LOWVILLE — On March 21, village voters will make a choice between two candidates who offer different backgrounds and approaches to how the village should be led for the next four years.
Mayor Joseph G. Beagle and Kathleen L. “Kae” Young will appear on the ballot.
Mr. Beagle is seeking his second four-year term as mayor as he wraps up his 12th year on the board.
“I feel I bring quite a lot (to the mayor role) in regard to my background,” he said, noting his experience as the transportation supervisor for the South Lewis School District where he managed 45 people and a large budget before retiring.
For the past four years, Mr. Beagle said he has been focusing on $44 million worth of infrastructure improvements on systems that are more than 100 years old, including the water and sewer lines, as a means to ensure resources are available for new businesses and growth by existing manufacturers like Kraft Heinz and Neenah Paper.
In addition to the 22 village streets that have been repaved under his watch, Mr. Beagle initiated what became the $19.8 million Five Streets project upgrading the water, sewer and drainage systems and resurfacing the streets when he was deputy mayor after seeing a grant opportunity.
The projects were paid for with grants and low or no interest loans and did not result in tax increases and only a 2% increase to water and sewer bills.
All of the village streets are now illuminated with LED lights that are owned by the village through a state program which Mr. Beagle said has saved the village about $4,000 monthly on electric bills.
For continued economic success for the village and jobs for its residents, he said there is a lot more infrastructure work to be done.
“Businesses aren’t going to come unless they can hook right into your systems,” Mr. Beagle said. “Some people say I only care about infrastructure but if we don’t stay on top of this stuff now it’s going to cost the village big if everything collapses at once.”
Because of the strong relationships he has with village department heads, Mr. Beagle said he was able to negotiate new contracts with the police and public works departments without a problem and the level of communication between the village and Kraft Heinz is at an all time high.
The mayor led the way to a number of improvements at Veterans Park, including bandstand, walkway and storage building improvements along with a free summer concert series. New playground equipment has been purchased and will be installed in the spring.
He hopes to find grant funding for the addition of a splash pad and to grow the concert series if reelected, while also continuing efforts to “beautify” the village and create handicap accessible walkways.
Finding the right grants to pay for the projects without taxpayer burden will continue to be the key.
“I am a go-getter and a hard worker and I burn my candle at both ends still at 76. I like to get things done, basically. I’m not afraid of work and never have been,” Mr. Beagle said.
Improving and protecting the village is where he would like to continue focusing his energy for the next four years if voters allow him to do so.
Mrs. Young believes the biggest assets she will bring to the mayor’s office are her ability to communicate; to listen; to give a fresh perspective; and enthusiasm for changes to improve the quality of life in the village while “rebooting” in the post-pandemic world.
She said she intends to collaborate with neighboring towns, the county and state to find ways of attracting young families to the village, “rebuilding tourism and helping businesses,” but she doesn’t have specific ideas pre-formed about how to do that.
“The responsibility is to start the conversation and find the ways to provide those opportunities for whatever that quality of life is and that’s by talking to people, asking, ‘What would you like?’” she said.
She contrasted the “gotta haves” like ensuring the “lights (are) on … the bills are paid” with the “wanna haves” that “entice people to come and try it here, our children to come back after they’ve gone out” all while staying fiscally responsible, admitting she will have a lot to learn at the beginning about what that means for the village.
Although she had never thought about seeking a municipal office and does not have any experience, Mrs. Young said she is a lifelong learner who is up to the task of on-the-job training.
From her first job out of high school as a ship-to-shore radio operator in the Navy to 24 years in the TV-news industry in Syracuse and Watertown and her last job before retirement as a community relations officer at Fort Drum, Mrs. Young’s life has been dedicated to communicating.
“It’s (been) dealing with people and telling their stories and finding out what they would like and trying to find a way to make it happen and learning the whole way along — always learning,” she said, noting that she will put these skills to work as mayor as she has been able to do throughout her career.
Mrs. Young is an active volunteer with the Lewis County Historical Society’s committee on the Black River Concert Series and joined the society’s board last year. She also volunteers at the Lewis County Fair strawberry shortcake booth for opening day each year.
The core of her community service, however, is about one-on-one engagement with other community members.
“I try to take care of my neighbors. If there’s a bottle drive, I’ll go around and take care of that. If someone needs some help snow blowing, I got it fired up. I can just add the steps to my walking that day,” she said. “If someone needs something, they can get a hold of me — I will always be here to help. I care about people … It’s like a bank: whatever you put in — maybe not today, maybe 10 years down the road — you get it back.”
Since her retirement from Fort Drum in 2019 due to family obligations, Mrs. Young spends her time doing the things she loves including traveling frequently to Syracuse to help her mother who can no longer drive and spend time with her grandchildren.
Although her husband is the head of the Lewis County Republican Party and an active member of a number of influential boards in the village, Mrs. Young said she and her husband have never discussed anything to do with local politics or what is happening on the boards largely because she did not work in the village so there was no common ground. She does not expect the boundary to change even if she becomes mayor, which would create significant overlap.
“We’re smarter than that and … I would put my faith in the people that had the faith in me to know that I’m never going to lie to you. I’m going to be transparent. Ask me a question and I’ll answer it if I can and I’ll tell you if I can’t. I’ll tell you why I can’t if I can’t,” she said.
Now, it is all up to the voters.
Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. March 21 at the Lowville Municipal Building, 5535 Bostwick St.
Candidate: Joseph G. Beagle, 76
Family: Wife, Charlotte Beagle; 2 adult children
Number of years in village: 53
Experience: Mayor, 4 years; trustee, 8 years with 6 as deputy mayor
Work status: Retired
Pre-retirement experience: Transportation supervisor, South Lewis Central School District; bus mechanic, South Lewis Central; U.S. Army combat veteran in the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War
Candidate: Kathleen L. “Kae” Young, 68
Family: Husband, Michael Young; 6 adult children
Number of years in the village: 20
Reason for seeking office: The encouragement of friends and acquaintances, good timing and desire to serve the greater good.
Work status: Retired
Pre-retirement experience: Fort Drum community liaison; assignment editor, WWNY-TV Watertown; television news reporter/assignment editor, Syracuse; adjunct professor of journalism, Onondaga Community College; ship to shore radio operator in Guam during end of Vietnam War, U.S. Navy
Hobbies: Gardening, racquetball, kayaking
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.