March 24, 2009
McGraw write-in takes familiar path to office
3 of the 5 Village Board members were elected by write-in votes in recent elections
McGRAW — In the weeks leading up to the March 18 election, two or three people asked Trevor Bilodeau if he would like to be a village trustee, but Bilodeau did not think much of it.
“I didn’t think that I really wanted it at the time,” he said.
Bilodeau, 74, did not actively seek either of the two open trustee seats.
But when the votes were tallied, write-in votes put Bilodeau in office.
Mayor Pam Ross, who ran unopposed, was elected as a trustee by write-in votes two years ago. Nancy Sandy, who won a trustee seat on Wednesday, was elected as a write-in candidate last year.
A final trustee seat remains open.
Bilodeau said write-in candidates did not used to be nearly as common in McGraw as they are today.
“Years ago we had people wanting to serve. They were running against each other,” he said.
“People are too busy with their own lives and self preservation,” he said. “It’s a fast-paced world. People get to the point where they have to take care of their own families.”
Ross said she is not sure why more people do not run on the ballot.
Bilodeau received 19 votes for the two-year term and 6 votes for the one-year term, according to the Cortland County Board of Elections. He accepted the two-year term Friday.
Bilodeau, a retired heavy equipment operator for the state Department of Transportation, has been very active in the McGraw community throughout his life.
He said he served on the McGraw Recreation Committee until last year, was a caretaker in the McGraw Senior Citizens Building for 10 years and served on the McGraw Board of Education in the 1970s. He was also a town justice in Solon.
“I’ve been involved with people in McGraw for many years, and I’ve always gotten along with people,” Bilodeau said.
He was informed Thursday afternoon that he received more write-in votes for both open trustee seats than any other village resident. He spent a night thinking about the idea and spoke with the other village trustees about it to find out if they approved of his being elected, he said.
“I don’t want to start with any misgivings,” he said. “If they’re not happy with my appointment I didn’t want to do it.”
Trustee Allan Stauber was not up for re-election.
Ross ran unopposed for mayor this year after Robert Freeman decided not to seek re-election.
Ross, whose father, John Fitch, was mayor for 12 years, said campaigning was more difficult than being elected as a write-in.
She went door-to-door to get the 50 petition signatures required to run and to encourage people to vote for her. She said that even though she was the only candidate for mayor on the ballot, she thought she might lose to a write-in candidate if she did not campaign actively, because write-in votes are so common in McGraw.
She said she is looking forward to serving as mayor.
“The crew that’s on right now, we’ve worked well together,” she said. “We all have our opinions and we work off those and I think it’s a good mix.”
Ross said Bilodeau is qualified to serve as a trustee because of his experience working in the village.
“I think he might bring some stabilization and some older thought that we as a younger group might not have thought about,” Ross said.
Ross said the board will likely discuss the open trustee seat at its next meeting.
The board can either appoint a trustee or leave the position open until the March 2010 election, when it will become a two-year term. It could be put up for election this November, but only if Gov. David A. Paterson calls for a special election, which Cortland County Election Commissioner Bob Howe said is unlikely.
Ross said she would prefer to appoint someone.
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