Press-Republican

October 30, 2013

City Fire Department backs Rosenquest for mayor

By JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Touting an endorsement from the Plattsburgh City Fire Department union, mayoral candidate Chris Rosenquest said he would be ready to lead from day one.

He also said he would ensure the city does not miss out on chances to better itself.

“For the last six years, we have lost opportunities in Plattsburgh,” Rosenquest said at a news conference outside Station One on Cornelia Street Tuesday morning.

“We have lost opportunities for grants, we have lost opportunities for partnerships, and we’ve lost opportunities for growth.”

DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Rosenquest, 38, is running as an independent candidate against Ward 4 Councilor James Calnon, who is running on the Republican line, and Ward 2 Councilor Mark Tiffer, a Democrat.

Rosenquest graduated from Plattsburgh High School, Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh before leaving for the Midwest and Seattle. He returned this spring, after 14 years away, to run for mayor.

Throughout his campaign, he has touted the need for the city to be more proactive in community development and finding ways to bring in more revenue.

Refurbishing the Community Development Office and developing the city’s waterfront are two ideas he has pitched to bolster the city’s economy.

“I’ve put forth a comprehensive plan for community and economic development and the actions it will take to move Plattsburgh forward,” Rosenquest said.

“I will utilize the resources we already have in a fiscally, environmentally and socially responsible way.”

AMBULANCE REVENUE

Another idea Rosenquest talked about was the possibility of increasing the city’s ambulance service out of the Fire Department as a way of generating more revenue.

He said he contacted the City of Oswego to see how officials there operate their ambulance service, which produces about $1.4 million per year — around $1 million more than Plattsburgh.

“I will look at opportunities to expand that service to make more revenue,” Rosenquest said.

COMMUNICATION CITED

The Fire Department union, the Plattsburgh Permanent Firefighters Local 2421, unanimously agreed to endorse Rosenquest, union President Terry Feazelle said.

The union has been at odds with Mayor Donald Kasprzak since he took that office in 2007 and also when he was a councilor from 1990 to 1994.

Kasprzak, who is not seeking re-election, is a strong supporter of Calnon, who serves as mayor pro tem.

Feazelle said the union decided to back Rosenquest because they feel he will at least talk with them.

“Just because we talk doesn’t mean we are going to agree, but we can’t even talk with the administration now,” Feazelle said.

The union gave Rosenquest $500 for his campaign, he said.

He said they did reach out to Tiffer to consider endorsing him but never heard back from him.

“We are just hoping for better communication, and with Chris, I think we can get that,” Feazelle said.

COSTS VS. BENEFIT

As for the idea of increasing ambulance service to make more money, Feazelle said it could work but said there would probably be additional costs.

“We miss about 600 calls per year, so I know there is an opportunity out there,” he said.

If a city ambulance is out on a call when another one comes in, a CVPH ambulance takes that one.

Calnon said the idea of increasing ambulance service has been studied by the city, but it has not been determined whether it would be cost effective.

“It’s not cost effective, the way it’s ever been laid out for us,” he said.

Increasing the service would mean more expenditures for equipment and personnel, Calnon said, diminishing the opportunities for increased revenue.

AFSCME ENDORSEMENT

Calnon has received the endorsement from the city’s largest union, the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees Local 788.

He said he was never approached by the Fire Department union.

“As a councilor, I have sat down with them (firefighters) and talked to them, and I have been very approachable,” he said.

“I think they should make their decision based on what a candidate does, rather than what they hear on the street.”

Tiffer issued a statement that says: “I respect their decision. When elected, I will continue to be a strong advocate for all of our city workers.”

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com