In March, many places in central and northern New York will hold local elections. Among them is the village of Dresden on Seneca Lake, where residents will vote in a new mayor. But, there’s just one problem: no one’s running.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Dresden, a village that just over 300 people call home. Two years ago there was no one on the ballot for village trustee, and newcomer William Hall won as a write-in.
Hall says these positions do require some experience, since dealing with state regulations can be tough. And Dresden is in for an especially big challenge in the next few months when it will be handed a to-do list resulting from a recent audit.
"That’s not a request from the state. That’s mandatory. There’s things that we have to change," said Hall. "And what upsets me the most, is we’re not going to have any continuity, so we have to start over. And it’s going to be a big problem, there’s no question about it."
Barbara VanEpps with the New York Conference of Mayors says, given the low pay of these positions, it’s never been easy to attract candidates at the local level.
"Their jobs as local officials is only getting more difficult when you have the current economic situation that we’re dealing with combined with fiscal pressures that are imposed primarily by state mandates and state requirements that make the cost of providing essential municipal services that much more expensive," said VanEpps.
According to Dresden trustee Hall, a few people have asked whether he would be willing to run for mayor as a write-in, and he is considering it.
But Hall says as state requirements become more onerous, it’s inevitable that some upstate villages like Dresden will dissolve, with townships taking on what were once village responsibilities.
But VanEpps says while it does appear that more small communities are considering dissolution, the number of municipalities going through with it does not seem to be rising. She says that’s because there are still too many uncertainties in the dissolution process.
Hall says he just hopes it won’t happen in Dresden for at least another decade or two.