EDINBURGH — Jean Raymond never imagined uprooting his life in Stamford, Connecticut, to move to Edinburgh, let alone eventually becoming the city supervisor.
However, this year she celebrates 36 years in the role, becoming the longest-serving supervisor on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
And she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“Am I going to do four more years? I don’t know,” she said. “I tell people jokingly but I kind of mean it, when I get to the point where I get up every day and say I hate this job and don’t want to go to work, it’s time to leave. I’m not there yet.
By the mid-1970s, Raymond and her then-husband had built a second home in the town of about 1,300 people along Great Sacandaga Lake. During a visit to the house one year, her husband announced his intention to buy the general store and move the family there. Eventually, Raymond would take over the store as a single mother and run it for 10 years before selling it.
In May 1987, people began suggesting that Raymond run for city supervisor, following news that then-supervisor Marshall Robinson would not be seeking re-election.
By then the store had been sold, she had done whatever she wanted around her home, and had gone to Fulton-Montgomery Community College thinking she could go into real estate.
She eventually decided real estate wasn’t the right path for her because she didn’t want to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
She thought being a supervisor would be more like a part-time job.
“Apparently I didn’t do my homework well,” she joked. “Because at the end of the day, when it was all said and done and I was elected, I worked nights, weekends, holidays and every day.”
She doesn’t regret it at all.
“I work with some really great people,” she says, adding that being a supervisor is interesting and what keeps her going.
“There’s always something new, there’s always something different,” she said. “I think what keeps people in power is you have an idea or you get into something and it kind of becomes your project.”
Raymond has helped pave the way for a number of projects in the city over the past three decades.
One of the first things she did after being elected was to find a building in town to use for municipal offices.
“When I took office, nobody had an office in town; everyone worked at her house,” she said.
She served as supervisor long enough to see the city build a new town hall, which employees moved into in July 2005.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as a supervisor, she assisted the city in the process of closing its landfill, which included an experiment with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to see if the one of the landfills could be salvaged. NYSERDA ultimately determined nothing could be salvaged. But during that time, Raymond was asked to serve on a state task force that ultimately got the state to cover 90% of a city’s costs to close its landfill instead of 50%.
She also oversaw the distribution of $2 million from Housing and Urban Development over the years to repair housing in the city.
One of his most notable actions as supervisor was repairing the Batchellerville Bridge.
“It took 18 years to get there,” she said of the project, which cost $46 million.
The 3,000 foot long bridge was a main route for people and had it not been repaired a 35 mile detour would have been necessary.
“If the bridge was closed, I think it would have destroyed the city.”
Now, Raymond plans to complete his next projects: a park and an addition to a nature trail in town.
During the County Board of Supervisors’ organizational meeting, Chairman Theodore T. Kusnierz Jr. recognized Raymond and his accomplishments over the years. He shared feelings on Thursday similar to those he had at that meeting.
“On behalf of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, I congratulate and thank Supervisor Jean Raymond for her more than three decades of service to the residents of Saratoga County,” he said. “During her tenure, she was instrumental in helping Council pass policies that have made our county a desirable place for families to raise their children and a desirable place for companies to do business. She has also been a trusted advisor to many past and present supervisors throughout her years of public service and we look forward to her future years of service.
Raymond said her willingness to listen and learn is what has helped her over the years. But Raymond, a Republican, said she is also putting politics aside to focus on the needs of her constituents.
“I think when you run for public office you run on a political line, but I think once you run for public office you serve everyone,” she said. “You leave political affairs at the door when you come to work. I try not to bring anything political to work.