me running on the same line.” 

One issue that is sure to be debated is the budget for Altamont’s police force, which has risen steadily in the last four years.  Vlahos, who raised the issue at the village board meeting this month, said, “I’d like to see more of why the police budget went up 44 percent.”

Gaughan called the increase “modest, particularly because every year the village gives personnel a 3-percent cost-of-living increase.” He also defended the necessity of having the police force saying, “The Altamont police force has been in existence since the dawn of time and provides services wanted by the local community.”

Vlahos, who runs Altamont Manor, was formerly a village trustee. After Gaughan’s election, he was often at odds with the mayor and frequently the only trustee who raised questions before voting on an item.

Longtime judge Neil Taber is also up for re-election and is running unopposed.

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