Glens falls mayoral candidates debate the issues

Glens falls mayoral candidates debate the issues

Ray Feliciano

Five Questions for the Five Candidates

Each candidate was equally granted space for a photo, their contact information, and a total of 700 words for all five questions. The following are the five questions as presented to the candidates:

1. As Mayor, how would you approach the issue of growth in Glens Falls, and what type of growth, if any, would you be supporting?

2. What would Glens Falls look like four years from now if you were elected Mayor?

3. What do you think should be done, if anything, with the Glens Falls Civic Center? Should it continue to be subsidized by taxpayer money? Should it be open to any types of events, or are there some type of events you think should be prohibited?

4. What is you party affiliation, if any, and what does that party, or the absence of one, mean to you, and what does it mean in regards to how you would govern as Mayor?

5. Why are you the best choice for Mayor of Glens Falls?

LEROY AKINS:

1. “The City of Glens Falls is a 100-year-old city with a great historical heritage. It’s a genuine American-style hometown city with good family values and a city with incredible potential for economic growth in the future. The City of Glens Falls has provided industries with great opportunities for success, such as health services, catheter manufacturing, education, insurance, banking, arts, culture, entertainment, sports, tourism and various forms of retail shopping. A choice of cuisine is also available. My administration would continue supporting all of the above activities for the city and develop new ideas for economic growth which have not yet been done in the past.”

2. “The City of Glens Falls would be clearly defined as to what our great city is and what it has to offer. Glens Falls would become a destination city for many visitors for the arts and cultural activities, health care services, sports and entertainment events and to shop in our unique boutique shops and business establishments. We’ll have a great array of dining choices. Glens Falls will promote and market its historic heritage and architecture in the Central Business District and our neighborhoods. Glens Falls will be where families will want to live and raise their children.”

3. “The Glens Falls Civic Center is a tool for economic development that must be used to its full potential. The center will host a variety of activities, such as, sports, entertainment, trade shows, educational forums, and a variety of social functions. My administration will create an open center of inclusiveness for all surrounding communities to join with us in making this center a success for the entire region. The Civic Center, when used effectively, will be a catalyst in providing economic development for the entire region. The center was developed to support the region.”

4. “I am the endorsed candidate for the Warren County and the City of Glens Falls Democratic Party and the Working Families Party, Capital District Region. As the endorsed candidate for mayor of these respective parties, I’ll work for their interests in developing the city for its full economic potential. My administration will make the City of Glens Falls, America’s Hometown for the 21st Century–a City of Opportunity.”

5. “For the people of the City of Glens Falls, I am the best choice. For the past 25 years, I have worked for the residents of Warren County and New York State promoting our many attributes to people all across North America. With my experiences, I have the passion and qualifications to guide the City of Glens Falls into the 21st Century and create a strong economic base and success. I will work for the residents in their dealings with government.”

(518) 793-8063 royakins@royakins.com Web Site: royakins.com

WILLIAM BERG

1. “As mayor, I would utilize already existing structures. We have an enormous amount of vacant buildings, many with empty office space. These are mostly older, and I would prefer to put tax dollars into renovating instead of building new structures. Glens Falls is limited in areas to be developed, so instead of destroying the little amount of natural habitat we have, development needs to be limited to those existing buildings. New business is a priority, but the interests of the established residents must be taken into consideration as well. I plan on finding a balance between the established residents’ interest and the need for growth of new businesses.”

2. “Glens Falls, on the outside, would look about the same. The only noticeable difference would be the increase in pedestrian traffic downtown due to the improvements I will undertake to renovate existing structures. Thereby filling those empty buildings with new business that will increase the number of people working and shopping downtown.”

3. “I plan on keeping control of the Glens Falls Civic Center instead of selling it or turning it over to other regional controls. Under my administration, it will not be subsidized by taxpayer money because it will be generating enough funds to subsidize itself. It should be, and will be, open to every type of event to help generate funds necessary to at least cover cost. This itself will save residents at least a million dollars a year in tax subsidies.”

4. “I am the only true Independent running for mayor. I have absolutely no party affiliations and I am not affiliated with any PAC, union or special interest group. What this means to me is unimportant, what it means to the residents is that I am not beholding to anyone but the residents. I have no party, committee or campaign contributors to answer to. My only responsibility will be to make the decisions that are in the best interest of the residents. And they are the only ones whose interests I will be serving.”

5. “I am the best choice because I will end the political and judicial corruption permeating our government and judicial systems. Everyone who has any knowledge of current events, knows of what I speak. By the residents of Glens Falls electing me mayor, other true Independents will see that they can win and other communities will see they don’t have to put up with what is happening with just the two major party choices. I will fulfill my responsibility to the residents if they fulfill their responsibility to themselves by participating in the election process by voting, instead of letting others decide for them their needs, by not voting.”

(518) 792-3482 BergWilliamF@aol.com 36 Baldwin Ave, Glens Falls, NY

ESMOND LYONS:

1. “I think we need to shift to a new paradigm. Growth is out, development is in. The city has pretty much already filled its geographic boundaries. But it has come nowhere near to filling its development potential. The kinds of development we need in the 21st century are energy efficient, non-polluting, and aesthetically enhancing. Our transportation costs are currently unacceptable and can only get worse as the price of oil rises. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. I propose that we explore what we once had here in Glens Falls and that is an electric trolley system. Fortunately we live on the Hudson River and substantial hydropower lies at the foot of the hill. In the meantime we need to totally revamp our current transportation system creating a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, and implementing a roving minibus which will give access and mobility to all our citizens. Commuter traffic through our downtown should be discouraged through lower speed limits and redirected to circumvent the downtown entirely. The downtown itself needs to become a congenial marketplace and a suitable site for business, social, and cultural arrangements. I definitely would not allow a roundabout to be built. The roundabout is a gross misallocation of funds which exhibits the same kind of thinking which got downtown into trouble in the first place. The project has the potential to ruin at least a few of our downtown businesses. I would much rather close off Ridge Street to all traffic except deliveries so that we could see how nice a pedestrian area would be. Once that was proven we could expand it to include other areas of the downtown. A year round farmers market will contribute to community health while stopping sprawl. We could reestablish the Sherman Avenue Community Garden and use it as an instructive setting for our youth. We need to show our young people that work is not a four-letter word and that it’s okay to get your hands dirty. Over the past decades massive portions of the city have succumbed to the creep of asphalt. We need to reverse this and reclaim land within the city for grass, gardens, and trees. We will beautify the city and apply architectural standards which honor the original Glens Falls. We can revoke the current ban on on-street overnight parking and keep the cars on the street allowing for more lawns, gardens, and play areas around our homes and neighborhoods.”

2. “Just look at what I’ve done with my home, the former Wesleyan Methodist Church on the corner of Grove Avenue and Garfield St. A broken down eyesore is now the pride of the neighborhood with beautiful gardens surrounding it. That’s what I want to do for the city. Don’t forget that I’m an artist and mural painter. Outdoor murals throughout the city would boost our tourist dollars significantly.”

3. “The Civic Center should be given one year of unhindered operation to become profitable. If it does not become profitable it will be closed and sold to reimburse the taxpayers of the city for the enormous expense they have incurred by subsidizing it for as long as they have.”

4. “While I am currently registered as a Green Party member I have not been active in the Green Party for several years. I changed my party affiliation to independent before I announced my candidacy. But that change does not become effective until after the election. Party politics in Glens Falls is more about maintaining the status quo than actually governing with the best interests of the people in mind.”

5. “Globally, nationally, and locally we are at a crossroads. The future will not be an extension of the present. More people will be living in cities. Cheap energy, once abundant, is a thing of the past. And environmental degradation is exerting an increasingly negative effect on human health. We need to write a new story not continue to retell the same old story. That will require fresh ideas and a visionary leadership which of all the candidates only I can supply.”

(518) 792-0843 elyons3@nycap.rr.com www.esmondlyonsformayor.org

PETER MCDEVITT:

1. “Glens Falls needs to attract high tech, high paying jobs to our community. Jobs that enable people to afford a house, send their children to college, and encourage our grandchildren and children to stay in the area. We have to be pro-active in supporting this type of high tech growth. High quality restaurants and merchants will not locate in Glens Falls unless we as a city do a much better job of improving our overall look. Why do some merchants in South Glens Falls sweep their storefronts and streets on a daily basis and power wash their sidewalks twice a week? We need to encourage our merchant base to do the same.”

2. “Downtown’s in order to succeed must carve out a unique character. Historic Preservation works preserved structures and space can reinforce the market value of downtown and attract merchants. Down towns should celebrate the locally essential shop: a newsstand, a pharmacy, a bookstore, a fix-it shop. Down towns have an obligation to meet the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Down towns must be pedestrian friendly; too often priorities go to vehicles. The look of the city coming from the exit 18 corridor has to be improved. When someone drives past our brand new hospital expansion project, it is unacceptable to see the condition of some structures. Boarded up windows are unacceptable. We as human beings are much better than this.”

3. “The Civic Center should be a regional facility. This tax burden has to be shared. It is unacceptable for city residents to assume the total tax burden of this facility. In fiscal year 2004, the Civic Center had a negative cash flow of $683,000. Principal and interest was $431,655. In general terms, the Civic Center should be open to most events. If a rock concert is behind closed doors and participants are willing to pay the going price who is government to prohibit such events?

4. “Being Mayor of Glens Falls should have nothing to do with party labels. The best candidate should prevail. I am a member of the Republican Party.”

5. “We are at a critical turning point in the history of Glens Falls. The condition of city streets and our infrastructure is in trouble. Privatization and Earth Tech have been a failed experiment. We need to go back to a traditional DPW. The negative tax drain of our

Civic Center has to be solved. A strong, knowledgeable, decision oriented Mayor is necessary in today’s economic environment. Vision, experience, and responsibility are necessary qualities to be Mayor of Glens Falls.”

(518) 798-8352 themcdevittgroup@juno.com www.visionglensfalls.com

HAROLD “BUD” TAYLOR

1. “As Mayor I would propose a plan of controlled growth that would not detract from the character of our beautiful downtown. I would follow through with current efforts to bring new businesses to the community that would enhance the quality of life while adding to our tax base. Working with the business community, developers, neighborhood groups and the Arts community, we will build an atmosphere that will encourage development of new residential space, promote selected residential development in our neighborhoods, support the new Business Improvement District, and continue to attract investors to Glens Falls. Growth without an improved infrastructure would not be prudent. As the next Mayor I would continue a program of infrastructure improvement. It is important that we have the capacity to provide needed utilities and improve the visual aspects of our streets.”

2. “My campaign theme is ‘Team Glens Falls’. I will continue that theme through a new administration. I will encourage team work and communication to use consensus in solving problems. The experience gained while serving eight years as a councilman will allow a seamless transition. Because I will already know the details of an issue, I will be able to hit the ground running. The relationships I have gained will assist in building a regional approach to problem solving. This background will enable the City to keep pace with evolving issues and continue working on current issues without time lost learning the basics. The result will foster vigorous activity in our business district, improved neighborhoods, and a spirit of optimism in the community. The next four years will be a period of economic growth. Glens Falls is the cultural and business center of the area and will continue to grow in that regard. Last February, I said we were at a watershed moment in the history of the city and that it seemed like every time we read the newspaper we learned of developers coming to the City. Glens Falls will continue to grow, and leadership, teamwork and a new spirit of enthusiasm will be the catalyst.”

3. “The Civic Center should be managed by a regional authority with surrounding communities sharing in the cost of operation as well as the benefits generated by events. The Director should be given a goal to increase the number and type of events held there. We now have a tourism director funded by the bed tax income, and this individual should work in unison with the Civic Center Director to attract convention business. The taxpayer subsidy to the Center would decrease and spread among participating authority member communities, and there would be a minimal impact on individual taxpayers. The type of events held at the Civic Center should be consistent with the image that we are trying to build.”

4. “Party affiliation? A strange question to ask. I view the Mayor as the manager of City government, and once elected, the decision process will be determined by what is right for the City of Glens Falls. Relationships between the Mayor and individual Council members should be based on respect and all should work as a team to represent everyone in the community.”

5. “I am the best choice for Mayor because I am the only candidate that brings a wide range of experience to the job. I have experience in manufacturing management, union relations, work measurement and wage administration, business ownership and relational skills. I am an entrepreneur that has experienced the sacrifices required to build a successful business. I have had the experience of meeting a payroll, hiring new employees, and consolidating other businesses with my own.”

(518) 792-6875 htaylor1@nycap.rr.com www.teamglensfalls.com

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