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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 23, 2009

In New Scotland
Luther takes charge in the breach

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — Taking the helm of a party facing a primary that splits two sets of candidates on the defining issue in this year’s election, Lance Luther is painting the GOP as unified.

“The one thing we can all agree on is it’s very important to have responsible growth and planning,” he said when asked how he would reconcile the differences in the party.  The GOP recently endorsed two town board candidates wary of development — incumbent Douglas LaGrange, a farmer, and planning board member Charles Voss, making his second run — who are now being challenged to a primary by two Republicans — Roz Robinson, a lawyer who chaired a now defunct zoning advisory committee, and Tim Stanton, a farmer making his first political run — on the other side of the development debate. 

Since Cazenovia-based Sphere Development proposed building a Target-anchored shopping center at the intersection of routes 85 and 85A over a year ago, the town has been embroiled in debate over the direction of development.

“This primary could be a referendum,” Luther said, referring to the issue of development.  The two pairs of candidates largely reflect each of two groups that have emerged in town — those supportive of New Scotlanders 4 Sound Economic Development, which has pushed for a size cap on commercial development, and those supportive of PRIDE of New Scotland, which favors few restrictions on property owners. 

The town’s Republican committee named Luther chair at a meeting last week not open to the public.  “It was going to be chaotic in that a lot of things had to get done,” he said.

Central among them was choosing a candidate to run for supervisor since the GOP’s initial pick, Karen Moreau, the president of PRIDE, dropped out of the race after accepting a new job.  The party has until tomorrow, Friday, to submit names for the spot to the committee on vacancies, according to John Graziano, the Republican commissioner at the county’s board of elections.  After the town party makes its suggestions, the committee on vacancies decides if a substitute candidate can run, Graziano said. 

Although Luther wouldn’t say this week who will be named, he did say that the party will make a suggestion by the deadline.

Luther, who has served as chair of New Scotland’s Republican Committee before, said that his vision for the party is “to promote Republican values and principles.”

When asked if, since the party has endorsed candidates are sympathetic to NS4SED, the party supports that vision for development, Luther answered, “We did take a vote and endorse those candidates…  Some votes were close.”

Now, he said, there are four candidates vying for two spots and whoever wins September’s primary will be supported by himself and the party.

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