By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh Republican candidates will start their petition process today with a platform of controlling taxes while exploring opportunities for growth.
“There is an undercurrent of fiscal stability here, and we’ve been through some tough times, but I think there might be some easing in the future,” mayoral candidate James Calnon said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“We need to realistically plan how we are going to invest in the coming years.”
Calnon, a councilor from Ward 4, heads the GOP ticket for the Plattsburgh City Common Council races. An independent, he was endorsed by the party last month to run for mayor.
Calnon has been on the council since 2007. As mayor pro tem, he serves as its budget officer.
He was joined Monday by the six council candidates and the two Clinton County Legislature candidates who represent areas in the city.
Ward 1 Republican candidate William Ferris said his business experience will help him as a councilor.
“I hope to bring that experience to the council,” he said.
Ferris will run against Democrat Rachelle Armstrong.
In Ward 2, former Ward 1 Councilor Michael Drew will run for the Republicans. Drew, who also used to own Lake City Skate, a popular roller-skating venue, served on the council for six years from 2002 to 2008. He was mayor pro tem for five of those years.
He said Plattsburgh has a lot going for it, citing big fishing tournaments, the renovation of the Strand Theatre and recreation opportunities.
“We have a lot of opportunities for the future,” he said.
“There are challenges, but with those challenges come opportunities.”
Democrats have endorsed former Councilor Michael Kelly to run against Drew in Ward 2.
In Ward 3, Dale Dowdle will run for the Republicans against Democrat Justin Meyer.
Dowdle is retired from the New York State Department of Parole. He served on the Plattsburgh City School Board for 10 years.
“We do have some financial issues that we have to deal with, but there are lots of opportunities for growth, and this is an exciting time,” Dowdle said.
BUILD ON ASSETS
In Ward 4, Peter Ensel will run for the Republicans against Democrat Paul O’Connell.
Ensel, like Calnon, is registered as an independent voter but was endorsed by the GOP.
“We have so much to offer,” he said.
“We really are the envy of a lot of communities not only in New York state but the whole country, and we need to build on that.”
In Ward 5, Bruce Lawson, the retired sales manager of WPTZ, is running against Democrat Becky Kasper.
Lawson said his experience in working with multi-million-dollar budgets will help guide the city to grow while keeping taxes stable.
“We need to provide a stable tax rate, and if we don’t, people will leave,” he said.
“If we don’t watch the money, everything else falls apart and we can’t do all of the wonderful things we want to.”
In Ward 6, James Wemette will run for the Republicans against Democrat Joshua Kretser.
Wemette said he wants to bring the business practice of Lean Six Sigma to city government. That is a practice used in the private sector for reducing waste and improving productivity.
“Health-care and retirement costs will continue to rise, so we need to keep costs down,” Wemette said.
Republican Party Chairman Richard Cantwell said the slate of city candidates has the perfect blend of business, civic and government experience.
“We have a truly good slate of candidates, and we feel strongly they will represent the city well,” Cantwell said.
The Democratic Party’s city chairman, Joseph Gittens, said both parties have put forth good teams.
“I think it is going to be a very interesting race this year,” Gittens said.
“I like our chances for sure.”
Incumbent County Legislator Mark Dame in Area 8, and Area 10 candidate Richard Perry were also on hand for Monday’s news conference.
Dame is being challenged by Democrat Robert Dolan, and Perry is in line to run against Robert Hall.
Candidates have from today to July 11 to collect the required number of signatures (5 percent of voters registered in the party in each ward) to get their names on the ballot for the November election. If more than one candidate obtains the required number of signatures in the same party, a primary will be held on Sept. 10.
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