COLONIE — Voters turned out in unprecedented numbers on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to elect a new village mayor and two trustees.
The 640 voters was surprising because on average village elections draw between 250 and 300 residents to the polls and all three candidates — Thomas Tobin for mayor and Edward Sim and Jack Murphy for trustee — were unopposed.
“We were kind of leery of people not coming out but they came out in droves,” said Village of Colonie Clerk Jamie Blot. “I think people want their voice to be heard. And, I wonder if they wanted to see how November would go. The village it is a smaller venue so maybe it was like a test run.”
Of the 640 people who voted, the vast majority came to cast a ballot in person.
Tobin got 572 in person votes and 54 by absentee, Murphy got 532 in person votes and 55 by absentee and Sim got 528 in person votes and 53 by absentee, according to stats provided by Blot.
The one proposition on the ballot, to amend the service award program for active volunteer firefighters, passed with 516 voting in the affirmative in person and 51 voting yes by absentee while 47 voted against in person and three voted no by absentee.
Voting by absentee is allowed for any reason this year given COVID-19 and voting by mail is an issue on the national level.
When Tobin is sworn in as mayor he will have to give up his seat on the Board of Trustees. He and the village board will appoint a replacement. That is expected to take place tonight.
Tobin, a 40-year village resident, has been a trustee for 21 years and deputy mayor for 15. Sim has been filling in as acting mayor since October, 2019 when long time Mayor Frank Leak stepped down for health reasons.
Tobin, a retired state computer analyst, was elected as a Trustee in 1998 and was deputy mayor from 2001 to 2015. The UAlbany grad and U.S. Marine who served in the Vietnam War has spent time on the Master Plan Committee, as liaison to the Planning Commission and Fire Department and spearheaded the formation of the Village Concert Series in Cook Park.
“I’ve been a trustee for 21 years and I’ve been deputy mayor for 15 years on and off and I want to continue what Frank started many years ago and keeping it going,” Tobin said
The mayor serves a four-year term, and is paid $19,000 for the part time job.
Sim and Murphy are currently on the board and were re-elected to a four-year term.
Village elections are traditionally held on the third Tuesday of March but that day, March 17, was St. Patrick’s Day so it was initially delayed a day. Then COVID-19 hit, and village elections were delayed across the state until this week.
The three candidates ran on Your Village Party line, an independent political party not affiliated with Democrats or Republicans.
“We don’t break down by Republican and Democrat at all,” Tobin said previously. “The Your Village Party is an independent party, and The Village of Colonie has been run by the same party since I think the 1970s.”
The village is an odd-shaped, 3.3-square-mile independent municipality located within the Town of Colonie that has its own government. The population of about 8,000 pays on average an extra $700 to $800 in village taxes for things like snow removal, fire protection and garbage pickup. It has an annual budget of about $7.5 million.
Leak was elected trustee in 1979 and was appointed mayor in 1995 before being elected to his first full term a year later. When he stepped down, the then 92-year-old was one of the oldest mayors in the nation. He left a legacy that includes a renovated Cook Park complete with a concert pavilion that bears his name, increased services for seniors and youth, a new fire department and a new village recreation center.