On Dec. 30, Richard “Geezer” Gordon presided over his last Town Council meeting, bringing to an end a public career that spanned more than five decades.
During the last fifty-plus years, Gordon has served in the United States Air Force, spent two decades as a correctional officer, another two decades as town and village justice and the last two years as the town’s supervisor.
Last week Gordon took some time to reflect on his time as supervisor and his public career.
During his tenure as supervisor, the town continued work on the Troy Shirt Factory and secured a grant that should allow them to continue and eventually finish the job, oversaw the sale of the Armory, worked with the state comptroller’s office to resolve discrepancies in the town’s finances, took care of the dikes along the EB Metals sight, made improvements at the playground and worked toward finding the town a permanent home.
“I’d like to think the town is better off now than when I started. I hope it is. You always wish you could have done more and there are some things I wished I had done differently but I think we did alright and it was a good experience,” said Gordon.
When Gordon entered office, his biggest priority was finding a home for the town offices and he explored nearly every option at his disposal from the Skenesborough Firehouse, to the Armory to theGardenTimeBuildingbefore returning to and settling on the firehouse. And while a move has yet to be finalized, the wheels have been greased.
“It’s going to happen. I think in the end it was a good thing that it happened the way it did. I really think it will work out,” Gordon said.
He also made the controversial decision (depending on what your particular feelings are) to stop providing electricity along the wall because he said it was hard for him to stomach the idea that the owners of the local marina’s were paying taxes for electrical services that may have detracted from their own business.
There were some other things Gordon would have liked to accomplish but wasn’t able to complete.
He said he would have liked to have gotten a grocery store to commit toWhitehalland would have liked to decrease taxes.
“I’m not going to make any excuses, but I think I did the best I could,” Gordon said.
After graduating high school, Gordon spent five years in the United States Air Force before returning home where he secured a job working in the prison system, a stint that lasted 22 years.
Following his retirement from the prison, Gordon served as town and acting village justice, an experience that left him with more than a few stories.
He was judge when Phish frontman Trey Anastasio was arrested inWhitehalland recalls several other high profile cases during his 20 years on the bench.
As you would expect from a man who spent the past 50 years working in the area, Gordon said there were a number of people he’s enjoyed working with.
During his meeting he took a few moments to thank members of the town council as well as Recreation Director Jack Hoagland, Highway Superintendent Louis Pratt, town clerk Elaine Jones, budget officer Kathy Jones and everyone else he worked with.
He said the staff at the New York State Canal Corp. has always been cooperative especially considering the town resides in their building, and feels the agency is in good hands under the guidance of Brian Stratton.
And he singled out Mike Gray, director of alternative sentencing inWashingtonCounty.
“He helped me out a lot. Anything, any problem we had, he helped. He’s the best director of alternative sentencing in the entire state.”
Gray, who has known Gordon for 15 years, said he was a fun guy to be around and was a pleasure to work with.
“I always thought he was very fair in balancing the best interests of the community and looking out for the defendant’s best interests,” Gray said. “After he became Supervisor, our agency performed a number of community service projects and the one thing I can say, he was a proud advocate forWhitehall.
I enjoyed working with him and he made my job much easier.”
Town councilman Farrell Prefountaine who has worked alongside Gordon the past two years said at last months town board meeting that it was an honor working alongside Gordon.
George Armstrong, who replaced Gordon as town Supervisor, also expressed his gratitude for all the help Gordon has given him as he settles into office.
“I can’t express how appreciative I am of everything Geezer has done to help me,” Armstrong said.
Gordon even surprised Armstrong with a hug after his last meeting, displaying some of his trademark humor, before handing him over the keys to the town.
“I think he’s going to do a wonderful job,” Gordon said. “I have all the confidence in the world in George.”
As for himself, Gordon said he plans to kick back and enjoy his retired years. He said a big weight has already been lifted from his shoulders now that he’s had a chance to enjoy his free time, not that he would go back and change too much.
“It’s been a very good experience, both at the town and county levels,” Gordon said.