By JOE LoTEMPLIO and DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Fending off a spirited challenge from a third-party candidate, James Calnon is the apparent winner in the City of Plattsburgh mayoral race.
“I’m grateful to the voters for their expression of support for me,” a happy Calnon said Tuesday night at Meron’s, his campaign headquarters. “It feels pretty good.”
Calnon, running as a Republican, led independent candidate Chris Rosenquest by 444 votes in the unofficial tally at the end of the night.
Calnon had 1,816 votes and Rosenquest 1,372. Democrat Mark Tiffer finished third with 794 votes.
There are also still potentially 603 absentee ballots that could be counted next week.
‘I CAN DELIVER’
Calnon said that while voters are concerned about taxes, they also want more development.
“The message that my opponents were focusing on about development is something else they were very concerned about,” Calnon said.
“The difference in our approach was that I was presenting a plan that said, look, we will do what we can afford to do and not just pave the streets with gold and expect that something magical will happen. So I think the voters have some confidence that I can deliver.”
Calnon said one of his first priorities will be to start conversations and spend more time working with city unions and department heads and surrounding municipalities.
“Let’s start there by talking,” he said.
With five newcomers and one returnee apparently landing council seats, Calnon said he was not worried about governing with his new colleagues.
“All the folks that got elected bring something to the table; it will be a little more politically diverse than the past couple years, but that’s great,” he said.
“We will get some good discussions going, get some compromises in the middle, and we will make some things happen.”
Rosenquest, who moved to the area last spring after living in the Midwest and Seattle for the past 14 years, commanded a late charge in the final two weeks of the campaign to make it a close race.
Rosenquest, 38, touted plans for more development and enterprise in the city.
“This was an awesome race,” he said Tuesday night. “We started from scratch with no machine, with nothing.”
Rosenquest also received support from people outside the city, which he said was indicative of the mood of the region.
“This race is exactly what Plattsburgh needed,” he said.
“People want something new. That’s what is being called for, and people heard what we had to say.”
With so many absentee ballots still remaining to be counted, Rosenquest said he would wait before conceding anything.
“There still about 10 percent of votes out there, so let’s wait and see,” he said “But I think all three candidates ran great campaigns.”
Tiffer said he couldn’t see any one reason for the results, but said he is not finished with politics.
“You always get up from a fall, so you have to continue fighting,” he said.
Tiffer thanked all of his supporters in his run for office.
“The results are humbling, but I still believe in my campaign,” he said. “It was important because it brought up a lot of the issues the city is facing. Many of them are long-term issues.”
He also thanked his constituents for the opportunity to represent Ward 2 on the City Common Council.
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.org